How to grow a cake business: How NutriCraft’s customer B Raw Cakes used marketing to take a slice out of retail
Early beginnings – starting a cake business
Thanks to the unprecedented events of the last six months, many offline food businesses have lost their regular customers or been forced to stop trading entirely. We interviewed one of NutriCraft’s long-standing customers, Boris from B Raw Cakes, as part of our Meet the Makers series to see what challenges he and his partner had faced and how they adapted their business to survive in a rapidly changing world.
Founded in 2016, B Raw Cakes is a London-based company that handcrafts raw and vegan cakes from wholesome ingredients. Their aim is to create a delicious and healthy alternative to more traditional sweet treats. An ex-ice hockey player turned greengrocer, Boris knew nothing about how to start a cake business when he started out. But he was clear what he wanted to create – a delicious and healthy alternative to more traditional sweet treats.
As the wellness movement was starting to pick up and people were beginning to seek out less processed plant-based foods, Boris realised there was a market primed for his offering. Equipped with a blender and his vision, he started making cakes for his friends and family. Many cakes later, he landed on his secret recipes and, in no time, B Raw Cakes was officially launched!
As the business grew and began to amass a sizeable client list of demanding London-based cafes and restaurants, Boris needed to find reliable suppliers of quality ingredients. NutriCraft was there to help, providing next day delivery, small minimum order quantities at wholesale prices, as well as the option to order mixed product pallets to save on valuable storage space. His main ingredients are our organic coconut oil, cacao powder, butter and liquor, but he has also used niche wholefood ingredients like spirulina and matcha powder.
Evolving the idea - growing a cake business
Prior to March 2020, B Raw Cakes had a customer base of consumer-facing businesses like cafés and restaurants, where their delicious cakes were offered as a health-conscious, Instagram-able dessert. As these businesses were forced to shut, orders came to an abrupt standstill – a nightmare situation for any business. B Raw Cakes needed to come up with a new approach if they were to ensure the business’ survival.
After some thinking, the clear (and perhaps only!) solution was to expand their online presence and deliver direct to customers at home. The question was, how would they reach these new customers?
The dilemma - marketing a cake business in a crisis
In the early days of his business, Boris had been sceptical about marketing. It had the potential to be a cash drain if it didn’t deliver the desired results. With a budding business, this was not a risk he was willing to take. To Boris, it was important that the business grew organically. It would allow him to ensure that perceptions of quality and service were growing alongside sales.
But Covid 19 forced Boris’ hand. He knew that his business’s survival meant that he had to reach new customers. He decided to give marketing a try. At this stage, he and his partner had nothing to lose.
Boris quickly learnt that he has another secret ingredient to his business success. Photos of his colourful cakes. His social media accounts blew up. The eye-catching products quickly captivated the public’s attention and attracted a dedicated following of customers eager to feast their eyes on his cakes. Orders began to roll in, direct from these retail consumers. Then those customers started telling their friends, and writing reviews. Boris’ marketing tactics were a success; the company didn’t just avert disaster, they got busier than ever.
The crisis was the making of the business.
Lessons learned – managing a cake business
Boris was brave. He bit the bullet and invested in marketing at a time when the future of his business was uncertain. This investment opened up a whole new side of the business: selling directly to customers through the website. Now that the situation is slowly easing, many of B Raw Cakes’ wholesale customers have started to reopen and place orders.
Looking back, Boris realises that his initial scepticism of marketing had been due to a lack of knowledge. Marketing decisions can be a bit like playing the lottery, you can never truly know if they will deliver the desired results. By keeping up on trends, reading articles and educating yourself, this can be a calculated and well-informed risk that is likely to deliver results.
What’s next for B Raw Cakes? Now that the situation is slowly easing, many of B Raw Cakes’ wholesale customers have started to reopen and place orders. So now he has income from both his old and his new customers, Boris would like to take the business nationwide. This presents new challenges for the business, due to the delicate nature of the product. He is exploring various strategies to help him scale up but is mindful that growing too fast can be dangerous as it can lead to a loss of control and may compromise quality and service.
When we asked Boris what he would have done differently from the start, he was unhesitating in his response – marketing would have formed a pivotal part of his strategy to grow his cake business. If it is well-informed and done well, it can bring a lot of new customers. His advice to anyone planning to start their own cake business – don’t hesitate! But do some marketing. If your cakes look good enough to eat, make sure people get to look at them!