Here at House of Coco there are few things that make us happier than cake does. Sophie Cabot started her cake design business in 2014 after a burgeoning fascination of how to make beautiful art out of cake and life long admiration of famous cake designers. Growing up with a love of baking and all things sweet, Sophie learnt her baking skills from her grandmother‘s and mother’s kitchen. Home was never without delicious smells and mouth‐watering goodies.
Here, we spent some time with Sophie to find out more…
Tell us a bit about your journey getting your brand where it is today?
It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster… I quit my job as an arts administrator with the determination to run my own business. I can’t exactly pin point why I set upon cake decorating it was a very random decision. All I knew was that I had to do something creative; I was getting itchy fingers sitting at a computer for four years. Since I was a child I had always admired Jane Asher. I regularly walked passed and gawped at the fabulous cakes in her shop window in Chelsea. Who knows perhaps it started there…
Before finishing my job I did a cake decorating diploma and immediately fell in love with it. Thankfully it turned out I wasn’t too bad at it either as this could have been a bit of a hiccup in my plans. Over the first few months I started creating and designing demonstration cakes, did the odd order for friends and family, including my first wedding cake. On top of this all the boring admin work had to be done, and seemed to take far too long. I was doing all this from home, not easy especially with so equipment taking every possible space. I officially launched myself as a business 4 months into freelance life. I had a big party, showed off my cakes and ate lots of cake of course! My website then went live and I set up on social media and tried to spread the word as much as possible. Funds were and are always limited so forking out for outside pr was not an option. However you should never underestimate the strength of word of mouth, it’s worked a dream for me and I’m grateful to each and everyone. After struggling for another 7 months working from home I finally found my studio space which I’ve been nice and settled in for a year now.
You’re clearly very creative especially with your background as a costume designer. What do you when inspiration is lacking?
Luckily this has yet to happen creatively speaking. I’m very fortunate to be living in central London, there is inspiration everywhere, you only need step out of your front door.
What has been your highlight since launching the brand?
Finally finding my own studio space, easier said than done, especially when on a budget. I feel very privileged; it’s my little sweet haven.
Describe the brand in 3 words?
Bespoke, Artistic, Unforgettable
Tell us about your ideal customer?
All clients are entirely and wonderfully unique but I guess ideally it’s someone who has a rough idea/theme of what they want but trusts me enough to have free reign. The world is your oyster when it comes to cake decoration, pretty much anything is possible, so it really helps if clients have thought a little about what they’re after before coming to me.
Tell us what a typical day in your life looks like?
No one-day is the same, it makes my life very varied. When I’m working towards an order/s I have to be extremely organised. The design process happens first (hopefully a minimum of 2/3 weeks before delivery) with perhaps some to-ing and fro-ing of ideas. Once all is confirmed the baking begins and this can take up to 2/3 days depending on the size of the cake/s. With only one small oven and just me doing it all, I can only go so fast! Then come the fillings, which takes longer than you might think and I couldn’t manage without my wonderful Kitchenaid.
Filling, stacking and covering the cake/s might take a whole morning or longer again dependent on size. I always breathe a sigh of relief once I get past this stage because then for me the real fun begins – decorating! I like to make sure I have a full day or more for simply decorating, it’s the icing on the cake ☺
If I’m doing a cake with sugar flowers or lots of extra 3d sugar work I will make sure to do this a good few weeks before even baking. I love doing sugarflower work but it is very time consuming, so to make sure I’m not rushed and enjoy it as much as possible it is always done well in advance.
Who/what inspires you?
So much inspires me, from beautiful flowers to simply chatting with friends and family, I always seem to come up with new ideas. I think because I work by myself I don’t have anyone to bounce ideas off on a day to day basis, so when I’m with family and friends my brain goes into overdrive! It’s funny, when I started cake decorating suddenly I was noticing colours and patterns around me much more.
Ultimately however my mother is my big inspiration, she has always taught me to never give up no matter what.
What do you do in order to switch off from work?
I do ballet and yoga; they completely detoxify the mind, which is essential. As a less energetic outlet making sure to catch up with friends regularly and watching a good movie always helps.
What are your plans for the brand in the rest of 2016?
I’m booked to do my first wedding exhibition at London Olympia at the end of September (23rd/24th/25th), which is exciting but also rather nerve racking, so, there will be lots & lots of prep in the next few months. September will be my first month since launching that is fully booked with orders so I’m thrilled, and super busy!
I’m constantly thinking and making plans for the future and always striving for more but in the immediate I can only plan so far as I never know what orders will be around the corner, it certainly keeps me on my toes!
Did you always know that one day you would be a #Girlboss?
I suppose on some level I did. Having started out my working life as a freelance costume designer I’ve know for a while what it’s like to work for yourself. It’s both rewarding but equally stressful because not only are you doing the basic ‘job description’ but everything else in between. When it’s solely you there is no one else to make the difficult phone call or rely on for doing the mundane day to day stuff. Now with my own business this has graduated enormously. But even when there are bad days these are quickly masked by the rewarding and more often good ones. It’s thoroughly life enhancing being your own boss, I have developed into someone I never imagined I could be. I think we all want to be our own boss secretly!
If there’s one #Girlboss activity you could get better at, what would it be?
I’m always striving to be better at everything. Still being so new to the business my skills are continually developing. I’m a perfectionist so can be extremely hard on myself – it can be a good trait but more often it just holds me up, I’m slowly learning how to let some things go.
For people aspiring to run their own company, what advice would you give?
Stay optimistic and believe in yourself – if you don’t believe and truly love what you do people will see straight through you. Also, don’t be too tough on yourself; whatever you start doing just remember lots of people don’t even manage to get that far. Starting is the biggest hurdle. Go for it!!