Cake! Have we got your attention? Good. Prepare yourself for some serious sweet-tooth cravings after reading this interview.
After winning The Apprentice back in 2016, boss baker Alana Spencer has gone on to found her delicious cake business: Ridiculously Rich by Alana. Alana produces a range of luxury cakes that you can buy online, as part of a subscription service, in shops or at Alana’s bakery in Aberystwyth.
Alana has bought out Lord Sugar from Ridiculously Rich, running it on her own as an independent ‘cakepreneur’.
Let’s learn about Alana’s journey from Apprentice winner to fully-fledged female founder
1. Which 3 skills would you say are crucial to being a company founder?
- Be confident in your product/service
- Know your margins to make sure you are making money
- Be willing to put in the graft!
2. If you could learn more about one area of marketing, what would it be?
Social media has become my main form of marketing and it really works for the business and the brand. It’s a great tool, so I guess even better ways to connect through social media would be my choice.
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Today we opened the shop doors. It was so much busier than I could have imagined. I was in and out of the bakery producing but I managed to speak to lots of you but those I didn’t get to say thank you to, thank you for your support. Honestly I feel quite emotional thinking abut it (that could be the 4 hours sleep and massive hang over though) see you all next Friday for more delicious treats. I can’t wait to do the whole thing again.
3. What are the challenges you face now that are different from when you started your business?
I used to produce all the cakes myself in my small bakery kitchen; baking all week and then taking them to a food festival or market to sell at the weekend before it became too much for my little kitchen and we outsourced to a lovely bakery and team for almost 2 years. We have recently taken back production and distribution of our goods and now that the business is so much bigger, running a bakery, managing a team and all the deadlines that come with it is definitely a new challenge!
4. What are the biggest barriers you face when it comes to growing your business?
Honestly, my biggest barrier is probably just time. Even if you are talking to a new supplier that is really keen to stock you, it is very rare that these deals happen overnight, and if they do it might be too good to be true! These things take time and when you so desperately want to grow your business, sometimes it is hard to be patient.
5. What’s your biggest business achievement to date?
Winning the BBC Apprentice was obviously a proud moment for me. But more recently, the new bakery we built – set up and staffed ourselves, producing the same delicious cake every day for our customers – is something I am proud of!
6. How did you recognise that you were an entrepreneurial person?
I started a small card business while I was in school so that I could earn a bit of money and ended up sacking my best friend because she was making the cards too slowly; I think that was a sign! I have always had ideas for different projects or businesses and always wanted to find ways to earn money, I couldn’t stop thinking of it when I was younger and always had something on the go.
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Today was a long one! Just leaving the bakery now but it was also an exciting one. We sent out our first online orders using cakes we made in our own bakery with my very own hands. We also made a big decision to ditch the single use plastic from our slices instead wrapping them in a grease proof wrap which looks a whole lot cuter and is a whole lot kinder to our lovely planet. New Website will be launching soon with lots of new flavours for you to try so watch this space. I also have a big announcement to make next week, so much happening ????
7. What makes you proudest about your company?
I am proud that my company has managed to adapt through the years; I started this business 10 years ago selling fresh handmade chocolates, then moved to fudge and then moved to cake to keep up with what customers wanted but also what would keep my business alive, a lot of businesses fail if they can’t adapt. I am also proud of the Self-Serve Retail Units that I designed and installed in a number of convenience stores and service stations across the country. Customers care more and more about what is in the products they buy and want that bit of artisanal indulgence, I am proud that as a company we can offer that.
8. If someone was struggling with their confidence, what would your advice be?
If it is confidence within your business or your brand, remember why you started it in the first place. Take some time to relook at your brand and your products or service. Even write down the things you love about it, ask your friends and family to tell you what they love about it too.
You started your business for a reason, if you are passionate about what you are doing, others will be too.
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Fridays are now my favourite day of the week. Serving lots of you delicious cakes that we baked here in my own bakery in Aberystwyth. This week we will have some new treats for you all to try and the usual classics too. Can’t wait to see lots more cake lovers this Friday and every Friday after that. For those that don’t know we open from 11-7 every Friday and our address is unit 2.2, Park Melin, Aberystwyth, SY233JQ ???? beautiful photographs by @naomicampbellphotography
9. If you could magically change one thing about your business now, what would it be?
Having my products and Self-Serve Retail units in every service station in the UK would be magical wouldn’t it? Right now I would be happy to just get through the mountain of Christmas orders we have!
10. What are 2 characteristics you look for when you are hiring someone to work for you?
Someone that isn’t afraid to work hard and takes pride in their work.
Have your blog and read it too
We hope you found the interview as ridiculously rich as Alana’s cakes! For the foodies out there, we have two other interviews that may interest you; Jeni Wadkin, founder of Siren and Natalie Shilton, founder of The Nakery.