Let’s face it, we all love a sweet treat and there’s no quicker way to our hearts than with beautiful biscuits so we were delighted to catch up with Steph Giordano, Founder of Baked By Steph. You’ll have seen their customisable cookies brightening up our Instagram feeds and their trending face biscuits shared by star-studded celebs (ahem…Regé-Jean Page we’re looking at you)! Read on to discover how Steph baked her way to the successful business is it today.
Q&A with Steph Giordano from Baked By Steph
Introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do…
I’m Steph and I’m the owner of Baked by Steph, a creative bakery based in East London delivering delicious, letterbox friendly treats across the UK. I started Baked by Steph from my home kitchen in 2019. Having always had a love for baking, I set out with the mission of creating treats that were not only delicious but also fun, creative and that would leave everyone saying WOW! What started as a one-woman-show has now grown into a wonderful team of 15 and we’ve become most known for our hand-iced and highly detailed cookies which can be made to resemble anything from a handbag, to a beauty product or even your pet’s face!
Tell us about why you started Baked by Steph
It all started as a bit of a happy accident really. I don’t have a professional background in baking, I’m completely self-taught. I’ve just always had a love of baking and decorating and it became a bit of an obsession back in 2018.
I turned to decorating cookies and cakes in my evenings after work as a way of unleashing my creativity and relieving stress. I then created an Instagram account to document my baking journey and before I knew it I’d managed to gain a pretty hefty following and I was getting requests from complete strangers to buy whatever I was making.
After a few months of considering it a side hustle, I decided to bite the bullet and quit my day job to see if I could make my love of baking an actual career. It was a real risk, I was receiving a steady stream of orders but not enough to sustain me financially. I just knew in my heart that if I didn’t give it my full attention and energy, I could never grow it and I would never know if it could be a success. I never want to look back in life and wonder “what if?”.
Happy to say that within 3 months of quitting my job I had moved my baking set up from my tiny Camden kitchen to a real commercial kitchen and I had to hire my first employee shortly after to keep up with demand!
What do you love most about what you do?
The creative side has always been and will always be the best part for me. Coming up with new ideas and seeing them being made into a reality, and better yet, seeing them be enjoyed by our customers?! There’s real magic in that, nothing brings me more joy!
What does a typical day look like for you?
I know it’s a business owner cliché but I really don’t have a typical day.
Some days I’m very product focussed and I’m absorbed in new designs (they’re my favourite days), whereas the next day I could be entirely focussed on the finance side of things, meeting with our accountants, analysing our P&L or reviewing and renegotiating our supplier pricing because, you know, cost of living crisis and all that!
Other days I could be filming content for socials, interviewing new team members, leading team meetings, hunting down eggs because of a shortage, talking on a podcast, assembling flat pack furniture for an event, fixing a toilet seat…anything and everything!
Running a business, you have to be flexible and a lot of it comes down to problem solving. I start every day with a list of things I’d like to tackle, but you never know what new challenge the day is going to bring so in reality I’ll only ever check off 2-3 items from my list and I’ve just had to learn to be okay with that. I just make sure I always have Google at the ready because I am always learning on the job!
What do you do to switch off?
I hate to be one of those people but I find real mental peace in exercise. Whether I’m lifting weights in the gym or trying to hold a pretzel-looking pose in yoga, I’m out of my mind and fully in my body. All the noise of the day is gone and the only thing my mind is focussed on is if it’s possible to die from sweating so much.
What stationery item can you not live without and why?
I’m a list kinda gal. I’ve tried going digital so many times but I always come back to my good old fashioned notepad and pen. They go everywhere with me. There’s just no better feeling than physically checking off an item on your to-do list. Do I occasionally add an item to my to-do list just so that I can check it off? Sure. You’ve got to get that dopamine hit wherever you can!
You credit a lot of your growth to your incredible Instagram following. What tips would you give someone trying to build their own community?
I think Instagram has changed SO much in the past 4 years since I first started growing my Instagram community. In the beginning, it was all about aesthetic and it was much easier to accumulate followers and likes with a simple, static grid post. Today is a totally different story. Video content is king and that requires a lot more effort on the part of creators. That can be really daunting and off-putting, but I’ve definitely learned a lot in the past year that I think anyone trying to build a community should consider:
- Don’t be too precious about what you post. Audiences now gravitate toward the authentic, behind the scenes video content than the highly curated, aesthetic content of the past. So take the pressure off yourself and just post. Everything is content!
- Collaborate with other brands that you think your community will enjoy to bring them a fun giveaway. Giveaways are fun for your community and will help you grow your following by getting your brand in front of the collaborating brand’s audience.
- Most importantly, Instagram followers does not indicate a company’s financial success! Having a big following is great and can bring lots of new eyes to your brand, but some of the most successful companies I know have a small social following. Having a smaller, highly engaged and loyal community who buy from you multiple times because they LOVE your product will always be more fruitful and rewarding than a large, unengaged following who aren’t buying anything.
With a new commercial bakery in East London and an amazing 4 years so far, can you give us any clues as to what’s next for Baked By Steph?
I can’t reveal where just yet, but you’ll be seeing Baked by Steph in a rather big, well known store later this year and I am just SO excited! Watch this space.
Best bit of advice you would give to someone else looking to start their own business
We could talk all day long about how you might make a new business successful but, at the end of the day, there is no business without you and burnout is REAL. I’ve experienced it personally and I can’t tell you how many friends who own their own businesses have shared similar stories. So take the time early-on to learn how to look after yourself and really tune into what works best for you to maintain a good work life balance.
Do you have a life mantra or favourite saying that you live by?
“Work smarter, not harder”. I’m a real detail person, and in many ways that’s a real strength, especially when I have my Product Designer hat on. But as a business owner, it’s my achilles heel. I can all too often find myself getting bogged down in the details and forgetting to look up and see the bigger picture. So when I remind myself to work smarter, I’m reminding myself to look at the bigger picture. What do I really need to do to get there and what can I streamline or remove from my list that isn’t so necessary and is just holding me back? This is a real work in progress for me but it’s my main focus right now.
If you’d like to know more about how Steph built a thriving online community and to garner tips for your own small business, don’t miss our IG live! Hosted by our own Founder, Martha and Steph will reveal their personal highs and lows for building a business from the ground up. Join live at Thursday 20th April at 1pm.