01:17 – About Wellington Cakes
02:33 – How to pivot a cake company during Covid
04:31 – Grab your cookie/cupcake kit! Here’s how.
05:46 – Wellington Cake’s post-Covid plans
07:41 – Reflections on the past couple of months
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Jason Bavington (00:01):
Hey, all your dessert lovers out there. Have I got a treat for you today! You are going to love this treat! It’s actually kind of a virtual treat. But just trust me, just trust me, just, just come inside.
Jason Bavington (00:31):
Okay. So we are in downtown Guelph today at Wellington Cakes in this gorgeous, gorgeous, almost seemingly ages, old building with all this exposed limestone. And we have Anne Forestell who’s the owner of Wellington Cakes here with us today. Welcome Anne.
Anne Forestell (00:47):
Hi! Thank you for having me.
Jason Bavington (00:48):
You know, I can appreciate that if people have a sweet tooth, that this is definitely the place to be.
Anne Forestell (00:53):
Definitely. For sure.
Jason Bavington (00:54):
But, but not only a sweet tooth. Because you can buy cupcakes anywhere or you can buy cakes anywhere. But if you have, like, a decadent sweet tooth, like a sweet tooth that’s worthy of respect. This is the place to be.
Anne Forestell (01:07):
This is true. Yes. For sure.
Jason Bavington (01:09):
Yeah. We’ve seen the line ups. We’ve heard the rumours. We know, we know we are at THE place in Guelph today, for sweet tooths and everything related to that. So, Anne, tell us a little bit about Wellington Cakes. You know, how you got going, how you started out, how you came to own this beautiful building and maybe, you know, what you’ve been up to prior to Covid and making more of the world happy.
Anne Forestell (01:29):
Sure. So we started in September of 2011, so we’ve been here almost nine years now. This all started as I took a cake decorating class and I really enjoyed it and I dove into it head first. This building became available, so I was in a fortunate position to be able to purchase it and just went in headfirst. We primarily do wedding cakes, so we are normally fully booked up over the summer with weddings. We also have a cafe here, so we sell cupcakes and butter tarts, French macarons, all that sort of stuff on a daily basis, but do lots of wedding cakes, birthday cakes, anniversaries, things like that.
Jason Bavington (02:04):
Nice. And I’ve seen some of your work and, you know, some of the cakes you make are just, they’re simply works of art and it’s fantastic. What’s the, is it called “fondant”?
Anne Forestell (02:12):
Yes. So we work with a lot of fondant. We model things. We make sugar flowers that look very realistic. We make little characters for kids cakes, like there’s so many different things that we can do with it.
Jason Bavington (02:24):
Wow. Yeah. And it looks far better than the cake I make for my kid’s birthday, so kudos to you.
Anne Forestell (02:30):
Just need a little bit of practice.
Jason Bavington (02:30):
I know! Just YouTube videos, right? So you’ve been making these beautiful cakes, these beautiful cupcakes and butter tarts and macarons, like you said. And then this little virus came along and kind of changed the world. So tell us a little bit about how Wellington Cakes has pivoted through the Covid crisis to, you know, continue to bring revenue in the door and the creative ways you’ve been able to pivot your business to keep the masses happy and still pay the bills.
Anne Forestell (02:57):
So we had to really shift because as I mentioned that mostly we do wedding cakes and all weddings are now postponed or cancelled. So we’ve had one or two where they’ve had a couple of little small ceremonies, just the bride and groom. So we’ve done one or two of those cakes, but that’s nothing compared to the large 100, 150 person cakes that we did in the past and did multiple on a weekend. So we immediately launched into doing some other things. The first day that they announced, so this is on the 17th of March, that the Province was going to lock down, I did some cookie kits. I started making cookies as fast as I could, wrapped up bags of icing and sprinkles and packaged it altogether for people to take home and do with their kids. So it was March break.
Anne Forestell (03:40):
It was a great opportunity for them to have a little fun. So we started off doing Easter cookie kits cause we were just a few weeks out from that. And those went crazy up until after Easter weekend. We pivoted then into a Spring cookie kit and those went really great over Mother’s Day. And now we’re doing some cupcake decorating kits, so things a little bit out of what we would normally do. So we do lots of cookies ourselves. We decorate and they take us hours to do, and we thought it might be fun for kids to experience doing that themselves. And now we’re moving into the cupcakes. So they get some fondant decorations that they can put on top and a bunch of different flavours. And that’s what we’re doing our best at for paying the bills. We are still open Fridays and Saturdays for some takeout. So we have our general selection of cupcakes and butter tarts available as well. We’re doing everything we can.
Jason Bavington (04:30):
Nice. So if people want to order the food kids, do they go to your website? Do you have a Shopify store. How does it work if people want to pick up a couple of kits?
