Mum of two Jess Keen from Kumeu, West Auckland, is living the dream working from home creating amazing cakes, cupcakes and cookies through her business Hey Sugar.
For a lot of us, the idea of running our own business whilst being a mum to young children falls somewhere between “living the dream” and “complete chaos”! However, Jess from Hey Sugar has not only stepped into the entrepreneurial world, she’s also creating some pretty spectacular celebration cakes. She specialises in making cakes for children’s birthdays, baby showers, and various celebrations.
Jess tells her story
I’ve been making cakes for over six years now. It started off as a passion for baking cupcakes. I loved spending hours baking and decorating cupcakes for friends and family birthdays. Close friends soon started asking if I would sell them, so I did to make a little bit of money on the side but mostly because I loved creating little handmade toppers for cupcakes and decorating them to suit a theme.
I always got asked if I made cakes and the answer was always, no! I thought it would be too much stress and pressure to make cakes – what if they went wrong or what if they didn’t like them?! So I stayed in my cupcake lane for a while until my best friend got engaged and asked me to make their engagement cake!
The first cake of many
I was very nervous as I’d never decorated a proper cake in ganache and fondant before, let alone a two- tiered cake that had to make it down to Ngatea where the engagement party was. I spent hours and hours watching tutorials on YouTube to learn all the tricks and techniques and brought the tools that I needed to make the cake I had in mind – a white & yellow ruffle cake with bunting flags on top.
The day came to make the cake and I think I spent about six hours decorating it after work. When my husband came home and saw the state of the kitchen he was like – wow! I had done it and I had done it pretty damn well for my first cake. We took it to the engagement party and everyone loved it. I ended up getting asked to make another one in a few weeks’ time … so then I started making cakes!
Hey Sugar is born … and Lola too
Hey Sugar quickly grew, and I set up a Facebook page and website. I rented a commercial kitchen from a family friend in which I would go to after my full time job and I would make cakes in the evenings. I spent hours at home each night hand making fondant decorations for cakes. Then come Thursday and Friday nights I would be creating cakes in the kitchen for orders to be picked up for parties on the weekend.
I did this for a year and a half, then realised it wasn’t possible for me to continue working full time and ‘cake’ as the demand was too much. I decided to put Hey Sugar to rest for a wee while as I knew we would have a family soon.
I continued to make the odd cake for family or friends birthdays and in 2016 the arrival of our first daughter, Lola, came in November. We were living on the North Shore of Auckland in a small three bedroom house and soon realised that having a baby means you need a lot of stuff! So we made a plan to move and build our dream home in a new sub division in Kumeu. We sold our house and moved in with my parents for what we were told would be eight months until our house was built. Anyone who has built a house before knows that delays are inevitable (something we didn’t know!) and we ended up living with my parents for almost two and a half years!
View this post on Instagram
View this post on Instagram
Baby number two
Our second daughter Zoe was born in August 2018 completing our family perfectly. We finally got to move into our house in May 2019 and we designed it so that I have a second kitchen with a separate oven, sink and fridge to get registered with the council to make cakes to sell to the public.
I was still working my full time job in Birkenhead commuting for a 7am start and it was taking its toll. I would be out the door before the girls got up so it was hard not seeing them before I went to work. We decided that I’d take the leap and quit my job to do Hey Sugar full time at the end of July.
Being a mum and running a business can be stressful and a total juggling act at times, but I’m lucky I have a wonderful husband that helps out a lot and the girls enjoy going to daycare close to home. Not having to spend hours in the car each day and getting to plan my days my way are great. But the best thing is being able to create things that I love everyday and seeing the looks on my client’s faces when they receive their goods. It’s the best!
For custom made treats for occasions worth celebrating, visit HeySugarNZ.com.
Give your celebration the WOW factor that is sure to impress with taste to match. Using the freshest ingredients, free range eggs and quality brands, Hey Sugar are sure you won’t be disappointed.