Meet Banker by day, and Baker by night, Pippa McLeod – who, while running a full time job in financial regulation, runs a bakery and gourmet eatery cleverly named Thyme To Mix! Having spent much time baking delicious and creative eats for friends and family alike, Pippa decided to turn her hobby into her business. Continue reading as Pippa describes how she juggles her intense career with her passion…
Full Name: Philippa Louise McLeod
Current Title/Position: Money Laundering Control Officer at a major South African bank; Founder of Thyme To Mix Gourmet Eatery & Bakery
Educational Background: Bachelor of Arts (Humanities – Psychology and Sociology), Bachelor of Social Sciences (Hons – Criminology and Criminal Justice), Master of Science (Psychology and Investigation)
Current City: Johannesburg
Pippa, you recently started Thyme To Mix – a bakery and gourmet eatery specializing in Wedding cakes, gourmet cookies, cupcakes and other creative eats. Take us through the journey to finding your business?
Cooking and baking have always been something that I have loved. I have never really thought about making it into a business until two years ago when I began holding charity events and organizing luncheons. It was then that friends and family suggested I take my talent further and create a business plan. From there friends began asking me to make their wedding cakes and it has begun growing.
Funding is notoriously known as every entrepreneur’s biggest challenge, and I can imagine that with running a bakery and constantly having to purchase ingredients for various recipes, a large amount of capital is required. How did you accumulate the majority of your capital and what advice do you have for entrepreneurs presently trying to collect enough capital for their ventures?
I have an incredibly supportive husband and family but they were all very realistic – start the business whilst you are currently employed. Start small and build a name for yourself, once you have done that you create demand. Eventually there might be a need to open a little store or a kitchen, but for right now it is out of my own kitchen at home. A portion of my salary going into my cakes and desserts, the payment for which either goes back into my account or into the next cake. The idea is to never be out of pocket.
You are known as a health and fitness enthusiast amongst your peers. How do you balance your passion for baking sugary treats with your strong interest in healthy eating?
I am lucky, I don’t generally eat what I make. I love all food and I certainly wouldn’t stop myself eating what I make I think when you are baking and cooking all the time you just get over the desire to eat everything. I do love the odd teaspoon of batter though.
Your most notable marketing tool seems to be word of mouth. How do you exercise this tool most effectively amongst your friends, family and colleagues to grow your business?
I think we are lucky with the world we live in today. Everyone posts their every move. I use Instagram and Facebook a lot for what I create. Friends take pictures of what I make them and they also post them.
At present you work at a major bank while running Thyme to Mix. What major tips would you give to anyone trying to run their side business while balancing a full-time job?
Make sure you have a great boss *Laughs*. No but seriously, I am very lucky with the position I hold and my boss. I have flexi-hours which helps a great deal. I don’t take advantage of them and they don’t take advantage of me. I have always been very honest with what I am doing and I make sure that I do everything to the best of my ability as well as trying not to drop the ball in my day job.
What distinguishes your products are how uniquely decorated they are. Where do your source your inspiration from?
To be honest, Google. I get a lot of my ideas of Google, various cake sites and Instagram. I follow people from all over the world. I see what they are making and decide that I need to try these things.
Take us through what a typical cake design process looks like for you?
First off I would need an order. A lot of the time people have their own ideas of what they want. For a wedding however, I will create a portfolio from Pinterest with a variety of cakes that could possibly be made and what could possibly go with their theme. They will then go through the portfolio and decide what they would like the outside to look like, then comes the fun part – the sponge and buttercream. This part is exciting because people these days are so incredibly clever. There are so many flavours and additions out there that you could literally have whatever you wanted.
As an entrepreneur and baker, what have been your biggest challenges and how have you been able to overcome them?
My biggest challenge has been how to charge for cakes and cupcakes. I am not very good at charging friends and family for something that I love doing and that grows me as a person. I am learning though and working on formulas that will be able to help me charge accordingly.
Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Do NOT give up. Cheesy? Maybe, but to be honest the only way you ever get anywhere in life is by trying. Talent is a portion but without the hard work, you really will not succeed. Oh and there will always be those people who try and put you down. Put them in a little box in the back of your mind and carry on kicking.
Morning or night? Morning
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and what would you order? I would have lunch with Anna Polyviou and I would order her Eton Mess from Masterchef
I wish I knew how to… Make Anna Polyviou’s Eton Mess
South Africa is… Is my home, it always will be
Worst money mistake… Shopping unnecessarily
Best investment… Flexi-fixed deposit and the JSE
Motivation in 3 words… Never give up