Cake baker rises to new business challenge

City West Housing Trust customer Phil Clemens, 44, from Swinton, has always had ambitions of making it big in the catering industry - but a series of set-backs in his career led him to almost give up.

Having set his heart on his chosen career more than two decades ago, Phil got the taste for catering when he dedicated his time to a two-year Youth Training Scheme which saw him gain experience working in the restaurant of a top Manchester department store.

Sadly, the course was cut short due to funding issues, leaving Phil unable to complete his catering qualification. Not one to give up, Phil went on to undertake a range of catering roles – including working for several schools – but running his own cake decorating business seemed like a pipe dream.

But Phil was given a second chance at his career after spotting an advert promoting City West’s Don’t Keep It Under Your Hat programme he soon began learning about how to run his own cake baking business – Eye Sing on the Cake – and was awarded a £500 start-up grant after delivering a successful ‘Dragon’s Den’ style pitch.

Phil said: “I've spent my entire career trying to make it as a professional caterer, I even once worked at a hotel in Switzerland – but I have never had the opportunity to achieve my dream.

“I had always wanted to work for myself, but I was close to giving up. I can’t believe how my luck has changed – I've now launched my own business and it is booming.”

Over a period of six months, Phil regularly met with our enterprise team to discuss his ideas and formulate a plan to get the firm off the ground.

Phil was taught how to create a business plan, secure financing, and learnt how to promote the business through advertising and social media.

City West also renovated a room in Phil’s house to turn it into a working kitchen, so he can operate his business from home.

“Orders are coming in thick and fast since I completed the course” commented Phil. “I've just received five stars for cleanliness and food hygiene from Salford City Council, and I'm planning to grow my business into a full catering firm in the future – eventually moving into a shop and hiring employees to help me out.

“City West has given me invaluable knowledge on how to turn my dream into reality and pushed me to achieve my goals – without them I would probably still be working temporary jobs. I would tell anyone either struggling to find work or dreaming of becoming their own boss to go on this course.”

Find out more City West's Don't Keep It Under Your Hat programme by watching this short video.