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Turning pastime passion into a business is a piece of cake

By Helen Paterson

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Jools Lawson — inspired by daytime television programme.
Jools Lawson — inspired by daytime television programme.

INSPIRING is not a word often used to describe daytime television. But for one woman, it proved exactly that. Jools Lawson had just given birth to her fifth child when she stumbled across an American reality television show called Ace of Cakes. She was instantly hooked.

"I wouldn’t say I was a baker before, I would rather have been on the golf course," she said.

"I started watching these American cake programmes, like Ace of Cakes. It stars Duff Goldman and everything he does is so different, there is nothing he can’t do."

Egged on by her new-found hero, Mrs Lawson decided to try her hand at a three-tier birthday cake for her daughter Megan’s seventh birthday.

"It wasn’t the kind of thing you would expect to knock up for a birthday party and when people walked in, they said, "God, look at that! That is where it all started."

Friends were overwhelmed by her creation and on the back of that, she made a few cakes for them, before taking her first official order in February.

"At the time, I was thinking, it would be quite good if I could develop this into something that could be a business," she said. "My sister-in-law told me I needed to start up a Facebook page if I was going to be doing it as a business. I knew nothing about it, but set up a Facebook page and a website, and the enquiries came thick and fast.

"When it started, I remember I had three orders in a week and was in a big panic about how I was going to make and decorate three cakes."

Cake Mamma was born and today 42-year-old Mrs Lawson, who used to run her own curtain-making interior design business and worked as a cashier for Clydesdale Bank in Inverness, produces an average of 10 celebration cakes per week, including birthday and wedding. She also makes cupcakes.

Orders have included a "Shrek" wedding cake and Chinook helicopter, while she also made a 75th birthday cake of the Bath Football Club strip for film director Ken Loach, during recent filming of his movie, "The Angels Share", at Balblair.

"It is just living the dream," she said. "Never in a million years did I think it would take off like this. For it to have grown the way it has grown is beyond belief."

So much in demand, she has had to hire a child-minder a couple of mornings per week to look after her 11-month old daughter Lucy, and a friend to help with administration. Soon she plans to start renovating her kitchen at her home in Newton Park, Kirkhill, to provide more space.

However, in the longer term, with the business now breaking-even, the goal is premises. "Just now I am in a whirlwind, I am just trying to go with the flow," she said. "I absolutely love what I do and can’t believe how lucky I am to be doing it."

Debbie Parker — inherited her love of baking cakes from her grandmother.
Debbie Parker — inherited her love of baking cakes from her grandmother.

DEBBIE Parker started her business, Cupcake Creations, to suit the needs of her family. With a daughter on the autistic spectrum, she needed a job which would allow her to be at home.

"My grandmother was a confectioner and used to make wedding cakes, which went all over the world," she said. "It is something I have always loved — baking, cooking and entertaining, and normal work wasn’t an option, it was getting too difficult, so I started from home."

The mother-of-three, who lives in Inverarnie, started supplying cupcakes to The Dairy at Daviot, and today she specialises in cupcakes for weddings and functions, although makes cakes to order too, all from the family home.

Last week she made a batch of cupcakes and a cake — for boy band JLS.

The 42-year-old was put in touch with Ross County Football Club through a previous customer and made a tower consisting of 100 cupcakes for backstage at the JLS and Olly Murs concert on Saturday.

The JLS cake was decorated with four very carefully modelled figurines of members Aston, Marvin, Ortise and JB.

"They loved the cake," adding that she got her photograph taken with Aston.

The cupcakes also went down a storm with the crew. "It was just great," she said.

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