Cheryl Jakes is a busy woman splitting her time between volunteer work, running the Church Hall for over 11 years, organising events including an Xmas Extravaganza plus running The Local View, a business directory as well as indulging in her love of folk and morris dancing. All of this on top of raising four children with her husband Matthew!
The idea for her new business, Gluttony Fudge arose from her love of the sweet stuff which she used to produce for local businesses to giveaway as promotional gifts, for which she became known as “The Fudge Lady.”
Initially Cheryl worked in the car industry on the service desk reception, followed by time in North Yorkshire in customer service for an agricultural company which she loved. She later returned to the Whittesley area and has become a well-known and active member of the business community. She learnt the process of making fudge at another company and still works with them now to bounce ideas off and help develop new flavours.
“I love fudge and I also love creating new flavours and shapes – my mind is always thinking of new ideas to explore,” stated Cheryl. She explains that the marketplace is very crowded but that her fudge offers something different to others with a range of vegan dairy free and coeliac friendly fudges with a soft texture and a taste which is not too sweet. The name for the company came from the phrase “glutton for punishment” which came to mind when thinking of starting her new fudge business over a year ago with all her other commitments.
“The national lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic gave me time to think about my idea for this business and I set it up, taking my products to markets, events and shows where it was extremely popular,” she commented.
Cheryl heard about the Growth Hub’s Start and Grow programme through the local council and she got in touch to find out how they could help her business and the plans she had for growth. “I was nervous about putting together all the content for the grant application, but was reassured by the team, who carefully explained the process and what was required.”
“The team provided a lot of hand-holding to help me work through the application process which was brilliant – Mark Longman definitely went above and beyond to ensure that we had the support we needed,” stated Cheryl. She applied for the grant to cover the costs of two new sets of equipment for attending events, the development of a promotional leaflet to advertise the business, social media support and potentially a new member of staff.
Cheryl explained, “The process is quite time-consuming and lengthy due to the different stages of the application process, so we have had to adapt some of the plans to attend events that we originally had, with family members helping out at shows, as we have hit our busy period. However, I would say that the grant has been really worthwhile as it will help us to grow as a business.”
For anyone thinking of starting a new business, Cheryl advises to research your idea carefully and ask lots of questions. She also encourages people to not be afraid to ask for help for example from the Start and Grow programme as her experience has been that the team were very responsive.
Cheryl’s creative mind has already designed and produced a reusable advent calendar for businesses to gift to employees with branded sleeves to build her brand profile and she has also worked on the development of her subscription service. She is also looking at different packaging ideas and new shapes such as baubles.
“We want to help local businesses to be remembered by their customers as well as providing gift and treat options to individual customers who can order directly on our website. It’s become more important to build that brand loyalty and fudge can be a great way of doing that,” stated Cheryl.
Looking forward, she is keen to develop their customer newsletter as well as expand into the wedding market and utilise key events in the year such as Veganuary to promote her products. “The support we have received from the Growth Hub has been great and I would encourage others to get in touch with them and to not be put off by the paperwork, as the team are there to help you with that every step of the way!”
How you can get support for your business
You can get 121 support from a business advisor, who can also help you with a grant application. It is all completely free as part of the Start and Grow Programme. Click here to find out more or fill in our really simple form to register your interest and one of advisors will be in touch to see how we can help. The programme runs until the end of December (with a deadline of 11 November to submit grant applications) – so act now to make sure you get the boost your business needs.