Scone baking hobby proves to be super sweet solution after COVID stopped woman's event business plans
In less than a year a Kat Fisk has launched a scone baking business, moved into The Tetley, launched an online shop and fulfilled orders for customers as far away as Malaysia.
It certainly isn't what the 40-year-old expected when she left her job working in university alumni relations to start an events company in 2020.
Because as the coronavirus pandemic hit and the UK went into lockdown, it meant there could be no events and subsequently, no events business.
She reverted to her hobby of baking scones to keep her busy and from then on, a business idea was also rising.
Mrs Fisk, of Chapel Allerton said: "I left my job and COVID happened and thought 'riigghht'. I started baking to keep me occupied. My auntie bakes scone and I have always done it and used to make them for Christmas. I sent them to her and people as gifts and a friend of mine asked if she could order some to send to her mum. I said 'fine' and didn't think anything of it.
"I used to take a lot to my running club at Horsforth Fell and Dale runners, when we could train again, and I had been sharing images and posts of what I had made and people started to like them and I thought 'I will give it a go'.
"I love a scone and I don't think there are many people that don't love a scone. I find mixing them quite therapeutic. I think people like them because they are a mix of sweet or savoury. They are effectively a quick bake bread and you can make whatever flavour you like."
She set a target date to launch The Little Yorkshire Scone Company on August 1 - Yorkshire Day - and set about getting the necessary food hygiene, legal and insurance paperwork in place.
That said, it was a sweet delicacy in America that gave Mrs Fisk the idea for her products that stretch far beyond your average currant or cheese scone - the latter, she admits, is still her absolute favourite.
"I used to travel to the US for work and ate them there, and they are totally different. They are iced, made with yoghurt and that inspired my to try different flavours and toppings. Some are recipes that I have got and tweaked to be how I like, what I think other people will like, or my husband Mark thinks will taste nice. He tries a lot of scones.
"I also get ideas from other things. I did a chocolate and ginger one at Christmas which I tried because my late father used to love chocolate and ginger sweets, I did a lemon and ginger one for the new year because it is quite soothing.
"They don't always work the first time. A sticky toffee pudding scone is my nemesis. It is my husband's favourite dessert and I have tried 15 different versions but just haven't got it yet. One attempt I put too much toffee in and it ended up like a pancake, but there must be a way."
When Mrs Fisk launched she had a steady stream of orders but it was interest from tourist body, Welcome To Yorkshire, and a review on the BBC Good Food pages which saw the business rise to another level.
It then became apparent that the kitchen in the basement of her house was not big enough to operate the business from as she could only make batches of ten scones at a time and it wasn't enough to keep up with demand. She was put in touch with The Tetley gallery in the city centre, which happened to have professional kitchen space available and wanted to support a start up creative business.
Adam Roe, head of development and engagement at The Tetley said: "We’re delighted to welcome The Little Yorkshire Scone Company to The Tetley. Kat’s is a real success story, despite the challenges of a global pandemic she has been able to develop a thriving business which now joins a long list of other local, independent creatives who call The Tetley home and that’s something we’re very proud to be able to support.
"Providing emerging creative businesses like The Little Yorkshire Scone Company with the space to grow and build their brand sits at the heart of our ambition to create a thriving artistic and cultural community right here in Leeds. We look forward to seeing how The Little Yorkshire Scone Company grows over the coming months."
The Little Yorkshire Scone Company moved to The Tetley in March which capped off a whirlwind year for the baking businesswoman.
Mrs Fisk added: "Given that it has not even been going a year and I have moved to The Tetley, launched an online shop to manage the orders and have had orders from America, Australia, Malaysia - it is bonkers."
Going forward she is hoping to bake for and host afternoon and cream tea events and develop a scone wedding cake, but, admits even she didn't think people loved scones this much.
"It is not at all what I expected. I thought people liked a scone but not this much. Working in events and alumni, part of that is meeting inspiring people and that helps to motivate you.
"It is something I always talked about, 'I want to run a hotel, a B&B, a business and I was going to do that but COVID forced me into a different direction. I didn't have anything to lose, put everything into it and have been very fortunate."
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