Merley-based baker and influencer Hannah Grist chats about starting her own home baking business, the role of social media in propelling sales, and her favourite white chocolate cheesecakes…
If anything positive can be taken from the cycle of recent lockdowns, then the rising trend of home baking would be high on the list. Lockdown has inspired budding bakers all over the country to raid their cupboards and dust off recipe books, with baking offering a much-needed respite from the doom and gloom currently clouding the globe.
This surge in home baking – which even resulted in a nationwide shortage of flour last year – has encouraged both beginner and veteran bakers alike to share their creations with the local community. As a result, home baking businesses have been thriving.
Among those eager to establish their own baking business is Hannah Grist, a nanny and cheesecake connoisseur from Merley. Though her home bakery, Hannah’s Bakes, only opened shop on New Year’s Day, business is already booming. Due to an influx of support received on social media for her bakes, Hannah decided to transform her passion into a business venture – and success has already begun trickling in. The official Facebook page is just a few digits away from surpassing 200 followers, while Hannah is a local influencer star; her public profile has amassed almost 1,500 followers.
Taking time out of catching up on orders, Hannah reveals how she utilises social media, the most rewarding part of baking, and offers some advice for fellow fledgling bakers and businesses…
HOW DID YOU GET INTO BAKING?
I’ve always loved baking from such a young age. I’m not 100% sure how I got into it; probably from watching my mum bake and then often making flapjacks or cupcakes when I would see my granny.
It’s always been a passion of mine. Something I find therapeutic – when it goes well! I love seeing the finished result.
HOW DID YOU DECIDE TO SPECIALISE IN CHEESECAKES?
In the last year or two, I’ve been really into making cheesecakes. I came across a site which had lots of different recipes. I found lots of cheesecake ones, so I gave it a go for no reason other than enjoyment and it went swimmingly. From there, I’ve often made them for occasions, such as family and friends’ birthdays.
Once I realised it was pretty simple, and that there are so many variations you can make, it inspired me to create all different flavours. I think I’d seen people post cheesecakes they had done and I thought, “I can do that!” And obviously had to try myself.
I just love the response I get from family and friends when they try them.
WHEN DID YOU START HANNAH’S BAKES? HOW IS BUSINESS GOING SO FAR?
I’ve only been live since 1st January this year! So I’m a baby in the baking business.
It’s going great! I’m loving my logo and I’m kitted out with stickers and boxes. So far, it’s been a success and I’ve had lots of support from people local and afar. My “day job” is a nanny, which I’m lucky enough to still be working, so this was an extra for me.
I’m lucky enough to have a few contacts through nannying so I’ve had orders from them, as well as from sharing my page onto local business groups. I’ve had a great response as well as organic orders from those. So I’m super happy.
WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO START HANNAH’S BAKES?
In lockdown, I decided to set up my own business because I’d get a lot of comments on social media. I’d post my creations on Facebook, which would get a huge response in terms of likes and comments. People said I should do it as a business. So I looked into what I’d need to do and went from there.
I created the hashtag #Hannahsbakes — so every time I posted something I’d made I’d put the hashtag with it, which seems to have stuck with my name and logo.
YOU’RE BASED IN MERLEY – WHERE DO YOU DELIVER TO?
To be honest, ideally I prefer collection. But I’m happy to deliver to local areas, including Bournemouth, Christchurch, and up to a 10-mile radius generally.
CAN YOU SEE YOURSELF CONTINUING HANNAH’S BAKES AS A BUSINESS AFTER LOCKDOWN ENDS? WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS?
Definitely yes! This is just the beginning. I know I focus on cheesecakes at the moment, but I’ll also be doing other bakes as well. Mini cheesecakes, cookies, and so on.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BAKE SO FAR?
That’s a hard decision. As the cheesecakes have been more recent, I would have to say two: the white Terry’s chocolate orange cheesecake, and the white chocolate and strawberry cheesecake. But it’s so hard to choose, I love them all!
WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING PART OF BAKING FOR YOU?
Most definitely the most rewarding part is seeing the look on people’s faces when presented with my cheesecakes or other bakes, and the response I get from them on the look of them. Especially when they say how amazing they taste. Extremely rewarding. I feel proud of myself for what I’ve created.
WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR ASPIRING BAKERS AND BUSINESSES?
I would say go for it! What have you got to lose? If it’s something you enjoy and feel it would work for you, then just do it. Just make sure you have people who can support you in your journey and share your work.
To place an order and check out more of Hannah’s mouth-watering bakes, follow Hannah’s Bakes on Facebook. For more local Catering and Hospitality stories, click here. Also, don’t forget to follow HQB News on our socials: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.