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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Featured Business

HVL reporter Clare Walsh meets Vicky Sargent, proprietor of Lemoncake Studio, Market Street, Hoylake:


The minute you step into Lemoncake Studio, you know this is not going to be your standard shop.

Beautiful bespoke cakes are displayed in the stunningly designed studio, which creates the perfect backdrop to showcase the talent of proprietor and professional cake maker, Vicky Sargent.

If you’re looking to impress, this is the place to go. Be it a wedding cake, birthday cake, hen do, Easter or any other celebration, the cakes here are individually and meticulously designed to your requirements.

But simply creating and selling fabulous cakes wasn’t enough for Vicky. She wanted to create a hub at the centre of Hoylake where children and adults alike could come to workshops and learn the secrets of the professionals, through creating and decorating their own stunning cakes.

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“Funnily enough, the opening of competition in the local area forced me to narrow my options and thus really channel my efforts, which has massively paid off.”

But where did it all start and where did her inspiration come from? “I came across a company called Planet Cake whilst living abroad in Australia a couple of years ago”, Vicky said.

“I loved their fresh take on design and how they make it all look so fun and contemporary. Cake making was huge over there, with Perth full of ‘yummy mummies’ spending vast amounts on cake equipment - and I guess I just fell into the trap!”

She admitted, however, that realising her love of all things cake while on the other side of the world did have its downsides. ”The only problem was bringing all my equipment back to the UK – I realised how serious my passion was when I threw my clothes away to make space in my luggage!”

The hard work pays off

The hard work has clearly paid off. Lemoncake Studio celebrated its first birthday recently and has gone from strength to strength, boasting a large portfolio which attracts the likes of the Hard Days Night Hotel in Liverpool and Radio City.

However, as with every new business, Vicky admits that it hasn’t been without its challenges. “When I opened there was minimal competition so it was hard to know what market to focus on – should I sell sugar craft equipment, teach workshops, sell wedding cakes or promote children’s parties?

“Funnily enough, the opening of competition in the local area forced me to narrow my options and thus really channel my efforts, which has massively paid off.”

Lemoncake Studio now concentrates solely on bespoke and wedding cakes, along with running the workshops and children’s parties. These last around two hours and your child will learn all the tricks of the trade, from piping buttercream swirls and roses to making sugar craft flowers and butterflies. Your little one will then return home with a box of six of their very own cupcakes.

Asked about the secret of her success Vicky’s answer was simple. “I started this venture based on a creative passion having realised there was a gap in the local market for what the studio offers. Due to the fact that part of my business is based on teaching people what is perceived as a 'recreational skill' I knew I was making a huge gamble given today's economic climate.

“However, I actually think that this has added to the success of the business. I offer people the chance to take time out, relax, learn new skills and leave with a feeling of pride at what they have achieved....something people relish whilst dealing with everyday stress. And I love the look on the children's faces as they leave holding their creations. Their parents see this too and I think that definitely helps in enticing people to return back to the studio.”

So after a successful first year, what’s next for Lemoncake? “The next twelve months is basically going to be continuing from the lessons that I have learnt from last year” said Vicky.

“I am constantly creating new wedding designs for the studio and I am also in the process of recruiting an apprentice. I can't wait for them to start as I have some exciting plans in the pipeline!”

To see Vicky’s creations pop into Lemoncake Studio on Market Street between 11am-5pm Wednesday-Friday or by appointment Sunday-Tuesday. To get a taster and see a variety of her creations visit her website www.lemoncakestudio.co.uk.


 

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Invest in Hoylake

Hoylake is bucking the trend. While many similar sized towns are visibly struggling to exit the recession, Hoylake is showing very real signs of recovery, with enormous potential for sustainable growth:


Retail vacancies have dropped dramatically since 2009, and confidence is growing steadily. The arrival of Holiday Inn Express and Marco Pierre White brands are clear demonstrations of that confidence.

Hoylake is home to a number of highly successful national and international businesses: Hoylake Sailing School is an international centre of excellence for training of Merchant Navy, Superyacht and Workboat professionals; the Scottish Power Training Centre is one of the UK's premier training centres for elecricians. Candis Ltd publish one of the UKs top selling women's family and lifestyle magazines.

Carr Lane Industrial Centre offers direct rail connections to Birkenhead and Liverpool, with premises available for small to medium sized businesses. Our range of accommodation and restaurants is second to none, offering your clients an excellent and relaxing base to work with you whether visiting from outside the region or indeed from around the world.

This is a town on the edge of a renaissance not seen for decades, prompted in part by the return of global golf tournaments at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in 2006, 2012 and again in 2014.

“Less than 30 minutes from Liverpool, and only ten minutes from the M53, Hoylake provides a high quality and well connected environment from which to do business."

Now is the time to invest in Hoylake.

Less than 30 minutes from Liverpool, and only ten minutes from the M53, Hoylake provides a high quality and well connected environment from which to do business. Hoylake already has a reputation as a quality financial and legal services hub with both national and boutique brands; a large and successful industrial estate at Carr Lane and enjoys a skilled resident workforce from across many sectors.

There will be excellent transport links with the forthcoming International Trade Centre (below). A wide range of accommodation is also available, from self catering through to quality hotel accommodation.

To find out more about doing business in Wirral, join the Invest Wirral LinkedIn group. Also visit the Hoylake Professionals website to find out more about professional services in Hoylake.

Duport put Wirral top of the league for business growth

ITC CGI 05 FrontDock Day
“These figures show a greater rate of growth in the number of companies formed than giants like London and Manchester, and show Wirral far exceeding our neighbours in Liverpool and Chester."

