Many of us dream of owning our own business but just don’t know where to start. The inspiration to set it up can come from the most unexpected starting points, as Caroline Stafford, chief baker and owner of The Kitsch Hen, knows all too well.
Just a few years ago Caroline and her husband were undergoing the emotional rollercoaster of IVF treatment. Many women can share the nerve-wracking ordeal known as the two-week-wait, but after years of treatment Caroline was understandably finding it a truly demanding time. And she was not alone – a close friend was going through the same thing.
“We met through a fertility forum, and became close friends. I knew she was going through the two-week-wait, and completely freaking out, and I just wanted to do something to cheer her up a little,” says Caroline.
Discarding the idea of flowers or chocolates as less personal, she decided to combine two of her favourite passions, baking and quotes.
“I’ve always loved inspirational quotes,” she continues. “A quote can capture everything you feel and need to say, in just a few words.”
As cakes are synonymous with celebrations, she decided to bake some simple vanilla biscuits, topped with cheerful icing and with carefully chosen wording that gave her support and shared understanding of her friend’s anxiety.
“They said ‘You are not alone’ and ‘You are strong’. Then I put them in the post so that when they arrived through her letterbox they were a complete surprise for her.”
Caroline began making more biscuits for people she knew, and popping the pictures on Instagram. Soon friends were asking her to bake some for them to send to on to others and The Kitsch Hen was born.
Caroline had always wanted to run a business that let her explore her creativity, but still have an impact on people. She loves that her biscuits can bring some happiness to somebody going through a rough time and give them some edible inspiration.
Now The Kitsch Hen has a website with online ordering, and is making biscuits for birthdays, birth announcements, thank you presents and other special occasions, yet over 70% of her orders are still supportive messages sent to someone having a rough time.
“It’s a simple but unique way to let someone know that you care about them, and to brighten up their day. I love being part of that, and knowing that in a small way I am making a difference in so many lives,” she smiles. “I receive letters or notes from the people who order them telling me how my biscuits and quotes helped, even a little, which is incredibly humbling. I’m just grateful to have found a business that I love.”
The Kitsch Hen creates vanilla biscuits in various sizes and with a selection of coloured fondant icing that’s perfect for both men and women.
Caroline aims to use local, organic and Fair Trade ingredients for everything. Not only are her eggs from local free-range hens, and her vanilla Fair Trade, even the stoneground flour is special, coming from the nearby Whissindine Mill.
In view of the way The Kitsch Hen began, it’s not surprising that Caroline’s first alternate choice in flavours is ginger – specially made to help appease the symptoms of pregnancy. She is trialling vegan recipes, to be introduced to the range soon.