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Sarah Joynson can make any occasion special with the skills she put to use in a business venture. Helen Mead sees how
12:31pm Monday 13th February 2012 in Food & Wine
Walking past Sarah Joynson’s shop can be an effort.
Passers-by cannot fail but be drawn in by what they see inside. Beautiful cakes of all sizes and colours, each one as beautiful and mouthwatering as the next.
Jolly birthday cakes, romantic anniversary cakes and splendid wedding cakes sit alongside delicate cup cakes topped with hearts, stars, butterflies and flowers.
It is a captivating scene, and one of which Sarah, who lives near the premises in Burley-in-Wharfedale, is rightly proud.
She set up the shop to fulfil her dream of putting to use the skills she harnessed as a designer, and her love of baking.
“I use my flair and eye for detail, and love seeing how people react when they see their cakes,” she says.
Sarah makes people’s wishes come true with bespoke cakes that have ranged in design from cartoon characters to flowers, trains, boats and pets.
“People bring photographs of cats, dogs and hamsters,” she says, “I baked one cake in the shape of two guinea pigs.”
One of the most difficult designs she has had to translate to a cake was a motorcycle helmet. “It was a challenge – it was very detailed, very intricate, with Italian names on it,” she says.
She has also made a cake depicting a skier racing down a mountain, to reflect someone’s love of the sport.
Cupcakes are very ‘big’ at present, she says. “They are popular for Valentine’s and Mother’s Day, and I do personalised cupcakes for teachers at the end of term,” says Sarah. “I’ve even done cupcakes for weddings with hearts and roses.
“It is getting more common for people to order 20 cupcakes instead of one cake – they are very easy to hand out.
Companies also request them in corporate colours, and I’ve made them as a post-exam treat for students.”
She loves creating children’s birthday cakes best. “I did a Cadbury’s Creme Egg cake for a little girl – she loved it.”
A graphic designer by trade, Sarah took a career break after giving birth to her first child Sam, now 11. She went on to have another son, eight-year-old Matthew, and while she loved her role at home, she felt she needed more.
“I loved being a full-time mum but I missed being creative and needed an outlet,” she recalls.
She spotted an advertisement for sugarcraft classes and fancied having a go. Whenever I was in cake shops I’d always been interested in the design aspect of the cakes,” she says, “And it was the same at parties – I’d look at the cake and the way it was created. I’d see novelty cakes and notice how intricate the designs were.”
Once she began her class she soon mastered the many sugarcrafting techniques. “I learned how to make flowers and about piping and other methods of decorating. I picked up all sorts of ideas.”
She then put her new-found skills to use, making cakes for her family and friends. “It was a hobby – I baked cakes in particular for childrens’ parties.”
Word spread and the requests kept coming. “It was all through word-of-mouth. People would say ‘I heard from so-and-so that you make cakes.’”
She adds: “I really enjoyed it. I loved baking the cakes, and designing the decoration, so doing both was great.”
When Matthew started school Sarah found a job in a children’s nursery. “It fitted in well and I made cakes in the evening,” she says.
“Then, last year Sarah turned 40 and pledged to put her talents to good use. “The need to achieve something and use my skills really hit me,” she says. “I thought that if it didn’t work out at least I’d tried.”
Not long after she noticed a sign went up advertising a shop for rent in the village’s Main Street. “I’d always liked its lovely bay windows either side of the door and thought it would lend itself perfectly to cakes,” she says.
But sadly, it was snapped up by another interested party. “I asked the landlord to let me know if it came up again, and two months later it did,” she says. “It was meant to be.”
She immediately set about putting her own mark on the former pet store, choosing lively, fun colour schemes of candy pinks, blues and yellows, with polka dots. “I hung bunting as well, and the shop looked great - it really brightened it up.”
It was not long before people began stopping and complementing her on the look.
“I had to look into the business side of the shop too, and compile figures,” she says, adding that her data analyst husband Mike is very supportive, as are her family.
Sarah was helped too by the business set-up agencies Business Link and Bradford Council’s Kickstart. “Both gave me ideas and pointed me in the right direction.”
The business took off, and she has not looked back. “When I’m inundated and have to work in the evening it can be exhausting but I try to keep it to a level at which I can cope with the workload,” she says.
For one wedding she baked and decorated 170 cupcakes, working into the night.
“It has been hard work but it is very satisfying,” she says. “It is wonderful to see people’s faces light up when they see their cake, particularly children who get so excited.”
Sarah's Cake Studio, Main Street, Burley-in-Wharfedale, Ilkley LS29 7JN, email@example.com, 01943-865483