Today we are sharing a delicious story about Wendy Morgan’s specialty cakes. After 15 years in the tax office (ATO), through circumstances out of her control, Wendy turned to her hobby and the NEIS program in Rockhampton, where she was introduced to Donna from Many Rivers.
“My husband had a bakery. I was a natural and didn’t need to be taught or anything, I could just do it. It was a hobby really.”
Read on as Wendy shares more about her journey.
Tell us about Cakes by Wendy
They’re only to order and not to sell in a shop front or anything like that. I’ll organise with the client a particular cake they want and it can be in all shapes and sizes.
Officially, it only started in May because there were a few hiccups getting it off the ground, like the food business licence taking longer than they thought it would and silly little things like that.
Wendy’s journey to Cakes By Wendy
I worked 15 years in the tax office (ATO) as an investigative tax auditor but then they decided to close all regional sites in Australia. My husband had died barely 12 months before that and we were to be offered transfers but it was only to capital cities. We had no say when, where or how. The offer came through and they said we could be in Canberra in 7 days or that’s it. We’d be working in a call centre. That was harsh.
I was going to take the job but I’ve got an aged mother living up the coast and need to take care of her as well. I came home and I burst into tears and thought, I can’t pack this house up in 7 days. I hadn’t even packed up my husband’s clothes.
So, I decided to stay but when you’ve been a tax auditor for as long as I had, not many people want to employ you cause of this fear of the ATO. With the economic climate, I couldn’t get a job, not even in Coles or Woolworths.
But the whole time I worked in tax, I baked cakes. My husband had a bakery. I was a natural and didn’t need to be taught or anything, I could just do it. It was a hobby really. I stopped making them when my husband got sick though because I couldn’t handle two jobs when I had to look after him.
It became the only option and so I decided I would start the cakes again but I understood the lead-time I would need. When I started making wedding cakes I would be lucky to do one cake every two months. Every cake you do, you spawn a few more but they’re really 6 to 12 months down the track. I knew I was going to be in a tight spot so that’s why I went to the NEIS program to set up under them.
What motivated Wendy
Mostly my circumstances. I was pretty despondent. I had applied for so many jobs that I was qualified for but I couldn’t even get through to an interview. The tax office shut August or September 2014. I’d bounced in and out of a couple of jobs and for most of that time I wasn’t even on unemployment benefits. I’d never been unemployed so at the start I couldn’t even bring myself to walk through the Centrelink doors. I had no money left and I didn’t know how I could start back in business without any money because it requires quite a bit by the time you pay for insurances, licences and equipment.
I needed funding and because I had no job there was no way I could get any bank funding. I maxed out all my credit cards. And there entered Many Rivers and got me out of a bind.
Probably getting my name out there. I could have done with a bit more money to undertake the advertising but I wasn’t able to, so now it’s just a case of doing the social networking and marketing to get people to realise I’m doing cakes.
I think it was getting me off the unemployment and making me feel good about myself.
My positive attitude. I dare say I was borderline depressed before and I think that has completely disappeared so there’s been a lot of positive changes in me. I feel like I’ve got purpose again.
What would you like the future to look like?
A very successful business and ultimately, one that employs a couple of staff. At the moment the biggest drawback is that I’m spending a lot of time cleaning up after myself. A lot of the time I should be spending interacting with people and marketing my business, I’m spending it doing all the grunt work. I could have a junior do that and free me up to grow the business so that would be one of the ultimate goals. I know everyone has to crawl before they walk and before they run, but I’m getting there.
How has Many Rivers helped?
Mentoring and help with my recordkeeping. All of it really! Probably having Donna as a sounding board and just as a backup. It makes you feel like you’re not in this alone and that there’s someone who can help you if you need it. And the money I suppose. Donna really helped me with the paperwork to get there and made everything so simple.
I’m doing it on a very tight budget so I didn’t really want to have to go to Xero or MYOB or any cloud accounting software because it’s a monthly amount that I don’t know I can afford at this point. Many Rivers provided me with a simple Recordkeeping Kit and a lot of little things that have been really helpful.
Getting a $5,000 loan
I had to buy the oven and some furniture for the client area where people come in so that I could have a place to display cakes and that kind of thing. A cake decorator needs a huge amount of tools and equipment as well. There’s so many things used. I got a drop saw and a band saw as well. Cake decorating is more engineering than anything else. You have to cut out baseboards for what size you’ve agreed to make for your clients.
And of course, it also helped allow me to get my food business licence, my insurance and all that up and running.
Thank you Wendy for sharing your story and your delicious cakes with everyone in the area. If you are in Rockhampton, Queensland, and interested in ordering some delicious treats then visit Cakes by Wendy or follow Cakes By Wendy 2 on Facebook, she has an amazing 6.4 thousand followers.
To contact Wendy for information on pricing and orders, please email her at [email protected]
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