This year we’ve all been seeking comfort at home and what can be more reassuring than a cup of tea and a biscuit? But a biscuit can represent so much more.
One person who understands the power of the biscuit is Enchanting Bakes owner Griselda Soames, who specialises in creating bespoke biscuits for businesses. Her designs have been used by brands as part of their marketing and PR strategy but recently she’s changed tack as companies have been using her biscuits to help engage their employees working at home, proving that when it comes to communication the icing on the … biscuit. We caught up with her to find out more.
How are you and how have the last few months been?
What a strange few months. At the beginning I saw the order book go from looking pretty healthy to literally every single order cancelling within 48 hours. After an initial bout of defeatism, I realise that actually as a small business, I have the ability to adapt and refocus literally overnight.
So rather than relying on our core business (logo and branded biscuits for events, product launches, parties etc.), I created a new approach focusing on letterbox friendly, custom, gift boxes to be sent on an individual level, and also for companies to send to their remote working, or furloughed staff. A custom biscuit gift box to let staff know they are missed, appreciated and still part of a team – the response has been amazing with companies reporting back that employees were delighted to receive their biscuit treats. I have developed the range to include different options including personalised and branded message biscuits through to photo biscuits, individual tea bags (a cup of tea and a biscuit), biscuit medals and even branded gingerbread men wearing icing facemasks!
Have you always been entrepreneurial?
I worked in sales and marketing initially in traditional publishing, but joined the digital world as it was just starting to grow in the UK. Whilst I was always working for a larger company, being at the beginning of such a dynamic and exciting industry surrounded by people who were creating products and brands that were changing the world was amazing. Even in a larger organisation, I think everyone has a little bit of entrepreneur in them in the way you look at your part of a bigger business and decide how to develop it. Certainly the early digital media days were incredible with the ability to just get on and do stuff as we were always working on something new with no rules or designs of what had gone before.
Where did you get the idea for Enchanting Bakes?
After having children, I wanted to reinvent to something with more flexible hours, where I was in control of my working life, and something I felt genuine passion for. I have always loved food and baking, so started making some birthday biscuits for friends to see how they were received. Turns out everyone LOVED them!
Biscuits for business is such a great idea. What made you move into this area?
I love biscuits (no interest in cupcakes!) and I love the emotional connection people have to them. It made me think that I can combine my sales and marketing background with my love of baking and create biscuits that do more than taste good. The idea of using something as universally loved as biscuits as part of a communications strategy just made sense to me. Whether you are launching a new product, creating stand out at a pitch, raising brand awareness, thanking clients or employees, sending seasonal greetings…custom made biscuits are something that has been thought through, custom made, delicious and memorable. I always think people are happy when they are eating a biscuit, so why would you not want your brand associated with that!
How do brands work with you?
I have a fantastic roster of clients we work with including Penguin Books, BBC, Bang & Olufsen, Topshop Personal Shopping, Dorling Kindersley, Watermans, Chantecaille, London & Partners, in addition to lots of PR, creative, marketing, ad and digital agencies. We will have a conversation about what they are looking for – their objectives and goals for the biscuits, event, meeting, gift – and suggest solutions from there. It is important to think about not only the biscuits but the packaging and labelling too as these can be a great additional element to a simple biscuit. I love thinking through ideas for each order and applying both my biscuit experience, and also my marketing experience to each one.
Your biscuits have been used in some great promotions. Any favourites?
Each time I make a new design, it becomes my absolute favourite! However, there are a few orders that have stuck out! I love working with some of the UK’s leading book publishers and making edible versions of Becoming by Michelle Obama will always be a highlight (and in my world means I know her…kind of…!). And as someone who loved The Hungry Caterpillar as a child, and then reading it to my children, I loved making the 50th birthday celebration biscuits.
Some of the responses I have to the biscuit gifts we have sent out to teams during lockdown have been quite wonderful. The simple gesture of a biscuit being sent to people in so many situations at such an unsettling time, and all working remotely has been quite a privilege to work on. Biscuits can’t fix things, but they do make everything a little bit better.
Your workshops are great for team building. How do they work?
The workshops are fantastic. They can be as hands on, or as passive as people would like. In my experience, even the most reticent of participants gets involved when they have a piping bag in their hand! I have tailored them to work for the client whether they want something like mindful colouring in with edible felt pens (calming, relaxing and surprisingly engaging), creating seasonal treats such as piping Easter biscuits, or decorating Christmas jumpers with fondant icing. There are different levels of engagement and time-allocation that clients are looking for, and each workshop is tailored to work to their criteria. A great example was a workshop I ran at the BBC where 6 teams were given blank biscuits, piping bags and square images to reproduce with the icing. We then put all the squares together at the end to make one large picture which everyone has decorated a little part of.
You bake for Holly&Co from Not On The Hightstreet. What’s it been like having her support your business?
I love working for Holly & Co. There are some staple designs we know are best sellers there, and then every month they have a theme change and we design and create new, incredible biscuits. The whole team is wonderful, and Holly is a relentless cheerleader for small businesses up and down the country. Throughout lockdown I made small batches of themed biscuits for her Small Business Online tea parties that were fantastic to be a part of – reassuring, positive, knowledgeable and fun. I really do love baking for her!
Your biscuits are truly Insta worthy. How important is the platform for you?
Instagram is my primary social media channel. It is a great way to get the personality of your business across and showcase what you can do. I also do feel like I have a bit of an Insta-family – other small business and people who all support each other. Some of them I have never met, but it really does feel like a great community. I am always being told that I need to be more prominent on it as the face behind the business, but I still prefer posting biscuits rather than me
How do you see the business developing?
The business is always evolving. I would love to keep doing more workshops as they are so well received – seeing people relax, chat and create for 1-2 hours is a joy. Obviously these are on hold at the moment, but hopefully we can get back to these at some point. I will keep developing the product range, and the clients we are working with. I feel very privileged to have a company making something so appreciated at such a difficult time for so many.
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