28-year-old Ameena Nur graduated from The School of Artisan Food with an Advanced Diploma in Artisan Baking in 2017. Thanks to a small business grant from the Prince’s Trust she’s now setting up her own micro-bakery, Jeju’s Bakehouse, in Maybole, Scotland.
After taking a one-day patisserie course at the School, Ameena put her career as an illustrator on hold to study for the diploma:
“I was thinking about becoming a pastry chef when I began the course, I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with bread like I did. I found myself captivated by the possibilities of the bread-making process. I channel my creativity into everything I bake, so it feels like a natural progression to move from being an artist to a baker.
“The School gave me an amazing foundation. Every day I’m using the skills and knowledge I learnt as I bake and build my own artisan baking business. Wayne Caddy, our bread tutor (or ‘Daddy Caddy’ as we like to call him!) is an inspiration. His patience and infectious enthusiasm shone through in every lesson. I learned more from him in a few months than I did from anyone in four years at university.
“Though I initially found the business studies part of the course daunting, Yvonne O’Donovan, my business tutor, helped me achieve things I didn’t know I was capable of. In fact, after my parents, Yvonne was the first person I called when I found out I’d been awarded the grant from the Prince’s Trust!”
Sadly, during Ameena’s first term at the School her sister Khodeja passed away. Ameena says of this difficult time:
“Losing my sister was devastating. If it wasn’t for the support of the staff and my fellow students I would have found it extremely difficult to keep going. Going through that experience made me rethink a lot of things; with everyone’s support I found the strength to pick myself up and focus on achieving my dream. My sister’s nickname was Jeju and my Bakehouse is named after her.”
The first months of setting up Jeju’s Bakehouse have seen Ameena baking a range of delicious patisserie in her own kitchen and promoting her produce through word-of-mouth generated by her network of family and friends and on social media:
“It’s going really well. I’ve been super busy around special occasions like Christmas, Mother’s Day and Easter and I have more and more people coming to me for my cakes and pastries. But I really want to get back to baking bread, that’s my real love.”
To take her business to the next level, Ameena needed funds to invest in professional baking equipment and ongoing business advice. She’s secured both after applying for a grant and business mentoring from the charity The Prince’s Trust.
“Being awarded a grant from the Prince’s Trust is particularly significant for me. Jeju had special needs and me and my sisters helped care for her at home. As teenagers we all got support from a local Young Carers project run by the Prince’s Trust. And now this organisation is helping me to build up the business named after my sister. It feels like it was meant to be.”
Ameena still has a strong relationship with the School, saying:
“The staff and the people I studied with are still a big part of my life and my plans. They’re always available to ask for guidance and help. That kind of support is very comforting when you’re starting a small business as there are so many things I’m unsure about. Everything I learnt on the course gave me the confidence to put together my business plan and secure the grant, as well as teaching me how to create bread and patisserie that people love.”
“Running my own business is all about seeing what I can achieve by myself. When I was an illustrator I was working for other people helping to make their vision a reality. Now I’m working to make my own dreams come true. Seeing people eat and enjoy the produce I bake is so rewarding. It inspires me to go and do more.”
Inspired to set up your own artisan food business? Take a look at our range of food start-up business courses designed to take your business from wishful thinking to commercial reality.