It's not just in Hoylake that confidence is growing: Wirral Borough has been named the UK's top area for new business growth. In the first quarter 2013, Wirral saw growth of 4.67% in the number of companies registered in the borough. The figures are published by independent business performance resource Duport, which gathers and analyses business performance data from Companies House, the Office for National Statistics and Ordnance Survey.

Councillor Phil Davies, Leader of Wirral Council said: "We are seeing an exciting growth in new enterprise in Wirral, a growth which will create jobs and bring further investment to our area. These figures show a greater rate of growth in the number of companies formed than giants like London and Manchester, and show Wirral far exceeding our neighbours in Liverpool and Chester. Our work through initiatives like the Wirral Apprentice Programme and with private sector partners on our Investment Strategy Board will further fuel our drive to revitalise the local economy."

Duport's figures place Wirral first of the 'top 100 towns by their relative net growth'. Warrington is next from the region in 12th place, with Liverpool in 44th place and Chester 95th.

Wirral Council is currently working alongside Cammell Laird to set up a new Operations and Maintenance facility for the offshore wind industry. Wirral Council was successful in bidding for £5 million from the Regional Growth Fund to support the development of the borough as a hub for the offshore wind industry.

The borough is also set to host the International Festival of Business in 2014.


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Move to Hoylake

When it comes to property, Hoylake has it all... large Victorian mansions to classic terraces... beachside villas to cool town centre apartments. A town that is 'on the up', bucking national trends…


For example, in 2009, Hoylake had a 25 per cent shop vacancy rate. Now... nine percent, and dropping as niche businesses move in. Could this be your chance to ride the crest of a wave?


About our sponsors

CliveWatkinThe Clive Watkin Partnership offers a personal and proactive service tailored to your specific needs where our team organises every aspect of your sale in order to reach more prospective buyers. We have created a residential sales package which will help to get your property seen by as many people as possible including:

  • Advertising your property on the UK’s leading property websites including www.rightmove.co.uk www.home-sale.co.uk www.clivewatkin.com
  • Regular press advertising in key local papers.
  • Prominent display of your home in your local branch, including colour photographs and floor plans.
  • Active computerised mailing system with hundreds of applicants, many of whom have urgent requirements.
  • Distinctive ‘for sale’ boards.

Step by step, we ensure your home is placed right where prospective customers will see it using the teams experience to keep the process simple and as quick as possible.


 

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Come in number fifteen!

Hoylake B&B Number Fifteen in Stanley Road attracts visitors from across the world. Here, proprietor Hilary Skinner gives an insight into what it's like:

There is no such thing as a typical day when you run a bed and breakfast and that’s one of the reasons I love it! You meet so many fascinating people and it is lovely when guests come back again and again, although I enjoy meeting all my new guests too.

With our fabulous location overlooking Royal Liverpool we do of course get lots of golfers, but we get plenty of other guests too. As well as those visiting family and friends we get windsurfers, sand yachters, walkers, bird watchers, Navy and Army officers (much to the envy of my friends!), and people visiting the area on business. We’ve also had two guys whose “job” is to deliver treats to golfers part way round the course, by remote control truck or model airplane – what a job!

Weddings are a topic on their own. We’ve had brides stay the night before the wedding (and a Ferrari and Rolls in our driveway) nervous grooms and best men sitting with their I pads at breakfast frantically searching on Youtube for a video of how to tie a “real” bow tie, and several couples on their wedding night. One photographer said to me, “I wish every bride could start from here with your spacious rooms, you wouldn’t believe the number of times I have to photograph the bride and bridesmaids in a room the size of a broom cupboard!” We’ve refrigerated a cheesecake overnight (a wedding cake made out of wheels of cheese) and provided sieves, palate knives, icing sugar etc to a houseful of guests who had each been asked to bring a cake to a wedding as the dessert. I’ve learned that my role is to help with the last minute crises and when guests are getting ready for a wedding I’m always on hand with sellotape, scissors and a variety of pins!

"I’ve learned that my role is to help with the last minute crises and when guests are getting ready for a wedding I’m always on hand with sellotape, scissors and a variety of pins!"

Any famous faces? A favourite question – well we had Colin Montgomerie, but lovely though he is, he isn’t the famous one! However we have had a famous actress, a famous cricketer and an Olympic Gold medal winner and world record holder….so yes!

Any tricky moments?.... Well there was the guy who drove up from South Wales and arrived here, unexpectedly early, at 9am, when the previous night’s guests were enjoying their leisurely breakfast. He knew his company had booked a twin and a single room and he wanted to make sure he got the single. Slightly unfortunately for him, one guy didn’t turn up so they each got a room to themselves anyway. Then there was the couple who turned up a day early when we were full. We coped and they were extremely apologetic when they checked the dates on their e-mail and realised their mistake!

I’m amazed by the number of people from different countries who visit us. To date we have had guests from twenty six different countries, including Pakistan, Bermuda, Russia, Alaska, Japan, Slovenia, and, surely hard to beat, St Kitts and Nevis. The second thing that surprises me is that guests often help clear away after breakfast. When I try and get them to stop, because they are after all on their holiday, they say things along the lines of “we clear up at home, and we feel at home here, so we WANT to help”. And one thing I certainly didn’t expect was the number of thank you cards and present guests give me. I’ve had bouquets of flowers, bottles of wine, a voucher for a restaurant “so you can enjoy somebody else looking after you for a change” and a manicure, to name but a few.

Is there a job I’d rather do? I doubt it….although flying those treats in by model airplane does sound fun!


 

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