Reprint of blog featured on Parentville Parties
Parentville Parties meets Celia the founder of Bluebell Biscuiterie. Bluebell Biscuiterie specialises in beautiful, personal and unique biscuits, handmade to order. Today, Celia shares how she got started and her tips to running a successful creative business. Prepare to be inspired.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I'm Celia, (Mrs Smith) and I live just outside Henley on Thames with my husband, Paul and our 10 year old daughter, Madeline. I spent almost 20 years working in various corporate communications roles for a global soft drinks company and before that for a UK food retailer. I set up Bluebell Biscuiterie about three years ago. We make beautiful, personal and unique biscuits. You can't just buy our biscuits off the website - we take a brief and create something bespoke just for you. I love that the business combines art and baking! I often get asked where the name came from. Well I just love bluebells. My childhood home backed onto beautiful bluebell woods. I love their intense indigo colour and distinctive fresh smell. You have to make the most of them as they last for such a short time (a bit like our biscuits actually!)
What inspired your concept/idea for your business? It was a complete accident. I was a new mum with a long commute and I gave up work with absolutely no plan except to enjoy motherhood. A dear friend sent me a cute edible iced biscuit birthday card which gave me the basics of an idea and it just grew from there. I started messing about in the kitchen at home making iced biscuits for friends and family and then things just went crazy. My background in the food and drink industry was invaluable. I'd always been quite creative and loved baking but that passion had been stifled for quite a few years. When starting, did you have challenges and how did you overcome these? My problem is I'm too much of a perfectionist - and when things go wrong (and they do sometimes) I take it v v v personally!!! We listen to a lot of podcasts in the Biscuiterie while baking and icing. The Elizabeth Day's 'How to Fail' podcast is brilliant. Having the confidence to charge what bespoke hand iced biscuits are worth is definitely a challenge. Some see them just as a biscuit. We see them as little works of art (and so do our best customers). The joy they give to those who receive them is worth every penny and makes us very happy when we get lovely feedback. What has been your biggest success so far? Well its actually something I can't share details of. It was a biscuit commission from a very high profile couple for a private event this summer ... sorry but my lips are sealed. But more generally it's the satisfaction of growing a successful niche business (and winning bespoke commissions over the bigger players too!)
How do you juggle motherhood/personal life/family life and your business? I've got an amazing husband who is a huge support - great with business advice, doing the school run and biscuit quality control! (yes he did just dictate that but I have to say I do agree!) but our daughter is a huge support too. She loves the business, is super proud of me and is actually getting very good at icing herself - my little apprentice! How do you find time to relax while not working? Do you impose business/screen free time? Running Bluebell Biscuiterie really doesn't feel like work but I go to the gym most days and I do love getting into a good TV box set. I love going out to lunch with girlfriends but it really doesn't happen enough. I'm not a big drinker but love a perfectly made G&T or glass of champagne. I'm hopeless with screens - always scrolling - so no I don't impose screen free time. Everything is done on screens isn't it - booking gym classes, supermarket shopping and school admin as well as running the business. What are your top tip/tips for starting a small business? Easy! Do something you love - otherwise its a chore ... and always say 'yes' and work out how to do it later. If you could invite a special guest to an event/party/dinner party who would it be?
Oh I couldn't possibly pick just one special guest! Graham Norton - he's so quick witted; Audrey Hepburn for her grace, elegance and old school glamour; Olivia Colman - she's hilarious; Claudia Winkleman - she's also hilarious!; Phoebe Waller-Bridge - please be my friend Phoebe; Idris Elba - no explanation needed ... oh and Mary Berry - baking legend.