“When you buy from a small business, an actual person does a little happy dance.” At DLUXE Magazine, we love to champion independent businesses and in particular support those local to us. There’s an added personal touch and heart that you can’t find anywhere else.

In the last 12 months, many of us have found due to furlough, redundancies and reduced hours, we’ve been able to use that time to busy ourselves with new-found and rediscovered hobbies. Difficult times have blossomed new directions and opportunities.

Using her passion for baking, Philippa Norton from Solihull has turned her hand to whisk up mouth wateringly, totally Instagrammable grazing boxes with her business, Bakes & Graze.

“For as long as I can remember, I have loved to bake. After being furloughed back in April 2020, I used baking to busy my time. With only two other members in my household, I reached out to my personal Instagram following, offering what was known then as ‘porch pick ups’ for anyone local passing by. I’d put my daily bakes in the porch in exchange for donations, of which all profits went to the NHS. I returned to work at the start of June but continued receiving daily enquiries for bakes. A gift box of bakes for my best friend after the birth of her baby boy in July then snowballed into what is now Bakes & Graze!”

Having been re-furloughed in November 2020, Philippa took the opportunity with the festive season approaching to utilise the second lockdown to take her business to the next level. Since then, she has gained a loyal customer base who are quick to get their hands on tasty treat boxes featuring favourites including Triple Chocolate Cookies, Biscoff Blondies , Red Velvet Cookies and Kinder & Oreo Brownies – to name just a few.

“One of our best sellers are our Brookies (a brownie/cookie combination) and I’ve never tasted anything else like it! I also love experimenting with bespoke customer requests – I’m finding seasonal fun at the moment with our Valentine’s bakes and Easter pending!”

“My customers so far have been ridiculously supportive and encouraging, I couldn’t wish for better. I have so many ideas and ambitions this year, one of which is to really finesse our branding/packaging and deliver the best service possible!”

On the best part of baking and running her own business, she added: “I love that it doesn’t feel like work, I’m essentially doing my hobby and getting paid for it?! It just doesn’t feel real to me having been a pipeline dream for so long. I love seeing the process from beginning to end, and of course receiving the lovely feedback from our amazing customers.”

For those who are considering furthering their dream and making that step in 2021, Philippa advised: “Start small and build from the ground up. In the early days I tried to cater for every need and it just isn’t possible. You have to identify your niche, focus on your strengths and stick to it. It’s easy to get consumed with what everyone else is doing and feel like you should be doing the same.”

Follow @bakesandgraze on Instagram to feast your eyes on their tasty treats and order for local collection (Solihull, Birmingham, B91) or postal delivery which is available nationwide.

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