Female Founders - Natalie Shilton, The Nakery
Take me back

#FemaleFounders: Natalie Shilton, The Nakery

Everyone loves cakes. Unfortunately, most of them don’t love us back.

Even with the health-conscious direction that society seems to be moving towards, a cake that is delicious, as well as harmless, still seems too good to be true. Liverpool-based entrepreneur Natalie Shilton spotted this gap in the market back in 2015. Little did she know, her hobby for creating healthy treats was going to grow to become one of Liverpool’s favourite independent dessert spots.

We had the pleasure of interviewing Natalie to find out how The Nakery went on to take the city by storm.

1. Why did you start your business? What spurred you on?

I have always been passionate about healthy living. Eventually, it became my mission to find a sweet treat that tasted delicious without the need for a huge list of ingredients (usually starting with sugar and ending with additives that I couldn’t pronounce). I couldn’t find anything suitable anywhere, so I decided to make my own from scratch. I didn’t think anything of it at first and certainly didn’t predict how much it was going to change my life. I was nervous about other people’s opinions, but in the end, I let go of all that and set up an Instagram page called ‘Nat’s Natural Nutrition’ (which would later be rebranded to The Nakery). I started sending out samples, mainly to friends and family. They all loved them which gave me the confidence and drive to push myself further.

2. What are the unique challenges you have faced as a female founder?

I definitely find that it can be difficult sometimes as a young female founder. People don’t always take me seriously due to both my gender and my age. However, I do feel that the stigma against female business owners is gradually improving. I have found that more people are opening up to the fact that women are equally as capable of starting a successful business as men are.

3. What were the three steepest learning curves during your first year in business?

The first year in business is the most exciting, but it’s also a huge learning curve. We made a lot of mistakes as a new business but always learned valuable lessons. The three main obstacles during the first year were:

  1. I moved the business from my home kitchen into a commercial unit. We chose somewhere that ended up being unsuitable and I had signed a 12-month lease. Luckily, the landlord was able to give us some leeway and we found a better unit in the end.
  2. I had to decide if I wanted to stay in university to complete my Psychology degree or leave to focus on the business. It wasn’t an easy decision as it felt like I was going against the grain, but I chose to go with my gut instinct and ended up leaving to pursue my business goals.
  3. Raising capital was difficult at first, as I didn’t take any investment. I relied on my own savings and borrowing from family. It’s tough, but I truly believe the only way to build a successful business is to take risks.

4. What is your favourite thing about founding your own company?

My favourite thing about running a business is that I get to take full responsibility for my life. You only get out what you put in, so I know that if I put the hard work in now – I can reap the rewards later. I love that I do something that makes me happy and I never find myself dreading Mondays. Despite the ups and downs, I am grateful for every day that I get to carry on with this amazing journey.

5. What is the best business advice you have been given by someone else?

The best business advice that I’ve heard is definitely to take big risks; especially when you’re young.

You can never lose when taking a risk, you only ever win or learn.

6. Do you ever suffer from Imposter Syndrome? If so, what do you do to tackle it?

I definitely suffer from imposter syndrome. I find that the best way to tackle it is to question my thoughts. When overthinking, I tell myself ‘thinking like this isn’t helpful or rational, so I need to let it go’. I also find that looking back on how far I’ve come can help. Sometimes, we can get too caught up in the process and forget about all the great things we’ve already achieved.

7. What’s the best book on business you’ve read?

I haven’t read many, as I decided to just throw myself in the deep end and learn along the way. Although, I really admire Gary Vaynerchuk. I own a few of his books and listen to his podcasts; he really helps with putting things into perspective.

8. Tell us about another brilliant business woman you think our readers should know about

Carley Jones, the founder of Kettlebell Kitchen, is absolutely amazing. She is definitely a huge inspiration for all women in business!

9. What piece of advice would you give yourself if you were starting your business now?

I would say not to worry so much, as everything happens for a reason. There is no rush to have it all figured out, even when society makes us think there is sometimes.

10. If you were working with a marketing budget of £1,000, what would you spend the money on?

I would spend it primarily on promoting ads on Facebook and Instagram. They are so underpriced at the moment and those platforms, in particular, are where the attention of our target audience is.

Thanks for reading!

Enjoyed Natalie’s story? Check out our other posts in the Female Founders series to keep the inspiration train going. If you want more of The Nakery, we mention them in our recent post – 5 Small Business Liverpool Instagrams that You Need to Follow.

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