Here we are with a business that I wanted to introduce to you such a long time ago – Miss Apple’s Sweets. I still remember when I tried Karen Apple’s sweets for the first time, they were the famous brigadeiros – a Brazilian favourite that everyone should try someday. Simply delicious to say the least.
Miss Apple’s Sweets ventures now in baking Vegan bite-size cupcakes. “Birmingham’s tiniest ones”, Karen says. A successful business that is also proof that vegan cakes are tasty and more popular than ever. Let’s check it!
Midlands Traveller: Tell me a little bit about your background in business.
Karen Apple: I don’t really have a huge background in business. I graduated in Graphic Design in Brazil, but soon after starting to work as a Designer, I realised it wasn’t for me.
My first contact with a baking business environment was when I worked at a cupcake bakery in Poland in 2011.
I learned a lot there and simply loved the job. Then when I set roots in the UK, I decided to finally go for my own part-time (non-vegan at that time) home business, but I was making only celebration cakes. In the meantime, I also had a day job.
All I’ve learned about running a small business was through research and networking. And I still have a lot to learn.
In September 2018 I went back to college to learn to account. And this year I finally quit my other job to fully dedicate myself to Miss Apple’s Sweets.
MT: When did you first start to be interested in confectionery and baking?
KA: I’ve always had a sweet tooth. I don’t think I know a Brazilian who doesn’t. But I became actually more interested in confectionery and baking about 10 years ago while living in the United States.
I took some cake decorating classes at a crafts store and from that moment I knew that’s what I really wanted to do because I felt confident doing it and enjoyed it.
MT: How did you come up with the idea of a business like yours?
KA: The idea was always to work doing what I love (who doesn’t want to do that, right?). But since I was a child I’ve loved miniatures.
I used to make miniature origami zoos at school, city maquettes for school projects and played with little dolls and their tiny accessories, clothes, and doll’s house utensils.
I’ve had hobbies making polymer clay miniatures and little things made with resin. Then as I mentioned, in 2009 I found my new passion for baking, but only this year, I decide to put all of these together and came up with the idea of the miniature cupcakes.
MT: Tell me about Miss Apple’s Sweets products and services.
KA: I am focused mainly on bite-size cupcakes at the moment. They look so pretty on a dessert table or on a cupcake tower at a Wedding or as a baby shower favour. I can customise them with cupcake toppers even if they’re so small.
I offer a variety of flavours such as chocolate, vanilla, lemon, red velvet, orange, carrot, blueberry, strawberry, Oreo, peanut butter, and many more. I love the versatility of cupcakes.
Because I made many celebration cakes in the past, I am open to celebration cake requests as well, vegan of course.
MT: What is unique about your business?
KA: I call Miss Apple’s Sweets a mini bakery. All my cupcakes are bite-size. They are Birmingham’s tiniest cupcakes! They are smaller than the “regular” mini cupcakes, so they are pretty and tiny.
You just pop them in your mouth with no guilt whatsoever. Also, because they are that small, you can try a variety of flavours, just like you would with a truffle or a candy. If it was a regular-size cupcake, you would normally eat just one.
And more, despite their size, they are super moist and full of flavour. I make them using real fruits and good quality ingredients and no artificial flavour. There is a lot of love involved in the creation of my miniature cupcakes.
MT: What is your kind of clientele?
KA: Basically anyone (vegans and non-vegans) who wants a little treat for dessert, afternoon tea, or a bigger event, such as birthdays, weddings, and corporate events.
Children are huge fans as well. Their eyes shine when they see that they are so cute and small. My unicorn cupcakes are a big hit among them.
MT: What are the challenges of a business like yours?
KA: I think the biggest challenge is to advertise my business as a vegan to non-vegans. Obviously, I want to reach the vegan community too.
But this is somehow “sorted” as vegans normally ask if they are or if I’m selling at a vegan event. However, I would like to reach everyone, to show people that vegan food can be delicious and beautiful too.
I’ve had people almost buying my cupcakes, but then I said ”Oh and they’re vegan! Isn’t it great?”.Then they backed off and said “Oh no! I like meat!” and walk away with empty hands.
I mean, there is no meat in non-vegan cupcakes, right? It’s just sad some won’t even give it a try. People are still scared to try them and sometimes it is difficult to know when to mention they are vegan or even mention it at all.
Another challenge is that as a small business owner just starting, you have to be everything in your company. You’re not only the founder and baker but the designer, the marketing team, the accountant, the delivery person, the cleaning staff, the customer service, etc.
MT: Why choose a vegan cupcake?
KA: It is actually part of a personal journey. I’ve been meaning to become vegan for quite a while now and I actually was for 6 months in 2017. I cut all animal products overnight, then “fell off the wagon” and felt really guilty.
Then I decided to take things slowly and became a vegetarian.
And my business is my goal, it is me. I put a lot of love into it. So, I’ve chosen vegan cupcakes to help me push through this transition and at the same time, break this barrier that people have with veganism. Veganism is love, not modism.
MT: What advice would you give to someone thinking about having a business like yours?
KA: I would say you have to be passionate about what you do. I’ve heard this many times and it is true. You are your business, so if you have a passion for it, it’s a great start. Also, you have to be professional.
It takes months to perfect a recipe and create flavours, designs, etc. You can’t just wake up and say “I’m going to bake vegan cakes because veganism is trendy now. I’ll just get a recipe on google and go sell them”.
It is important to invest in training and testing your products. This way you can deliver the best for your customers.
MT: How are social media important to the success of your business?
KA: Very important! You can easily post an ad on one platform and with another click, you share it with many more.
It is much easier to advertise with social media these days. And almost for free! Also, you get to know a lot of like-minded business owners and get in touch practically instantly with your customers.
MT: What are the next steps for Miss Apple’s Sweets?
KA: The next steps would be to expand my clientele and maybe wholesale to coffee shops. I would love to have a shop in the future, but I’m also a mum of a 4-year-old, and spending time with him is extremely important.
I plan many other products for the future and I want to introduce some of the Brazilian flavours. We, Brazilians, make amazing things the world must-see.
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