Last year, we celebrated International Women’s Day with an event and marketplace showcasing some amazing small businesses, run by women in Wales.
Who knew that, just two weeks later, we’d go into a UK-wide lockdown?!
To mark this years’ International Women’s Day, we caught up with three of these women, to see how they’ve managed to keep going during the pandemic.
Here’s Flora Purcell, from Food with Flora.
It all changed for me when I went on maternity leave, and then took a career break. I was baking a lot more and people kept saying to me that I should do it for a living – so I did.
I started the August before lockdown and began by supplying Arboreal Kitchen in Cowbridge. It’s a Michelin-rated, independent Café Kitchen Bar and they gave me such a lovely platform. They acted as mentors to me and would supply my cakes and display my Florentines and chocolate-covered dates for everyone to see. It just took off from there.
I then started selling at local events, just like the Hugh James International Women’s Day event. My home-made brownies and Florentines always went down well. But it all stopped with lockdown in March 2020.
Fortunately, I had a call that same month from a new farm shop that was opening locally. The Forage Farm Shop in Cowbridge sells fresh, local products and they asked me if I would start supplying them with my cakes.
While the shop and restaurant were closed, they were still able to deliver to people’s homes. And that became my main source of income. It was a fantastic support to me. They’d put my produce in with their deliveries of veg and meat boxes and it all went a bit wild really.
People were contacting me with extra orders – wanting me to bake cakes to send to their loved ones. I think lockdown made people want to spread a bit of happiness and joy with those they were separated from. The pandemic also made people more conscious of the importance of supporting local businesses and producers, which is great to see.
So, in between the various firebreaks and lockdowns, I’d be supplying the Forage Farm Shop and restaurant, yo-yoing between that and my custom orders, and deliveries. I was constantly adapting and switching things up. It got so busy at one point over the summer, I even ran out of flour!
Looking ahead and the future is bright. I’ve been invited to open a pop-up shop in Cowbridge in June for 2 weeks, as a collaboration with some other women in business. And I’ll be continuing to supply the farm shop and Arboreal Kitchen. It’s been a whirlwind of a year.
There’s no doubt that gifting cakes became more popular than before – because of the tough times we were all going through. It’s been like a tidal wave for us all, where we’ve needed to find ways to let people know we still love and care for them, even though we can’t see them.
And what better way of doing that than with cake?!