Three women, who make break, cake and cake pops, tell Emma Pritchard how they cooked up a recipe for success.

Dawn Hunt, 50, is married with a daughter and three stepsons. She set up The Ipsy Doodle Cake Pop Factory with Sue Crosbie, 48, who she met when they were both working at a department store. They live in West Yorkshire.


Description: Description: Together we tapped into a new trend – our cake pops are the new cupcake

“Together we tapped into a new trend – our cake pops are the new cupcake!”

The idea Sue and I met in February 2010 and instantly hit it off. We were both passionate about food and eager to set up our own business. When Sue showed me a cake pop recipe book that she’d found on an American website, I knew we’d found a niche in the UK. Cupcakes had already saturated the market, but these were new and fun, and the design and flavour possibilities seemed endless. We decided to pool our experience and savings.


Description: Description:  A selection of Ipsy Doodle Cake Pops

A selection of Ipsy Doodle Cake Pops

What happened next We left our jobs in July, supported by husbands, and spent three months testing cake pop recipes at home, using a chocolate melter from Argos! At first, we couldn’t get the consistency right and they kept falling off the stick, but we adjusted the ingredients until we had a product that held its shape and tasted great. Opening a shop from the start would have been a huge risk, so we paid a web designer friend of Sue’s husband £5,500 to create an online shopping cart for us. We pooled our savings and paid £26,000 to convert Sue’s garage into a commercial kitchen, with stainless-steel work surfaces, large-scale melting pots and a packing area. We had hygiene checks carried out, and trialled various types of packaging, from cellophane bags to boxes, to see which ones survived best in the post. We went with a local manufacture, who made bespoke boxes with our logo and the ingredients list printed on them. We agreed to buy in bulk – 1,500 per order – so they each cost less than a pound. When we wrote our business plan, we had targeted our product at children – my daughter is grown up, but Sue’s is six – in fact, we actually have more corporate clients.

Where we are now On our first day of trading, we sat in our shiny new kitchen with no orders and the telephone never rang. It was a tense time, but it showed we couldn’t wait for business to come to us. We cold-called local farm shops and delis, joined networking groups and asked for coverage in local press. Orders trickled in slowly – one box of eight for an anniversary, two for a birthday – but word started to spread. In December, we paid £250 for a stall at a two-day Christmas fair in Wetherby, and the 500 cake pops we’d taken sold out at a promotional price of £2 each. We had a lot of orders as a result. We were also commissioned to make light bulb-shaped cake pops for a local electrical company to send out to its UK-based clients, and we’re now stocked in five local food shops and a bridal shop in Cambridge. We make around 450 cake pops a day and sell in batches of eight, which cost between £20 and £24. We’re experimenting with a range of dessert flavours, such as tiramisu, sticky toffee pudding and lemon meringue. When we started, we took half an hour to make each cake pop, but now it takes one minute. We hand pack them, calling on friends and family to help during the busy Christmas, Valentine’s and Easter periods.

Glitches Some courier companies were better at delivering delicate parcels than others, so it took longer than anticipated to find one to work with. Then cost was an issue, especially on smaller orders – there was a set £7.50 charge for packages up to 10kg. We felt this was too high so charged customers £6, absorbing the cost in our profit margin. As orders increase, we have been able to negotiate better fees.

My tips Do your research. Trawl the Internet to see what other competition is out there, then ask them for advice. We often get calls from new start-ups and, if we’d had their confidence, it could have saved a lot of time with planning.

Business in figures

Launched October 2011

Start-up costs £35,000

Current turnover £100,000


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