Cake Craft Queens
This is the article the Sutton Coldfield Observer published about us in 2012 !!!!
For this dynamic Sutton Coldfield duo, the business of teaching is a passion
How many of us return home each night from our regular nine to five lives feeling there has to be
something more with days in the office spent day dreaming about burning that one thing were truly
passionate about into a viable business.
Sutton Coldfiled duo Diana Everex and Jo Howell have done just that . And their passion ? Cake .With
demanding jobs – Diana was a Detective Inspector in the Police Force before taking early retirement at the
end of March , while Jo still works full time at the moment in the public sector – and family commitments ,
setting up a business was no mean feat. But when the threat of redundancy came looming large , the duo
decided it was time to put their dream plan into action.
“With the amount of redundancies in the public sector – and with me coming up to retirement – we wanted a
plan B” explains Diana.
“We both love sugar craft and baking , and its something we both went to college to learn about when our
children were small , but then it was just for fun, and so we could make our kids birthday cakes .
” and the Police Force is a very male dominated , so cake has always been my girly, creative outlet. ”
As a qualified sugar craft trainers , classically trained in the art of sugar craft and cake decorating at the
renowned Birmingham College of Food , Diana and Jo were keen to share their skills with others rather
than make cakes themselves . And with the rise in popularity in baking and cake decorating , thanks in part
to programmes like the Great British Bake Off , the duo saw a gap in the market which they felt they could
fill perfectly .
” People were looking for somewhere to go to learn sugar craft / cake decorating and the only real option
previously was 12 weeks in a draughty church hall ” says Diana.
“As trainers , we are looking at the learning process and stripped it all down to what you really need to do
with a trainer, the really technical stuff. Nowaday there’s the Internet and there are magazines which are
great learning tools, so we found that what you really need to do on hand with a trainer can be condensed
into one day, like an experience day . All the equipment is provided and you get to enjoy a lovely lunch too
With that Ethos in mind Diana and Jo set up the Buttercream and Bows Training Academy in 2011 and
haven’t looked back.
” We have brought the learning process into the 21 st Century – our classes are like an experience day , but
what we teach in that one day gives you all the technical knowledge you need to progress, ” says Diana.
Buttercream and Bows run a regular series of cake making and decorating classes in the Midlands .
From introduction to cake decorating and sugar craft to the more specific courses which teach the
processes behind creating cake works of art such as the fairy tale castle, classic two tier English Rose
creation or even a wonky Cherry Sundae cake, even a Four Tier Wedding Cake Class in just one day there
is something to suit all abilities.
The duo’s most popular course is their Cup Cake Master Class, which covers the art of baking , sugar craft,
the art of buttercream piping and decoration.
“It’s the one class which we don’t even have to advertise , it just fills up ” says Jo .
” I think people find cup cakes less intimidating , people feel like its manageable , and from there they can
build on their skills , and move onto one of the more advanced courses like our beautiful fairy tale castle
course or the handbag cake course.
” we have ladies and gents who have been along to our courses and have now set up there own
businesses , which is compliment for us ” adds Jo .
They have learnt something from us which they can apply and make a living out of ”
” we want people to come to us to learn the skills they need to go off on their own . We are here to
empower our students especially in an uncertain economic climate many of our students want to start a
cake business from home whilst still working .
And for students looking to branch out into cake making as a new business venture , Diana and Jo run the
Cake Boss Class, where they can share the pitfalls of their last three years amongst other valuable learning
” we teach them all the aspects of cake making as a business , for how to do a wedding consultation to tax
implications ” explains Diana
One previous student of the Setting up your own Cake Business Class , Victoria Patterson – Burke said
about this class
“The Cake Boss course exceeded my expectations! As a new Mum having to consider returning to work is
such a daunting thought. Diana and Jo helped me to realise my goal and explained the means and
methods of how to make it come to life, I can be my own boss doing something I love. At the end of the
workshop I felt both inspired and empowered! I would strongly recommend this course. Thank you ladies”
” even something as fundamental as how much to charge for a cake – it’s not as simple as thinking ‘ how
much are my ingredients and what’s my profit margin ? You have to think about your overheads – electric
bills and so on , how many hours you want to work and how much you need to make in that time for a
viable business ” .
But many of our students come along for creative therapy , or just for fun . Taking a class has even become
popular hen party choice for brides to be who want to do something different .
” it’s doing something different with your hands and being very creative , which can be really therapeutic –
we call it Lego for adults” laughs Diana.
As trainers , its the best of both worlds , ” adds Jo , it’s a creative outlet and we get a kick out of teaching
people a new skill.”
Many of the course attendees are regulars , having worked their way through a number of Buttercream &
Bows Classes something which delights Jo and Diana.
Until now the duo have been juggling the business with their demanding jobs and family commitments ,
although Diana took early retirement due to health reasons .
I have ME and have been very ill and at sometimes bed ridden , which has meant that Jo has had to
shoulder a lot of responsibility with starting the business ” explains Diana .
” it’s been a lot of hard work but the great thing now is that our team is growing ” says Jo . ” we have just
taken on some new members of the team , which means we can offer a lot more variety in the classes that
we do and have more flexibilty because we train all our staff up to the level that we work at .
Despite only setting up the business in 2011 Diana and Jo have accomplished so much . They have been
used by Dr Oetker in their product development and they are approved training provider for the department
of work and pensions and an approved training provider for Jaguar Land Rover employee learning scheme
Giving back to the local community is also important part of their business plan – they nominate a local
charity each year to support as well as Macmillian Cancer Support. They have also taken ‘girl
empowerment a bit further and have sponsored a local girls football team.
” Above all we are best friends before business partners ,And work so well together ” says Diana .
” it was a really easy decision for us ” adds Jo, ” although its hard work , it’s a pleasure”