Irish Women in Business: Michelle Darmody of The Cake Café and SLICE
For the latest in our series of editorials focusing on Irish Women in Business, we’re talking to Michelle Darmody of The Cake Café and SLICE.
The Cake Café, which stretches from Camden Street to Pleasants Place, is a haven of delicious treats including cakes, coffees and wine.
We caught up with founder Michelle to talk about the idea behind and development of her scrumptious but sustainable business…
I grew up in a family with a keen interest in food and how it is made. There was always bread going into the oven and buns coming out. When I set up The Cake Café I wanted to replicate these smells and cakes from our kitchen at home. That is why I focused on good quality home-baking, using the fresh and simple ingredients that my mother used - free range eggs and real Irish butter, no additives at all.
After graduating from Art College I went travelling for a few years. I had always waitressed and worked in kitchens throughout college and I found myself using these skills as a means to pay for my next trip. When I returned I decided to employ myself and food was the obvious choice. I set up The Cake Café in 2006 and wanted to support Irish food producers and showcase good quality local ingredients.
My aim was to create a lifestyle that I enjoyed and a business that I was proud of but I didn’t expect to have the success I’ve had. I was winging it a little and our location is quite hard to find which was a bit of a risk. But I worked hard at letting people know where we were and created healthy, tasty food for people to eat. I had not expected it to get as busy so quickly.
Building the business up from the ground has been all about hard work, surrounding myself with a great team of colleagues and keeping a good eye on accounts.
As for a normal working day, it completely depends on the time of the week. Early in the week I tend to take time at home to write my article for the Irish Examiner, to catch up on emails and plan the week ahead. Later in the week is much busier as cake orders flood in for parties at the weekend and we often have a catering event that needs to be organised. So no, there is no normal but most days are pretty full. SLICE opened in 2014 in Stoneybatter and that has helped fill my days up even more.
The biggest challenge is never being able to stand still. Business always has to move. The consistently rising costs from Local Government is difficult to deal with as well.
On the other side, the high points, reading about The Cake Café in Vogue was pretty cool. I also love that so many friendships have been built up through the cafes. Staff members have formed what are becoming lifelong friendships and it is nice to know you were a small part in that.
I would hope that the personality that we put into the business sets us apart from the rest. We all strive to make every customer happy and for them to leave with a great opinion of us.
What comes next for me as a businesswoman? A holiday!