Turning a passion for cakes into a successful career - by Tracey Rashid, founder of Essence of Cake
I'm incredibly passionate about the cakes I bake. I put my all into each
one, and I suppose my earliest baking memory must be Mum buying
me 'Microwave Cooking for Kids' and leaving me to it in the kitchen,
making an almighty mess and thoroughly enjoying every minute.
Mum tasted everything I made with a smile on her face, even if the
results weren't always as expected! We joke in our family that the
baking talent skipped a generation but Grandma, and her incredible
Jamaican Rum Cake, was certainly my baking inspiration. I'll never
forget the day she leaned in and whispered in my ear, 'Tracey, when I'm
gone, I've left you some money to start a business'.
At the time, I was busy enjoying a successful corporate career in
London and happy to be known for bringing in the best birthday cakes,
so setting up a business was the last thing on my mind. Grandma's
words planted a seed in my mind, though, which would take a few more
years to grow.
I was heartbroken when Grandma passed away and, while her
inheritance wasn't quite enough to set up shop (with 48 grandkids, she
clearly thought money could go further than it did!), I used her money to invest in my first KitchenAid and enrolled on a cake-decorating course. I started to wonder if baking could be more than just a hobby. Taking a break from work to start a family gave me time to think - even if that time was during 3 AM feeds! I realised I could transform my passion into a career that allowed me to work around my new family's schedule and, on the 3 rd June 2017 Essence of Cake was born!
I took up shop at 30 High Street and was regularly told it was the ‘wrong
side’ of the high street, but it didn’t stop the customers coming, enjoying
tea, cake and a good old chat. I really got to know people in South
Norwood and fell in love with the place even more. The Croydon
Advertiser even paid me a visit and wrote an article about my passion.
I did book a stall at the Clock Tower Market on one occasion but I found
that having the shop to bake for and manage as well as the stall was a
little too much, so parked that idea for the time being.
As I was becoming more established in the community the number of
cake orders I received rapidly increased and I found I was closing the
shop more often to be able to work on the cake designs at home. There
simply wasn’t the space at the shop to decorate cakes. After 18 months
of trading I made the tough yet positive decision to close the shop and
work from home and I haven’t looked back.The Clocktower Market is currently an integral part of my business. Even when I am unable to attend in person, my stall is always there and I would not change that for the world. I've taken cake orders and even afternoon tea orders at the market and I am always intrigued to see what comes next.