Monday, 23 September 2013

A change in perspective

Hello webby world,
The original and lovely Cake Box
I think most of you know I am a baker. My business's name is Cake Box, and come January I will have been trading under that name for 5 years. (I also had a blog called Cake Boxing but I'm not keeping that one up to date at  the moment). My business is small, but I have built up a very good reputation over those years.  I do not advertise and all of my work has been through recommendation. I am immensely proud of my reputation and work hard to sustain it.

Have a look at some of the things I've done - cupcakes, slices, celebration cakes (The one below was for a Beatles fan's birthday), Malteser cake (a fancy one for a special event) and a torte. I make all my own decorations and have FIRM views about how important good ingredients are.

Over the past week I discovered that a new cake shop is opening a few miles down the road. It is called Cake Box.

Upon investigation, it's a franchise called Eggless Cake Box, but the 'eggless' bit is in TINY type. I work in Roundhay; it's on Roundhay Road. They aren't open yet but I've already had some confused customers ring and email. And if people looking for them find me, people looking for me will find them. I have no doubt people who have been told that Cake Box, Roundhay makes lovely cakes will think the shop called Cake Box on the main route to the city centre (Roundhay Road) will be the one.

We have a different core clientèle with some overlap. They are aimed at the Sikh and Hindu community, and others that don't want eggs in their cakes. My customers are the people of my North Leeds community willing to pay more than supermarket prices for high quality ingredients and cakes, which does include a number of people wanting egg free cakes.

I was so upset. My branding, stickers, ingredient labels, business cards, email and domain name are all Cake Box. I can't easily change them - or at least not without a sizable cost. And inconvenience. Having been careful at the time I chose my trading name that there was no chance of confusion with other businesses in the area I was inwardly shouting 'It's not fair!'when another business didn't care about doing the same. And how do I preserve my reputation for lovely home made cakes when something using the same name is advertising "cakes while you wait?"

Anyway, I felt so sad and defeated about it all.

Then I popped to the supermarket. There at the entrance was someone collecting for St George's Crypt, the homeless charity in Leeds.  They had something that looked like a book of raffle tickets but wasn't. The volunteer explained to me that it was a book of vouchers for £5. Instead of giving people begging a coin or two, i you could give them one of the 5 vouchers and they could exchange it for a hot shower and cooked meal at one of the 4 centres around the city. Isn't it a brilliant idea? Everything looks brighter when you are warm, clean and fed. If a paltry quid can get that for someone who needed it, that's an absolute steal. 

I don't believe that telling someone "other people have it worse" is helpful. It's like telling a happy person that someone has it even better than they - so what?  But I was slipping into self pity and it did me good to be jolted out my inward focus. A disappointing and crappy thing happened to my business and I was only seeing problems rather than solutions. Generally I try to shake off those negative thoughts that I cannot  do anything about but I was dwelling on it. And, if I'm honest, sulking. I felt hard done by. 

Yes, my fiver bought meals and showers for people who might need it. But it also bought me a little sense of perspective. Bargain.


  1. That's crap that someone else has nicked your name, but I'm sure that with your superior coding skills you can make sure you stay top of the Google search!
    Do you have any lawyer friends who can send a "cease & desist" letter?

  2. Dear Jay, I'm so sorry about Cake Box - I did wonder whether you could get a little stamp or some tiny stickers that say (in a beautiful font) "Jay's", as in "Jay's Cake Box" - kind of to retrofit your current branding and make it clear who you are.

    Very interesting about the vouchers - I'm in Leeds every Friday attending lectures and inevitably I pass homeless people - got heckled today for not sharing my (small) slice of pizza that was passing for a snatched lunch as I dashed to my afternoon session. Will have to look out for them.