A sweet tooth and a sweet heart – Susan Holtham

Who wouldn’t want to be friends with Susan considering the non-stop supply of cakes and sweets? “I’m continually trying out new recipes [of cakes] and forcing them on friends and neighbours!”

Susan Holtham has been a self-proclaimed amateur baker for the past four years. She decided to take a chance and make her full-time job part-time, while dedicating the other part to her cake business.

“Although I know it won’t be easy, I’m really excited about the future. I aim to expand the output of the business and refine areas to develop for the kind of business that I want to have,” says Susan.

Her business, as she calls it, is a micro-bakery, which is described as “one which has fewer than ten employees and a turnover or balance sheet total of less than €2 million” by the United Kingdom definition. Behind the scenes of all the beautiful cakes and cupcakes, is a home kitchen and small-scale production.

Susan loves sweets and has been baking since she was a child. Her parents were open-minded and gave her free-reign in the kitchen. She is quite determined and knows how to plan ahead. The only question that trips her is: what desserts do you like the best‎ if you have to choose?

“This is a hard question! I love vanilla and berry based desserts, a berry frangipane tart with clotted cream ice cream would be heaven. Or any ice cream to be honest! I love creamy rather than chocolate-y things…”

She’s been carefully planning ahead before completely resigning from her other job.

“I’ve built a small but loyal customer base and a new, independent café opened up locally this summer – working with them to supply their cakes gave me the push I needed.”

Smash Bang Dollop is the name of Susan’s cake business. She explained to us how she came up with the name and how the Pop movement inspired it.

“I love to experiment with bold and interesting flavours without being too fussy. I started to think about the ideas behind comics and graphic novels – such as fantasy, superpowers, explosions and nostalgia – a few puns later and Smash Bang Dollop was born!”

Although Susan has more flexibility in running her business now, it is still a big task. She starts early in the morning and prepares all the orders she has, which includes delivery to the café and a local market. She spends the rest of her day doing social media work and research and usually ends it by prepping ingredients for the next day’s bake.

Susan shares one of her most impressive orders with us.

“I recently made a huge rainbow cake for the independent British jewellery retailer Tatty Devine with less than 24 hours notice to celebrate their 15th birthday. I absolutely love their style and so although it was a tight-turnaround, it was a dream come true!”

Smash Bang Dollop does not have a physical shop. Susan relies on social media, which has become a crucial tool for the self-funded business. Even though resources are little and it will take time to see any kind of profit, Susan enjoys every minute of it.

“I’m really enjoying the new found time I have to put real effort and energy into it, meet some more like-minded people and make some new connections whose job it is to love talking about food!”

In the future, Susan is targeting more weddings, corporate orders, creative commissions and a brand new online ordering website.

We asked her if she had a piece of advice: “If you’re thinking of starting up a business, the best advice I’ve been given is: just do it!”

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