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The Artisan Baker

Plotting to “take over the world one cupcake at a time” Caitlyn and Sophie have a fearless approach to running their Camden Lock bakery – to great success.

Caitlyn Badham-Thornhill and Sophie Beale, Cupcakes & Shhht, Camden

Driven by a plan to “take over the world one cupcake at a time”, Caitlyn Badham-Thornhill and Sophie Beale quit their jobs and set up shop in Camden Lock Market. And armed with the belief that businesses don’t have to be too serious to be successful, together they came up with the name Cupcakes & Shhht.

Focusing on raw, vegan, baked and gluten-free treats, they hand-make all of their products with local, natural and fair-trade ingredients.

We spoke to Caitlyn about their journey, which began with an idea hatched in a bar and ended with a successful and speciality bakery.

Can you tell us a little about what you did before running your own business?

I moved to England from South Africa on my own and started working in a pub, but my focus was on a dream that I’ve had since I was a child.

I knew that, no matter what I was doing, I was still working towards my dream of being an entrepreneur.

When I finally plucked up the courage to apply for a job working in a bakery, I had no educational experience, so I was a bit intimidated, but quickly my determination got me as far as I'd hoped. After a year of working with the bakery, I met Sophie. 

How did it all begin?

That's when it all began! We became best friends and inseparable. We shared the same outlook in life and the same business goals.

Within hours of meeting we were at a local bar discussing our cunning plan to take over the world one cupcake at a time. So we bought the name, quit our jobs and the rest is history.

We started in Camden Lock Market – we've been there four years now. It will always be our home; it's seen us at the very bottom and helped us grow. 

What’s your concept?

Our concept is to create great-tasting good food that is as healthy as it can be. To source our ingredients locally, sustainably and ethically.

To share our knowledge and passion for food with as many people as possible – and obviously to have fun while doing it! 

How did you come up with the name? Ever had any problems?

We came up with the name together, at the bar, and the same night we bought the name. Nothing too serious – could you guess?

Sophie said she wanted to “make Shhht and sell it”, and I said I wanted to “bake Shhht and sell it”. So it was obvious that the name had to be Cupcakes & Shhht.

We've never had any problems with the name. None that we know of at least. We have had the odd passerby just not get it, but each to their own.

Otherwise, people take photos of our sign almost every second in Camden Market. We've even had people take 'just married' wedding pictures in front of our sign! 

What three tips would you give to other small-business owners?

Just go for it! Anyone who says “don't do it” is someone who hasn't had the taste of truly following a dream. What's the worst that could happen? 

Persevere. Times will be tough. But if you’ve got far enough to believe you could do it in the first place, there's no reason to give up now. Love what you do and love working hard for it. That's the key.

A to-do list is your best friend. No one has ever been there for you as much as your notepad. Write down your ideas and see if you can tick them off.

As a business owner you are the skeleton of your business. You are everything. You will have a lot to do, all the time. It's impossible to remember everything! 

Click here to browse bakeries for sale in the UK

Melanie Luff

About the author

Mel wrote for all titles in the Dynamis stable including, and as well as other global industry publications.


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