Carly developed a passion for baking when she was on maternity leave with her first daughter and had an idea to develop bespoke wedding cakes for couples who are looking for something a bit different.

“When setting up my business I was looking for direction in every aspect; finance, branding, market research, what exactly I was going to offer, pricing, writing a business plan and just generally having the courage to leave my full time work to fully invest in this business.

“The Princes Trust programme gave me all of that, in the form of workshops, someone on the other end of the email and a personal mentor who I met with regularly.”

After taking part in the Enterprise programme Carly established her business in 2017 and has been a finalist in the NI Wedding Awards for the past three years. However when the country went into lockdown due to Covid 19 bookings came to an abrupt halt.

“Weddings were being cancelled or postponed to the following year which meant balances that were due in the coming weeks and months would not be paid so the cash flow for the business stopped.

“Ingredients that I had would go out of date and specific items that were bought to complete wedding orders over the summer months would not be used. I didn’t have any extra money that could be used to diversify what I was offering to continue my business and work smarter.”

Carly applied to The Prince’s Trust and Natwest Enterprise Relief Fund for a grant to support her with business costs while she was unable to trade.

“The Enterprise Relief Fund came at a great time; it really was a beacon of hope as all other forms of financial aid for businesses were not applicable to me or weren’t going to be available any time soon.

“I received £1400 and have used the money to adapt my business by taking it online and offering cake samples by post.  I have been able to put all information relating to ordering a wedding cake on my new website so this eases the pressure of having a face to face consultation like I normally would and has made the information more accessible to prospective clients. I have also been able to commission new packaging for cake samples to be delivered to allow couples to still have a tasting session at home.

“I am so grateful to have received this grant as it has saved this small business from being in a very delicate position and closing permanently. Without being able to diversify in the way that I have, I wouldn’t have been able to reach any more potential clients or been able to compete with others in the industry offering the same level of service. It has taken a huge weight off my shoulders and given me hope and joy that I will be able to continue creating and being part of lots more wedding days. 

“I would absolutely recommend the Prince's Trust to others. The support, encouragement and dedication of the team have been invaluable to me and the growth of my business and for that I am so thankful.”