Bustle UK has switched up its regular money series How I Made It Work, to better reflect the uncertain financial times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of women who've achieved financial stability discussing the lessons they've learnt, each piece focuses on a woman who has had her financial situation transformed by the outbreak in the UK. They'll share what their new working life looks like and how (if at all) they're making it work.
This time, HIMIW hears from 23-year-old Abigail Amankwa who runs wedding cake company M&H Cakes. After having all her bookings rescheduled because of the pandemic, Amankwa has completely switched up the way she runs her business. Read on to find out how she's making it work.
Occupation: Cake Decorator and Florist
What was your working life like before the COVID-19 outbreak?
It’s funny, as I make cakes, I spend a lot of my time in the supermarkets and then back in my kitchen to bake up a storm. I love to bake in the morning so I am up by 6 a.m., I slap on my apron, then head to the kitchen to work through my list of things to bake. While things are in the oven, I catch up with emails, social media, and make sure I post a couple of Insta stories — people love to see behind the scenes. Then I move onto decorating my wedding cakes which normally takes me the entire day.
How has the COVID-19 outbreak changed your working life?
I spend my time in supermarket queues now. Thankfully I buy a lot of my ingredients in bulk, but for dairy and eggs I have to factor in when and where I go, especially as there is a limit on the items you can purchase. Before the outbreak I solely did wedding cakes, so all but one of my weddings have been rescheduled to later this year or next year. Since the pandemic, I have started to sell cake tubs, which are tubs of cake posted to you or to someone else. It has been amazing to see my cake tubs go all over the UK. I never thought people would love them this much. The amount of happy messages I have been receiving has really made me smile. As I post them out to people, I spend my time either in the kitchen or in the post office.
How has the COVID-19 changed your financial situation?
In the wedding industry, it is very rare for couples to pay everything upfront. I was due to have all of my final payments paid in April this year and they’ve all be pushed closer the date of the couple’s weddings. This has made cash flow a little tighter, but I am grateful that they have been rescheduled and not cancelled.
How are you managing the change in financial circumstances?
The cake tubs I have started to sell have been doing incredibly well. They sell out in 30 mins and I constantly have to deal with DMs of disappointment. I have seen a triple in my Instagram profile visits, my website views have increased by 200%, so I guess people want cake! With that my finances have been stable, so far.
I would have never thought that adding an online cake shop would work this well.
What would help you feel more secure financially during the COVID-19 outbreak?
Bring back my weddings! Only joking, I would absolutely love to be making my wedding cakes and see my couples cut the biggest cakes of their lives, but safety comes first. So far I am feeling pretty secure.
How do you feel the outbreak will affect your working life more long term?
I think it has made me realise that there is another part of my business that people want to see more of. I would have never thought that adding an online cake shop would work this well. I’m currently brainstorming subscriptions services and gift boxes.
Do you think your experiences during the COVID-19 outbreak will change your approach to your business or working life?
The outbreak has made me more conscious of food waste. As there is a limit on what I can buy, it has really made me decrease the amount I waste. Naturally working in the food industry there is wastage, but I have started to compost way more and use my ingredients in more economic ways. As I am trying to limit the amount of time spent in the shops, I base my flavour menu on the ingredients I have already.
Do you think your experiences during the COVID-19 outbreak will have an impact on your relationship with money?
Yes, it has made me celebrate every penny that comes through and become more conscious of every penny that is spent. When you’ve been in business, you see money as fluid — always moving in and out of your account. However, this had made me slow down and appreciate what people spend on my business.