Meet baker extraordinaire Stroma Sinclair. I can’t scroll through her Instagram without major sugar cravings or happy memories; Stroma is the mastermind between the delicious naked cake Jorge and I had at our wedding two years ago. Here’s a photo:
As you can see from her profile photo, she also has a brilliantly fun-loving personality. That shows through in her colourful, playful cakes too. Below, she talks about some of the challenges she had when she was first starting out and how her business has grown, the importance of continuing to learn new skills and her goals for the future.
Little Observationist: Give us your tweet-sized elevator pitch. What’s your business all about?
Stroma Sinclair: One girl, slowly conquering cake scene with tasty flavours and fun designs.
LO: Now tell us more: What sets you apart from your competition?
SS: London has become a very competitive cake scene so it can be difficult to stand out, but I love working with people to create bespoke designs where I get to flex my creativity and experiment with new techniques. I’m always striving to improve and put a whole load of love into all my creations. What more can you ask for?!
LO: Share a bit of background on yourself and your business.
SS: Stromabakes has been a slow builder. It started as a hobby, then it was supplying one cafe, then I would get orders from friends. It started to take up more of my time, so it becomes a part-time job. Now, four years later, it’s a full-time occupation which is terrifying, but delightful. I have had to put a lot of time, stress and passion into getting this far, but I feel very proud of myself!
LO: Which social media platforms do you use for your business? Has this been time well invested? Any tips for newcomers?
SS: Honestly, I am pretty rubbish with the social media side of things. A lot of my business comes through word of mouth, chatting with the right people in the right places. But my main platform is Instagram as with cake it is always good to have a visual. Although if there was a way to taste through social media, that would bring in a whole load of business!
LO: What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve been given that still resonates with you today? And your favourite resources for small business?
SS: I think it’s all about experience; never assume you know it all. You can always learn new skills, and learn from other people. Research is my favourite thing in the food industry. Walk round any part of London and stumble on a small business doing their own little thing.
LO: What have been your biggest challenges and greatest rewards as a small business owner?
SS: A challenge for me was building confidence in my product. You are able to sell and market yourself, but that comes with time. A lot of determination is needed not to give it all up if I am having a slow month, making mistakes and have zero cash! But then, when I look back on the past four years and I realize how much I’ve achieved, I feel pretty chuffed!
LO: What are your hopes for your business going forward: what would you most love to achieve as a short-term goal? And long term?
SS: Future goals? Keep learning, building, get out of my home kitchen. Reach full cake capacity, so I can burst into having a bakery/cafe that can give me more excitement and new challenges.
LO: Little Observationist is all about appreciating life’s little luxuries. Name three you’ve enjoyed recently.
SS: Elderflower cocktails, my new summer culottes, and the strawberry ice cream I had for breakfast.