The Vanilla Pod Bakery

5th August 2016

Founder: Pia Cato

Pia Cato transformed her early business adversity into an opportunity for a second business. By moving her first business – a bespoke wedding cake business back into her home, she learned the lessons that would later inspire her to found Make Money with Cakes, a catering business consultancy.

A life-long passion for baking inspired Pia Cato to start the Vanilla Pod Bakery in 2009. “Baking was always part of my childhood”, she says, “I would speak to an imaginary camera crew and pretend to be Delia Smith”. Whilst her culinary skills may not have landed her a spot on our TV screens just yet, they did allow her to set up her own bakery. Based in Cheltenham, the Vanilla Pod Bakery specialises in luxury bespoke cakes for weddings and cup cake classes where you can learn how to decorate exquisite cupcakes.

Pia began her home business journey as an undergraduate student after she won a business planning competition held by her university. Just nine months later, the bakery she founded at her home had experienced such positive growth that she decided to move operations into a rented industrial kitchen.

However, the move did not turn out as she had hoped, “The move presented many financial challenges, exacerbated by a bad summer and my website going down”, she says, “While the move certainly created fresh opportunities, it was certainly a difficult time.”

Pia is passionate about using her experiences to help others

After three years, she decided to move the business back into her home kitchen. It is a choice that she describes as giving her business “a new lease of life”. She re-configured her business plan, and focussed her culinary eye on what she enjoyed the most – creating personalised wedding cakes. As well as a renewed focus, the move back home allowed her to build Vanilla Pod into “a completely different business that was not just profitable but also far more sustainable”.

A young veteran of the challenges that the business world can throw at you, Pia is passionate about using her experiences to help others. She set up ‘Make Money With Cakes’ in 2015 and describes it as a business that “does what it says on the tin.” The consultancy provides “one-to-one training and mentoring to enable people to have a successful cake business”. Having gone through adversity herself, Pia is ideally placed to encourage others to keep going and build sustainable businesses.

Home business success rests on their owners laying the right foundations

Pia says that home business success “rests on their owners laying the right foundations.” She cites organisation and setting goals as key to commercial success, alongside writing “a sound business plan to keep you on the straight and narrow so you can tick off points each day, and that way you don’t get distracted by the washing up at home”.

Pia is no stranger to ups and downs and it is no surprise that her life motto is “just take it one step at a time”. Having gone through adversity and emerged the other side she says, “it may take you a different route but you will always get to your goal eventually if you work hard enough”.

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