The husband and wife duo purchased My Baker in 2020 during lockdown despite the mass uncertainty
I’d be lying if I said there haven’t been moments of self-doubt, and the occasional craving for the security of my city life, and the salary! Mark Sinjakli, co-owner of cake delivery business My Baker, told me. But we’ve been delighted by the support and loyalty of the bakers and the customers, and the growth we’ve managed to achieve to date.
My Baker was initially launched by Noreen and Yvonne, two city professionals who quit their careers to pursue their passion for cake making. They expanded the business to form a team of talented bakers selling their delicious products to thousands of customers across London and Birmingham. In 2019 Noreen men Mel, a North London-based baker who joined the My Baker team and developed a thriving customer base in just a year. Mel and her husband Mark were so impressed by the bakery that they decided to take over the business and scale My Baker to greater heights. Mark and Mel acquired the business in June 2020, and Mel went from being a baker to the co-owner of a bakery. Since taking over My Baker, Mark and Mel are on a mission to expand their cake delivery service to all parts of the UK.
Mark came from a corporate restructuring background and his wife, Mel, always had a passion for baking. With Mark’s business knowledge and Mel’s flair in baking, the duo became unstoppable. Being a baker myself definitely stood me in good stead for running My Baker, Mel said. I know what is achievable and reasonable in a given timeframe, so can bridge the expectation gap between customer and baker. Mark has a customer mindset so likes to give them what they want; I can give him a tap on the shoulder if I think he’s in danger of overpromising, so the combination works well!
Mark and Mel loved the concept of My Baker, building a community of talented bakers while providing customers with a reliable delivery service of authentic and quality cakes transported on time and fresh to customers’ doorstep. Time-poor customers can now make that last-minute ‘distressed purchase’ with confidence, knowing they will get a nice cake, reliably delivered, across the UK, Mark explained. Wonderfully talented artisanal bakers, who for various reasons don’t generate enough orders on their own to make their baking business commercially viable, get orders, support, and to be part of a community. We don’t compete with bakers for their loyal, local customers who will always go straight to them. Rather, we bring them additional orders from national and international customers.
Taking over a business during lockdown may prove a risky venture. But Mel and Mark took the opportunity to expand their customer base with an easy-to-use online orders portal, as people were stuck at home rather than going out to restaurants or cafes. They also launched a postal range to deliver cakes nationally at a lower cost. We were actually far luckier than most during the lockdown, Mark explained. As an online offering, we weren’t facing the onerous property costs of a high street business. As a food delivery business, we were allowed to continue to operate. And a population that couldn’t go on holiday, to the shops, to a restaurant or the pub had disposable income to spend on cake. There were some frustrating moments, including wedding cakes organised, paid for and then cancelled, and going on missions to buy eggs which were being rationed, but others had it far worse than us.
However, the beginning days of taking over the business was no easy feat. Mel and Mark wanted to expand the business to untouched areas, and begin receiving orders in places with no bakers ‘ and had bakers in places with no orders. The pair had to figure out the logistics and how to bridge the gap between demand and supply, and that meant they had to do the leg work themselves.
We noticed in some cases we had orders where we didn’t have bakers, and bakers where we didn’t have orders! Mark told me, We had a run of orders in Surbiton with no-baker nearby and couldn’t figure out why! Mel ended up doing the cakes and I’d make three-hour round trips round the North and South Circular roads from our home in Muswell Hill to deliver them. It suddenly made sense when a Surbiton baker got in touch three months after we bought the business, saying she had had a lovely time looking after her new born but would now like to re-join the platform! We didn’t know she’d left and snapped her back up in an instant!
Mark added: Whilst there is still a long way to go, we’ve been very successful in recruiting quality bakers, adding 10-15 a month to our platform. It has been hard work finding them, but the fact that Mel is a baker is our secret weapon. We understand the baker experience first-hand; late nights, occasional hiccups leading to re-bakes, frustrating delivery journeys etc. I think that empathy stands us in good stead. We aren’t asking bakers to do anything we haven’t done ourselves.
Since taking over the company in 2020, Mel and Mark have managed to double turnover, build a network of 200 high-quality bakers and have expanded their presence to most major UK cities within the first 12 months. They now plan to expand the business even more by offering corporate delivery services and expanding the team to over 1000 staff.
Mel and Mark pride themselves in their determined and tenacious mindset while continuing to run a business with care, compassion and understanding as integral values. On the one hand, we are driven to continual improvement, Mark said. We’re perfectionists who see the weaknesses in our business and are obsessed with addressing them. We’re never satisfied with what we’ve achieved, we’re impatient to see things improve. Although we can look back and see we’ve made massive strides, we’re never complacent and we’re always thinking about what the next important thing is to do.
In a few words to entrepreneurs who wish to either launch their business or take over one, Mark added: It takes time to build a successful business, so don’t expect it to pay your bills right away. As far as possible have a cushion for living expenses, as you will likely need to reinvest any profits to grow effectively.
Mel and I are lucky in that we love working together. Potential husband and wife teams should be aware they are putting a lot on the line going into business together. If it goes wrong, it could be their livelihood and their relationship on the line; that’s really high stakes.