Why Liz swapped corporate life for cakes as her Leeds business expands

Why Liz swapped corporate life for cakes as her Leeds business expands
Decadent donuts by Porterhouse Cake Co. Picture Jo Ritchie.

Decadent donuts by Porterhouse Cake Co. Picture Jo Ritchie.

A self-diagnosed mid-life crisis led to Liz Richardson turning her hobby into a full-time business.

Six months after launching a successful crowd-funding appeal she is now rising to the challenges of being a one-person start-up business and is looking to where she can now take the Porterhouse Cake Company.

From being miserable in a corporate job and making wedding cakes for friends as a hobby she now has a purpose fitted catering kitchen in a unit at Armley that is producing enough sweet treats to feed up to 450 people a day.

You will find more than 25 types of cake from walnut loaves, to donuts, cupcakes, brownies and more and, chances are if you tucked into coffee and cake at Laynes Espresso, Stage Espresso and Brewbar, Workshop and Fika at Headingley, Muddy Boots at Harewood and Hoxton at Harrogate then it was Liz, of Bramley, that made them.

Liz Richardson of Porterhouse Cake Co.

And if you went to the sell out Beer and Donut pairing events at this year’s Leeds Indie Food, then that was also her handiwork.

But the phrase ‘slaving over a hot stove’ couldn’t be more fitting as Liz explains.

“I do love it but I had no clue how hard it would be. If someone could show you when you have your pipe dreams, no-one would ever do it. There have been 20 hour days, and if you have a tough time there is only yourself to blame.”

The unit she has at Armley used to be a motorbike workshop and turning a greasy garage into a pretty cake house needed all of the £11,000 she raised in the Crowdfunder.

A new floor had to be put over the old mechanic pits, the whole place was re-wired, then she had to kit it out with commercial sized ovens and stainless steel work spaces.

“I was working in a project management team at Bridgewater Place. It was not something that I wanted to do and I was baking in my free time – and it was taking all of my free time.
“I suppose I had a bit of a mid-life crisis. I was miserable in my job and wasn’t sure why I was doing it and at the time inherited some money from my grandmother who had passed away.”

Sweet treats to be found in Laynes.

That made it possible for Liz to give up work and renovate her kitchen at home. She got a wholesale client after posting her products on Instagram and more followed to the point where her kitchen at home couldn’t cope – which prompted the Crowdfund mission in January.

“I had cafes that I was turning down because I couldn’t take on anymore. That gave me the confidence to expand because I knew there was business out there.”

In addition to three more wholesale clients since January Liz has taken on her first member of staff .

They can help with the wholesale orders while she gets back to doing what she loves most, as well as doing more collaborations with other Leeds independents.

She said: “Being creative is what got me into it originally. The job I was doing – I couldn’t see the benefit in doing it. Whereas with this, I make something and people enjoy it and I like that it is that simple.
“I had no idea it would grow this quickly so the creative side sometimes takes a back seat because I am dealing with the nuts and bolts so I am hoping that I can get back to being more creative again.”

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