Mich Turner, Queen of Couture Cakes, on Baking for David Beckham
Mich Turner MBE is founder of Little Venice Cake Company and often described as the ‘Queen of Couture Cakes’, thanks to her award winning designs and celebrity clientele including Her Majesty The Queen, Madonna, Pierce Brosnan, Sharon & Ozzy Osbourne, Cheryl Cole, Gordon Ramsey and David Beckham.
Among her many awards and accolades, Mich was named Harper’s Bazaar & CHANEL Entrepreneur of the Year 2006, and in 2009 Little Venice Cake Company was listed in the Walpole Luxury Brands of Tomorrow. In 2010 Mich was honoured with receiving an MBE for her services to the catering industry.
Mich is a successful author of four books and her latest 20-part television series, Britain’s Best Bakery aired on ITV daytime in November and December 2012, drawing in 2.3 million viewers at its peak.
Mich is often asked to design cakes for high profile brands and has worked with Dr. Oetker, Allinson’s, Baileys, Divine Chocolate, United Biscuits, Silverspoon, Finsbury Foods, and stores including Harrods and Fortnum & Mason. She also has her own range of cake decorating tools licensed under the LVCC brand.
We spoke to Mich about winning high profile customers; balancing motherhood with a demanding career; and what it takes to make it as an entrepreneur!
TNW: What makes your company different from your competitors?
MT: I started my company with the ethos of providing the best – in terms of product, service, experience, design and professionalism. This is something we’ve maintained since the company started in 1999.
TNW: In a saturated market (especially now, when cakes and baking are so trendy), what sets your company apart?
MT: I came into the cake market 15 years ago before it was trendy. As a qualified food scientist with a talent for making cakes I have the authority and the experience to be recognised as an leader in this market. I have written a number of award winning books, won several entrepreneurial awards and have an MBE. I have made cakes for many high profile clients and have a range of LVCC cake tools and edible ingredients around the world. I hold masterclasses in this country and overseas, and my classes are in huge demand.
TNW: Who were your first customers and how hard was it to attract them?
MT: My first customers were guests of the leading five star London Hotels who were holding their weddings in these esteemed venues.
My reputation grew as being reliable, trustworthy and good. We relied on word of mouth as it’s a powerful tool within the wedding market.
TNW: Who are your customers and partners now?
MT: Now that the business has developed to offer more with the LVCC cake tools, my books and also masterclasses, my customers are now spread all over the world. Accomplished decorators and enthusiastic novices who are keen to learn from me to be able to follow my style of cake making and decorating.
TNW: How did you secure such high profile clients as David Beckham and Harrods? What is your advice for entrepreneurs looking to get their products noticed by the right people?
MT: My clients have all come to me by word of mouth. My reputation is such that people expect great products from Little Venice Cake Company. I think it is important to have confidence in your product, make it the best - there will always be a market for quality.
Get to know the right PR that can make a difference. Think where your products are aimed and for whom and associate with those synergistic brands. Put yourself in the customers’ shoes – what would make you buy the product?
Spend more on getting other people to say how great your product is rather than spending on advertising to blow your own trumpet.
Take opportunities to network and remember there is always more you could be doing.
TNW: What does your day look like?
MT: My day starts at 4.45am as my husband gets up for work. He leaves by 5.30am at which time I get up run household chores, get my children ready for school and do the school run. Travel by train into London to arrive at my studio by 9.30am. my day could involve meeting with clients, running a masterclass, preparing for an overseas show, working on a photo shoot for the new book, conference calls with buyers, suppliers, partners, as well as actually decorating real celebration cakes. I may have an evening event, otherwise I try to be home by 7pm to put the children to bed. Household chores, internet shopping (groceries, clothes, skincare) and preparing for the following day – children, husband, my outfit.
TNW: What is your top tip for balancing motherhood with a career?
MT: Super time management, non-procrastination. Don’t expect any ‘Me’ time – that way you won’t be disappointed when you have none – and will be pleasantly surprised when you occasionally do. Don’t get involved in playground politics.
TNW: Do you lie awake at night sometimes thinking about the company? What aspects of it specifically keep you awake?
Yes – excitement of the business, the never ending to do lists, thinking through options and scenarios.
TNW: What is next for your company?
MT: We will be launching the range of LVCC cake tools globally, with 5 award winning books and a range of edibles to accompany due out later this year.
TNW: Do you have plans to expand internationally? Which countries and when?
MT: Yes, 2013 is an exciting year. See above re LVCC cake tools launching. Plus my books are already available globally in numerous languages.
TNW: Is there a moment in the history of your company which you remember as the highlight so far?
MT:It has to be receiving the letter to say I was being honoured with an MBE – this was an amazing way to receive recognition for all the hard work.
TNW: If you hadn’t chosen entrepreneurship, what alternative career path might you have pursued?
MT: Forensic scientist – my background is science and it’s fascinating.
TNW: What lessons have you taken from your successes &/or failures?
Run the business with an even keel – the highs will be higher, the lows will be lower – learn to accept both with grace.
TNW: What is one lesson about leadership you learned from a boss or mentor?
MT: Run your business on profitability, not creativity.
TNW: Do you have any role models or mentors?
MT: We work with Walpole – supporting British Premium Luxury companies. With their wealth of knowledge there isn’t something they haven’t seen before – this can be very reassuring as being an entrepreneur can be very lonely.
TNW: Do you have any tips or any advice for women who are thinking about becoming entrepreneurs?
Don’t expect to have a social life, watch TV or entertain with dinner parties. Be prepared to sleep little and be all things to all people.
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