Anne Forestell (04:38):
We’re old school, so you need to call us or you need to send us an email. So we don’t have it online because the amount that we can do every week fluctuates and fluctuates on since I am a parent of toddlers. So I can only be in at the store every so often when my husband works and we don’t have a ton of staff. We have some, but we’re not a big facility. So it fluctuates. So we don’t have it online for you to purchase. You need to email us so we can see what our staffing is like that week, what our ingredients are like and how much we can do.
Jason Bavington (05:08):
Nice. So, you know, get them while they’re hot. And how has feedback been in terms of cookie kits? How are people receiving them? What kind of comments have you heard? What are people what’s the State of the Nation for your kits?
Anne Forestell (05:20):
It’s been great. People love them. So it’s because they’ve been around the city now for a couple of months, it’s starting to die off a little bit. But we got a great response when we started doing them and people were sending us photos and we would repost them to our Instagram page. Lots of comments on how their children really enjoyed it, or it’s just a lot of fun.TIt took them outside of just being at home with watching iPads, with their kids, gave them something fun to do on a weekend.
Jason Bavington (05:44):
Yeah. Excellent. And so now that, you know, the world’s kind of moving into a new normal out of Covid, you said you’re open Fridays and Saturdays and hopefully you’ll open to, return to your more regular schedule in the next couple of weeks, or so. Do you have plans to continue the kits? What are you thinking? Emerging out of Covid, what’s the world of Wellington Cakes going to look like going forward?
Anne Forestell (06:04):
So hopefully at some point we’ll go back to normal and we’ll do weddings again. W’e’ll probably do something for the summer, cause I’m sure that not, like, July’s only three weeks away. It’s not going to fully reopen by then. So we might do a summer cookie kit that has ice cream cones and popsicles and stuff in it for people to decorate, Going forward, this is something that has been so successful that we will do it at holidays again. So we’ll probably do something for Hallowe’en, something for Christmas, again, next Easter. So it’s not something that we’ll do on a weekly basis, but we definitely want to keep doing it. And yeah, we’re just hoping the traffic comes back for all the regular things that we do. People can have birthdays that are more than five people and we’ll start doing some of the larger cakes again.
Jason Bavington (06:46):
Yeah. I find it really interesting, all the creativity and innovation that has emerged out of Covid. So, you know, you might not have been doing cookie kits prior to Covid, you might not have been doing cupcake kits if possible. It’s something you had way down the road as a thought or maybe didn’t think of it at all. But regardless of what was down the road, you created kits now and you’re going to continue to offer them going forward. So it’s really interesting to see the kind of creativity and the solutions that small business owners are coming up with that might not happened otherwise. So it’s just really interesting to see, you know, these innovations that people are doing for the short term, but they have potential long-term strategical approaches as well.
Anne Forestell (07:25):
Yeah, for sure. Yeah. It’s nice to add something new to our menu, get the word out to some people who may not have known of us before. Because it’s just not, they weren’t in the market for what we’re doings. But this is like a fun activity that they really enjoyed. So gives us some new customers this way.
Jason Bavington (07:40):
Nice. And so now that you’ve been doing for the kits, you’ve been doing them for a little while now, looking back on April and March is there anything that if you were to do it again, anything you would change? Do differently? Try something new? What’s your hindsight look like?
Anne Forestell (07:55):
Hindsight. It went really well. So it was very overwhelming because we hadn’t done it before, so it might be going forward if we were doing it on large scale, again, it’d be a little more organized. Maybe we’d be able to take on more orders. But we had such a good response to it and they sold really well. There really isn’t much that we would change about it.
Jason Bavington (08:16):
Nice. So great ideas that were very well implemented. They had a fantastic response from the community and, you know, why stop a good thing? Just keep it going. Yeah. Very exciting. Well, I celebrate everything that you’re doing here at Wellington Cakes and the way you pivoted and brought the ingenuity to fruition and that it’s worked really well for you. So kudos to that. And what we’ll do is, Anne, we’ll post links below this blog post to your website, Instagram, your phone number, everything. So you have that cookie kit craving? This is the lady you need to speak to. So we’ll put that all down and thanks very much.
Anne Forestell (08:54):
Jason Bavington (08:55):
That was really good to hear. You’ve made me hungry. I have to go find a treat somewhere now or wait till Friday, which you know, we’re filming this on Monday. So it’s kind of a long ways to wait, but you know, good things come to those who wait. So we’re willing to, you know, make the sacrifice.
Jason Bavington (09:10):
So thank you very much, Anne.
Anne Forestell (09:11):
Jason Bavington (09:12):
So I’m Jason with DUX — Your Local City Guide. If you’re watching this video anywhere else but on our website, head on over to dux.city, click the video blog link and you’ll find the Wellington Cakes post there. And as I mentioned, we’ll post links to all the various ways you can get in touch with Anne and Wellington Cake crew to satisfy your cookie, cupcake, and future sweet tooth cravings. So everyone take care, enjoy the sunshine, enjoy this beautiful weather. We’ll get through it together. We’ll keep eating our cookies. And we’ll talk to you soon. Cheers.