The Bake Lab in Sheffield creates bespoke celebration cakes and baked goods for local people and businesses. It was set up in 2016 by Sara Percevicius who graduated from The School of Artisan Food with an Advanced Diploma in Artisan Baking five years ago.
“I’d always enjoyed baking as a hobby, but it wasn’t until I started making my own bread that I thought seriously about learning to bake professionally. My degree was in property surveying, but I quickly realised I didn’t want to do that for a career and found myself aged 24 working in boring office jobs. It was my partner Richard who encouraged me to make a change and do something that would make me happy.
“When I applied for the Advanced Diploma I didn’t have a grand plan for my future, I just wanted to learn more about artisan baking and get some new skills. But by the end of the course I knew I wanted to run my own bakery. I found the business classes run by Yvonne O’Donovan so helpful. She’s very good at planting the seeds that turn into original ideas for your own business. The work placements the School organised were great. I still use the ideas and experience I picked up during my placements in my baking now.”
“I loved my time at the School. It’s a joy to be taught about baking by someone as knowledgeable as Wayne Caddy. The hands-on classes were amazing but what sets the Diploma apart is that the practical experience is paired with in-depth learning about the science of baking. In the baking world that’s a real skill and not everyone in the industry has that level of understanding. Everything I learnt there gave me the foundations I needed to become a much more creative baker.”
After graduation Sara took a job at Forge Bakehouse in Sheffield, working there for three years:
“I wanted to learn more before setting up on my own. I loved working at Forge as I got a real variety of experience, making bread, working as a pastry chef and serving in the shop. It was a real team effort and I learnt so much.”
In 2016 Sara decided it was time to set up The Bake Lab, working from her kitchen at home:
“I started out selling at local farmers’ markets which helped me build a customer base and grow my brand. Now I also supply cakes and traybakes wholesale to two cafes and run a growing wedding cake business. My wedding cakes offer an alternative to the traditional style and I’m getting more orders every year.
“The biggest challenge has been getting my product out there and in front of the right people, but through word of mouth, social media and basically saying yes to everything I feel like I’m getting there. I love working for myself, it’s given me the time and space to be creative with my baking and to do my own thing.”
“My time at the School definitely gave me the skills and confidence I needed to thrive in this industry. The School is well respected in the baking world, it has a certain gravitas. People know if you’ve studied for the Diploma you’ll leave with the knowledge and skills to succeed.”
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.