Zoe Hopkinson set up Zoe’s Fancy Cakes in January 2014 and the popularity of her cake designs on social media led to her being invited by two Australian cake firms to run masterclasses at their stores.
In addition to crafting cakes for special occasions such as weddings, birthdays and holidays, Ms Hopkinson also runs classes at her home in Horsforth.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Ms Hopkinson said: “We’re spending a week in Melbourne and a week in Sydney.”
Zoe’s Fancy Cakes was contacted by Duchess Cakes and Desserts after they spotted Ms Hopkinson’s work on Facebook. She then decided to contact another firm in Australia, Cake Decorating Solutions, who also asked if Ms Hopkinson would run some classes.
Ms Hopkinson runs the business alongside her partner Richard Eckles.
Mr Eckles, who only four weeks ago quit his job in banking to help his partner full-time with the cake business, said: “The cake market in Australia is absolutely huge compared to over here. It’s what we’d like it to be over here. It’s just massive over there.” While down under, Ms Hopkinson will be teaching classes of 10-12 people at a time. Her classes were booked out before it was even confirmed that she would be visiting Australia. “With me coming from England, I’m not there often. So they didn’t want to miss out,” says Ms Hopkinson.
Zoe’s Fancy Cakes’ popularity stems from YouTube. The business was set up by Zoe in January 2014, when she decided to take redundancy and follow her passion for cake decorating. Her brother Stephen came up with the suggestion of using YouTube to share tips with thousands of her fans.
But the vocation came as a coincidence. “I did fashion and marketing at university,” says Ms Hopkinson.
It was Mr Eckles mother “randomly” asking her to decorate a cake, that led to Zoe’s Fancy Cakes coming to fruition.
“His mum had baked a fruitcake already and she said to me ‘can you decorate it?’ I still don’t know why she ever asked because it wasn’t something that I’d ever done,” recalls Ms Hopkinson. She made a little figure playing the church organ. “It was a lot of money to buy all the equipment just to make this one figure,” Ms Hopkinson said.
In order to make the most of the equipment, she started making gifts for family and friends. Her colleagues at Department for Education, where she previously worked, caught scent of Ms Hopkinson’s baking exploits and the orders soon started coming in.
She said: “The proper orders really started coming from where I’d worked in the office. It was a part-time business before I left work and I was just doing it at evenings and weekends.”
In January 2014, Ms Hopkinson took voluntary redundancy to focus full-time on Zoe’s Fancy Cakes.
“It has been just manic for the last three years. It has just grown and grown,” says Ms Hopkinson.
Over the past year the duo have added Stephen Hopkinson, Zoe’s younger brother and Erica Baker, an old friend and long-time supporter of the business, to Zoe’s Fancy Cakes as full-time staff members.
Up to now Zoe’s Fancy Cakes has been run out of the home that Ms Hopkinson and Mr Eckles share.
But with increased demand for products and classes, the business is looking at putting in an offer for a premises on Town Street in Horsforth.
Decorated with awards
The popularity of Zoe’s Fancy Cakes’ classes has seen people travel from far and wide to learn how to decorate cakes.
The business has won several awards and will be exhibiting at some of the most prestigious cake shows in the country. Zoe Hopkinson said: “For me the next project is putting together a cake decorating book.”
She added that they are also looking to launch their own face moulds, making it easier for people to craft faces for their own cakes, even though she herself crafts faces by hand. “Some people aren’t confident in making their own and they’ll say ‘don’t you use a face mould?’”
For more information visit: http://zoesfancycakes.co.uk/