How I Make My Money: I started my cupcake business with £300 and now my turnover is £65,000 a month

In the next few years, I want our business and profit to continue to grow. We want to expand our reach, meet more customers and build up our TikTok channel

In our How I Make My Money series, we aim to find out how people in the UK are earning their cash and making a living. This week we speak to Candice Bannister, 41, who lives in Tameside, with her husband, Oliver, 41, and their two children, Theo, 13, and Poppy, 10. After a long career in the supported housing sector, Candice set up her business, Candy’s Cupcakes, with £300 and started dishing out cakes from her kitchen at home. Now, with a proper industrial unit, 10 staff and a turnover of £65,000 a month, Candice’s customer list includes Tommy Fury, Molly-Mae Hague and Paddy McGuiness.

Monthly income: My business, Candy’s Cupcakes, which I co-own with Oliver, has a turnover of about £65,000 a month. I sometimes draw small dividends from the business when required.

I was born in Tameside and have lived here my entire life. After leaving university I moved into the supported housing sector and got a job in a homeless hostel supporting women and children. I then took on a job for a housing scheme supporting people living with HIV. Over time, I became a senior supported housing officer for mother and baby schemes, earning about £20,000 a year.

I’ve always been very creative and while I was working in supported housing, I made lots of cakes everyone seemed to really enjoy. I then began making simple cake decorations as a hobby in 2010 and started giving them away to family and friends. Soon after, I set up a basic Facebook page to share my work and started getting complete strangers following me and asking for cakes they wanted.

In 2011 my husband gave me £300 to invest in my start-up cake business. I registered our house as a food premises and bought cake boxes, ingredients and equipment. I began costing for my cakes based on how much everything cost me. I would then double the price to make a profit. I used Facebook to grow my followers and help boost sales. It worked really well and took off quickly. Oliver re-trained in the web sector, so was able to create a website for me and run our social media channels.

At this point the biggest pressure was fitting my growing cake business around my other job and home life. Plus, I had to squeeze in all the ingredients and equipment needed for Candy’s Cupcakes into a small home kitchen!

By the time I returned to work in supported housing in 2014 after having my second child, I no longer enjoyed it. I constantly felt like I was firefighting to support people. The resources and support were limited or unavailable and I could no longer fulfil my ambition to support people. I quit my job in supported housing and went full-time with Candy’s Cupcakes in 2014.

In 2019 I moved my cake business from my kitchen to my mother’s garages. I paid rent for them and slowly started taking on staff, getting bigger overheads and bigger tax bills! In 2021 we signed the lease on our current large unit in Aston-under-Lyne. We had to invest £35,000 to get the derelict premises into shape and fit for our business.

During the pandemic, our sales improved tenfold. We went from sending out 10 orders a day to 100 a day. People were at home ordering gifts for loved ones who they could not be with.

Candy’s Cupcakes now has a turnover of about £65,000 a month. Our overheads, including 10 staff, are about £63,000 a month. We had to invest all our profit from last year into the unit, but it has definitely been worth it, and we are on track to make a healthy profit this year.

We’ve had celebrities and big-name companies buy our cakes. Tommy Fury, Molly-Mae Hague, Paddy McGuiness and Slipknot have all purchased our cakes, as has Jaguar Land Rover and Goldman Sachs. We can’t share details of their orders, but we’ve had some big cakes ordered, and some rude ones!

Candice Bannister, who runs her own cake business with her husband called Candy's Cupcakes from Jane Denton
Candice Bannister, who runs her own cake business with her husband called Candy’s Cupcakes

Social media still plays an important role in the business. We have recently turned to TikTok to create content and also offer a live shop most weekdays from 11am until 1pm at our unit, which we intend to expand in the coming months. This has been a fantastic way to speak to customers and gain feedback, especially as we don’t have a physical shop. I also created some YouTube videos and tutorials which still have a great reach but are pretty cringeworthy!

I work to go on holiday, spend time with my family and meet friends. Like most people, I think it’s good to have a nice home and luxury items, but this is not my main motivation. That said, Oliver does like his trainers and that is proving to be quite an expensive hobby!

We like to go on holiday once or twice a year. We work six days a year and do not take much annual leave. We close over Christmas so that’s always a great time for us to get away.

In the next few years, I want our business and profit to continue to grow. We want to expand our reach, meet more customers and build up our TikTok channel even more. I am hoping that a future expansion of the team will mean we can become more efficient and work fewer hours at some point. I knew nothing about how to run a business when I started out and it’s been a steep learning curve, but I love it and it’s all starting to pay off.

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