This week in my series of interviews with independent business owners, we meet Heidi Wall from Boutique Brownies.  She built her brownie gifting business out of her love of chocolate, works hard to make sure things are done correctly and enjoys the satisfaction of pleasing her customers.

As fun as baking is, and as delicious as chocolate can be, Heidi is fully aware of the need to spend time away from the kitchen to manage the other elements of the business.  She talks of the need to develop her skills in other areas such as marketing –  particularly around managing her website, writing newsletters and running social media campaigns.

Boutique Brownies

Website www.boutiquebrownies.co.uk

Mobile 0771 774 3414

Facebook @BoutiqueBrownies

Twitter @BtiqueBrownies

Instagram @BoutiqueBrownies

How do you describe your business to your friends?

I bake delicious chocolate brownies, beautifully wrapped for a lovely gift to give to a friend or client.

 

Where are you located?

 

In Chelmsford, Essex

 

How long have you had your business and what inspired you to start it?

I started the business in October 2016.  I had a lightbulb moment when I realised I could  combine my lifelong love of chocolate with my favourite pastime of baking!

 

What problem do you solve for your customers?

For those birthdays or ‘thank you’ moments when you want something original, or when you’re buying for that person that has everything, I provide delicious chocolate brownies packaged as a lovely gift, with a personal message included, and sent directly to the recipient’s door.

 

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Firstly, being able to bake so often.

Secondly it’s seeing the support of my family and friends in helping me to create a successful business.

Thirdly it’s when someone tells me how much they love my brownies and how they’re the best they’ve tasted!

 

What’s the biggest frustration with working for yourself?

There are so many facets to being a business owner that it is frustrating when you don’t always know what you need to know!  For example, I’m trying to teach myself WordPress so I can update my website but it is a challenge as I don’t have a tech background.  Things don’t always work in the way you expect them to!

So I look out for courses if it’s appropriate or I’ll ask family and friends what they think.  I also belong to a business community which is really supportive with excellent resources for things like learning to optimise newsletters and much more.

 

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on improving my social media and also some new brownie ideas.

With my social media I’m looking to improve consistency and post on a regular basis using a proper plan and strategy. Until now I’ve had a loose plan but I’ve found it’s not so helpful in practice as it’s too broad so I’m just starting to write a detailed plan for the autumn now.

I like to know about things before I do them so I’ll spend a long time looking things up and reading about them until diving in.  This can mean I put things off as I’m afraid they’re not perfect, but I’m working on that as sometimes you learn much more when you get stuck in and try it out.

 

How do you go about creating and testing new brownie recipes?  Where does your inspiration come from?

Recipe ideas tend to evolve but they don’t always work!  My latest one is a Toblerone brownie with lovely big chunks of Toblerone.  It’s going on the website shortly to celebrate the end of the summer holidays.  It’s been inspired by that Toblerone picked up at the airport on the way home!

My pumpkin brownie wasn’t so successful however… perhaps I’ll have it perfected in time for Halloween this year!

 

What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business?

First of all, see if there are any courses being run by your local enterprise organisation.  I attended an excellent course funded by Essex County Council which gave me access to some brilliant speakers and a great support network whilst I was setting up.

 

 

What is your favourite brand and why?

I’ve been thinking about this question and don’t have one favourite brand.  But I take much more notice now of a brand story than I did before I started my own business.

 

What is your favourite song?

Chariots of Fire theme tune by Vangelis.

 

Favourite food?

Chocolate!

 

What was your first ever job?

I had a Saturday job in W H Smith

 

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I either wanted to be a museum curator or an archaeologist.

 

If I gave you an extra day in the week, what would you do with it?

I would have a family & friends day with no work or chores.

 

Finally, what else should I know about you?

I’ve got a very loud laugh which can get me into trouble if I’ve got the giggles!

Boutique Brownies logo

 

I’m happy that Heidi went down the brownies route rather than becoming an archaeologist, as she has said that she’ll send me a sample of her brownies and I can’t wait!  Those images look just delicious, and the Toblerone option sounds amazing!

As she acknowledges, there are many challenges in running the business including being solely responsible for many tasks that feel a long way from the initial business idea.  Above all is marketing – whether that be updating the website, writing newsletters or running social media campaigns.  Heidi has recognised the need to upskill in these areas in order to be able to run her business more effectively and she takes time away from the business to attend relevant courses.

This is something we all need to build in to our schedules and most importantly, into our budgets to ensure we keep up with the changing business world we are working in.

Do let me know if you need support in marketing your business.  Whether it is establishing your core brand identity, building your marketing strategy, developing your communication plan or executing your social media, get in touch and let’s have a chat.