Online bakery brand, No Guilt Bakes

Maya Harruna and Taeya Abdel-Majeed explain the journey behind their no-fault online bakery brand, No Guilt Bakes.

What is your business about?

My company, No Guilt Bakes, is an award-winning online bakery specializing in tasty, sweet and savory cake essentials with SugarWise certification “No added sugar,” low in carbs and gluten, making them perfect for diabetics , gluten intolerant, health conscious and people on a keto / low carb diet.

Tell us the story behind your business?

My cousin Taeya and I both lost 40kg between following a ketogenic diet. We both loved desserts, chocolate, and candy, and struggled to find sugar-free, sugar-compatible snacks that tasted as good as the sugar-laden originals. So we decided to make it our own.

Our friends, family and colleagues enjoyed them so much that they started asking us if the sweets were available to buy, and No Guilt Bakes was born.

No Guilt Bakes is our first foray into entrepreneurship and although Taeya has an extremely demanding full time career in finance and I am currently completing a very demanding degree in law conversion, we have managed to build a successful business that it generated over £ 100,000 in the first year of operation which we have since doubled.

Headquartered in the heart of East London, we launched the business in November 2019, just before the first confinement. Initially, we were cooking in the home kitchen, but the demand for our range of cakes without added sugar exploded and our humble oven could not meet the demand, and within a few months of launch we had to move in a commercial kitchen.

What sets you apart from your competition?

There are very few sweets available on the market that have a low glycemic impact, making it difficult for British consumers to find products that do not contain added sugar but do not have an impact on blood sugar levels.

What sets No Guilt Bakes apart from our competition is that we use sweeteners that don’t raise blood sugar levels, even though they taste good.

Taste and texture are key to what No Guilt Bakes stands out for. Before we launched we spent six months trying recipes, because it was important for us that our cakes could be enjoyed by everyone, and not just for people who are trying to be healthier. Last year, our cakes received a Nourish Award: Nourish is the UK’s leading healthy eating award for foods, beverages and supplements that offer a healthier choice.

How do you spread your business?

When we launched, we were selling to friends and family, so word of mouth was key to our initial growth.

Social media has also been critical to our development and growth, as they helped us raise awareness of the brand organically, and we are fortunate to have a lot of repeated customization.

We then took advantage of Google Ads to maximize exposure and drive sales.

How has the business been during the Covid-19 pandemic?

Before the pandemic, our growth strategy focused on food markets, gyms and cafes. However, the confinement stopped our plans and by the end of March sales were falling sharply and we were left questioning the future of the business.

Many companies were affected by the pandemic, but the ability to adapt to uncertain and changing circumstances is really the difference between “swimming or sinking.” We re-evaluated our approach and focused our attention on digital businesses and became an online-only business.

We were very lucky. After the initial turmoil, the change made as a result of the confinement benefited the business significantly, increasing turnover by 600%.

How do you see the evolution of your market over the next few years?

The health and wellness industry is one of the fastest growing sectors, by 2020 the UK market had an estimated value of £ 23 billion and is expected to continue to grow at a rate of 6.4%. Since the pandemic, a growing number of people are becoming more health-conscious and adopting healthier alternatives to their usual favorites.

As a result, we expect to see the “no-added” sugar cake market grow. According to research by Harris Interactive, interest in keto has grown, and Internet interest in the term has tripled. Therefore, we predict that the keto trend will continue to grow as the British look for effective ways to lose their blocking weight gain.

What is the hardest part about running a business?

Not having enough hours a day! Taeya has a full time job and my law course is extremely demanding, so it never seems like we have enough time to do it all.

No Guilt Bakes is our first business and since we decided to start the business, we took a very practical approach and had to learn on the fly. There is so much to learn, and learning never stops!

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced?

Finding the right manufacturer has been one of the biggest challenges we have faced. Demand for cakes continues to grow, and several retailers have shown interest in our range.

It has been a challenge to find a suitable manufacturer on the scale we need, because our cakes are not made with the typical ingredients rich in carbohydrates and sugars.

What is the best decision you have made so far?

The best decision we made was to change our business plan once the lock came, and we turned around to become an online-only business. The decision not to wait for the confinement to be lifted in order to resume our original strategy ensured that our business grew by 600% and made our business stand out among UK retailers and international importers.

If you could go back and change something, what would it be?

As a fully self-funded start-up, we need to be extremely aware of our exits. We worked with several companies that had a great reputation and made many promises that they ultimately failed to fulfill. It was an expensive lesson to learn, and if we could go back in time, we definitely wouldn’t have worked with them.

What has been your most proud success to date?

Receive an email from a buyer from a known and established retailer five months after launch, requesting a list of our products. I cried as soon as I read the email.

It was the confirmation that our product was no longer a small, niche product, and the big players were waking up to the market gap of tasty unsweetened sugar products.

What hopes do you have for your business in the next five years?

Global domination. In view of this, we are currently talking to several retailers and look forward to seeing our product range on the shelves of the UK’s largest retailers.

We would like No Guilt Bakes to become a household name and be the benchmark brand for Britons looking for a tasty and healthier low carb alternative.

Made in Britain: Online bakery brand, No Guilt Bakes

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