Business news

Patisserie Proves Icing on the Cake for Anna

Posted By:
South Eastern Regional College (SERC)

2nd Feb 2024

There are not many people who have their own business before they hit 20 years of age, but smart cookie, Anna Davison, is one such person.   The young woman has found the perfect recipe for topping up her skills and experience and building her own bakery enterprise.

Following her GCSEs, Anna (19), from Gilford in County Down, progressed from Banbridge High School to South Eastern Regional College (SERC), where she completed Level 2 Professional Bakery and Level 3 Patisserie and Confectionery. She said, “I absolutely loved moving on to college and the whole experience I gained there. My tutors were very passionate about their work and inspired everyone in the class to do their best – this really boosted my confidence in the kitchen. The course also gave me access to amazing opportunities which I fully availed of such as competing in the International Food Exhibition (IFEX) Belfast; a two-week work placement in a wedding cake bakery in Valencia – fully funded by the Turing Scheme; and mentoring support which helped me prepare for my own business.”

She added, “I really enjoyed every day of the course, from trying new recipes to perfecting new skills and techniques. All the time we were building on practical and creative skills; we were learning how to operate in a successful kitchen in the industry – working as part of a team, structuring your day and time management. Project based learning (PBL) is integral to the courses, so we planned and prepared for functions, taking turns in the role of head chef, which means you’re in charge of everything that happens in the kitchen. From day one, everything was about preparation for real work in the industry. The work experience in Valencia also helped prepare me for work, as I learnt what it means to run a bigger bakery with a large team. Studying at college was fun too, I loved the craic we had in class, and I made lifelong friends.”

The young woman progressed from SERC to her own business.   She said, “I have a small business called Bake My Day with Anna (@bakemyday_withanna on Facebook and Instagram). I structure my schedule so I can work 3 days a week, creating bespoke buttercream cakes as requested by customers. Last year I branched into the wedding cake market, which is exciting and a super achievement as it is a fiercely competitive market. I also work part time as a decorator at the Rosehip Bakery in Banbridge. I love working there as I get to make lots of different things and am continually learning from my colleagues.

“A typical day in Bake My Day with Anna consists of keeping on top of social media. It’s so easy to forget to post or take photos of my work but that’s how I get recognition and orders.   Then it’s baking and decorating orders and of course keeping on top of stock.  The cakes and bakes are bespoke, each one is a special bake for a special person, couple, team or to mark an occasion…so being a bit of a chatterbox, I love talking with my customers so I can get creative with their ideas.   When they are happy, then I am happy.

When asked what piece of advice she would give someone considering a career in this area, Anna said, “Perseverance is key. Starting a business can be nerve-wrecking, and everyone will have good days and bad days, but hard work and determination always pays off. For me, that’s the icing on the cake.”

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