Career break is a recipe for success as police officer gets off to flying start with her baking business.
A north-east woman has launched her new baking business to great success, with locals bagging more than 30 boxes of her goods each week.
Alex Cain, who has worked in the force for 20 years and is currently on a career break from Police Scotland, sends out more than 100 bakes every month, with some of her orders seeing her products travel across the UK.
Launching her business, Holy Moly Bakes, only this month, Alex, who is originally from Hartlepool, recently moved to Huntly, Aberdeenshire, where her husband hails from.
Proving a hit locally, Alex’s goodies, which include cookies, baking slabs, brownies and lots more, have been in hot demand since she opened her order book three weeks ago.
She said: “I have spent the past 20 years in the police force in both England and Scotland. In April I began a career break and started a postal bake business making cookies and other treats – and also moved 200 miles north from Scottish Borders to Huntly.
“I needed something to do to keep myself busy during my career break as I didn’t want to sit and do nothing. I have always enjoyed baking and thought it would be a good idea. Everyone had started selling their bakes online and I wondered if I could do the same, and here I am.
“I’m still a police officer, I’m just on a career break and don’t get paid so it will give me a bit of income, too, while I’m on my career break.
“In 2013 I was involved in an incident and suffered from post-traumatic stress. I took restock of my life and now seemed like the right time to take a break as my daughter was away to college in England. My partner is from this neck of the woods (Huntly) so we moved up here. I love it up here.”
Chunky cookies and slabs
Having always had a passion for being creative, it is no surprise baking is one of Alex’s favourite pastimes and she has now turned her love for sweet bakes into a business.
She added: “I’ve always baked and would usually take in bakes for my shift, which a lot of people do. I’ve always done something creative as years ago I used to make soaps and candles. I’ve always done something to keep myself busy.
“The cookies have really developed and that is really where I want to focus more my efforts on. I really enjoy making them and the cranachan flavour, for example, is a flavour I really like. It is a Scottish dessert but I got thinking ‘I wonder if you could make that into a cookie?’. No one else was doing it and it has been very popular.
“I’m getting asked regularly for my Creme Egg ones and there’s other flavours that I love and I’ll just jot them down and keep a note of them. It is all trial and error.
“The black forest gateau has changed now as it is now stuffed with a brownie. I had leftover brownie the other day and squished it all together and thought ‘I’m going to shove that into a cookie’. So I have now made that one better.
“The main battle is making sure I can get the box closed!”
Alex Cain, owner of Holy Moly Bakes
“Filling it with marshmallow I had no idea how it would turn out, but it actually turned out really well as it oozes out and looks quite good.
“My partner has been great in helping me sort out things. I post some to my daughter and my family in the north east of England. A lot of it has really just been making things and giving it to people for feedback.”
Running a business where her friends and family in England could sample her goods was always at the back of Alex’s mind, and selling her goods UK-wide via Etsy has allowed everyone to get a taste of the sweet life.
“Everything is sold via Etsy and anyone in the UK can pop on and purchase anything they like and I just pop it in the post,” said Alex.
“I deliver locally, too, for free in Huntly, and after that I just charge mileage. I’m doing a weekend treat box which is just available locally (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) for now, but I’m hoping to get that available UK-wide.
“The main battle is making sure I can get the box closed! I’ve been making cookie pies and I haven’t been able to get the box closed until recently.”
In order to ensure all of her local customers can get a slice of the action, Alex posts her offering on Instagram weekly so customers can get their orders in before the Friday deadline. Her Etsy shop is open 24/7 and orders are processed immediately.
“If an order comes in through Etsy I tend to make it as soon as it comes in and post it out,” said Alex.
“Once more orders come in through the website I’ll maybe have to change that. At the minute it is my weekend treat boxes which have proved really popular.
“I post on social media at the start of the week what I have for that week, then orders come in and then it is a few days baking and Fridays I get them all out for delivery. It is mainly about being organised and having a cut-off point.
“I’m delivering around 30 boxes per week which I’m quite chuffed with as I’ve only been running the business for a couple of weeks.”
Launching her cookie pie slices, gifts is the next project for Alex who locals will also be able to meet in person when she attends her first farmers’ market which she is currently firming up.
She added: “Gifts is something I’m really interested to explore, the cookie pie and weekend treat boxes is where I’ll focus my efforts. Some people think the slabs are too big, I mean they are big, but because I have no portion control everything either gets cut into a slab or a wedge. There’s nothing small here. Gift brownies are also something I’m developing and launching.
“I’m thinking of attending some local farmers’ markets in the near future, too, so I’m looking forward to that and seeing customers in person.
“I’ll be going back to work after my career break, but this is a great way to keep me busy and creative while I’m off.”