Cake gate: Bakery owner says ‘real newsworthy story’ has been missed
Rebecca Severs, owner of Three Little Birds Bakery in Keighley, received thousands of messages of support when she revealed she had refused the request from a “poor celebrity” who “apparently can't afford to pay people for their products and services”.
It came after PR firm asked her to make two cakes and 100 cup cakes for Coronation Street star Catherine Tyldesley’s 40th birthday in Manchester, in exchange for “promotion” on social media.
Her response, which went viral after she posted it on social media, said: “Unfortunately, as my mortgage provider doesn’t take payment ‘in the form of promotion on their socials’, and my staff can’t feed their kids with exposure on Instagram, I’ll have to decline your very generous offer.”
But Ms Severs said she was surprised the story was covered by a wide range of newspapers and online publications as it is “not really news”.
“It's totally surreal and it will surely blow over soon. But what I hope doesn't blow over is the real newsworthy story: the very real daily struggle not just small business, but most of the country, are facing, and why the request we received hit such a nerve as a result,” she wrote in a blog post.
The baker said small business owners are “overwhelmingly in agreement that this kind of request is detrimental to their businesses” especially when many are struggling to pay their bills and afford luxuries such as birthday cakes.
“The impact isn't just financial,” she said. “Pricing correctly in a small business is very difficult. I know personally at least two sole traders who are afraid to work out their costs because they know they are undercharging.
“Many do not even pay themselves minimum wage, let alone a wage that reflects their skill level. People constantly complain about prices when you work for yourself – because there's an actual human who's there to hear it, as opposed to a faceless corporation.
“Every quote that's knocked back, every comment that's made, every time you press the delete button and write a lower number in there - that all adds up to a lot of emotional baggage.
“So when someone slides into your DMs asking for something for ‘free’ – for a lot of us our immediate gut reaction might be – ‘oh, so we aren't worth it. We aren't worth what we're charging, so how could we possibly ever charge more. People don't value us. I don't value me’.
“And so the cycle continues. And actually, this deepens the financial impact even more, ultimately.”
Ms Severs, who worked as an editor in legal publishing before setting up the bakery, also highlighted Government figures which show 2,552 companies filed for insolvency in May.
The Government said that figure is 40 per cent higher than in the same month in the previous year and “higher than pre-pandemic numbers”.
Last week Ms Tyldesley, who played Eva Price on ITV series Coronation Street, confirmed the birthday party is for her but said she had “no idea” anyone had requested free cakes.