Irish Women In Business: Sandra McGarry Of Pixiedust Cupcakes
For the latest in our series of features focusing on Irish Women in Business, we caught up with Sandra McGarry, owner of Pixiedust Cupcakes in Co. Meath.
Sandra tells us all about how she got involved in this area, why she set the business up in 2013 and her hopes for the future.
What was your background before getting involved in this business?
I am an IT tutor for a Youthreach progression programme in Navan for the past 16 years, so I originally started the business as a weekend job because I loved baking so much and wanted to share it.
Have you always had an interest in this area?
I have always baked, since the age of seven. I took an interest watching baking programmes on TV. I am self-taught by watching baking programmes and I have not done any courses on baking or decorating.
What was the inspiration behind opening your own business?
It is something I always thought about but never had the courage to go out there and do. Myself and my husband had a good chat one weekend about starting a cupcake business. On the Monday, I looked into what was involved setting one up: it took a good bit of research to find what was already being done in the area and how I could be different, and that's how it all began.
What were your goals for the business starting out?
My aim in the beginning was to get a couple of orders a week. After a few weeks I was booked up nearly every weekend! Now, my main goal is to open up a premises including a bakery, a French-style tea room and a classroom to teach children how to bake.
Did you ever expect that this idea would turn into a successful business?
I never believed it would have grown so much in the last two years!
How did you get to the point you are at today?
A lot of hard work. Marketing a lot. Working during the day, baking at night and fitting in family life.
How have you found building up a business from scratch?
It is very tough building the business. Some days, I felt like throwing the towel in because I got so tired from juggling everything. My family is my biggest support and without them, Pixiedust wouldn’t exist. Because it is such a competitive business you have to always be on your game.
I’m hoping the exposure of making it from thousands down to the Final 12 for the Great Irish Bake Off can help me to the level I believe I am at. I'm passionate about looking at what’s new in baking and sugar crafting and always try to offer something different to customers.
What has been the biggest challenge?
As the field is so competitive, I think the biggest challenge was and is keeping customers.
What has been your best moment to date?
I think the best moment of my baking career has been to get into the Great Irish Bake Off. It has given me the confidence to push Pixiedust cupcakes as far as it can go.
What do you think makes your business unique?
My unique flavours. I offer at least 30 flavours of cupcakes to choose from which can also be done with my cakes. Every single order is made with love.
What comes next for you as a businesswoman?
To reach my main goal of the tea room and bakery.
What is the best thing about the work that you do?
The feedback from customers telling you how much they love their cakes and cupcakes. I love to make people smile and I think I do that through my baking.
Do you find being in business more difficult because you are a woman?
No, I don’t think at this stage I have found it challenging as a woman in business, that’s not to say it won’t happen in the future. If it does, I think I am strong enough to face whatever challenge comes to me.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
To never give up. I will only ever stop if I’m told to because of health or my children don’t want me to do this anymore.
What advice you would give to other women hoping to set up a business?
Research as much as you can. Do some marketing to see if your product or business is needed or wanted and go with it!