We Learn How Wakefield Baker Nikki Lumb Creates Beautiful Flower Cupcakes
Receiving a bouquet of flowers always makes us smile, but when they look beautiful and taste good too, that's gifting on a whole new level
Like many of us during lockdown Nikki took to baking to fill some of the extra time she had, and became really interested in the different designs she could make on cupcakes with buttercream. ‘I came across images on Instagram and saw a few Youtube videos of normal piping on cupcakes, and there was an odd one which could have resembled a flower. I ordered some different piping nozzles and started messing about and soon began baking every week. I got the bug!’ she explains.
Initially baking gifts for her friends, Nikki recalls the reactions she received. ‘My friends would always say “you need to sell these, I’ve never seen anything like it”.’ But Nikki had never considered starting a business and had a full-time job as an implementation specialist for O2, which she’d been doing for 23 years. After looking into the requirements to start her own business, Nikki took the plunge and launched Hey Up Cupcake at the end of July 2020. ‘I set up my Instagram and Facebook pages and they went bonkers. There were a few local ladies who ordered and it spread from there,’ she says. ‘I’ve had to change my hours at work to accommodate it a bit more and I just get up at 5am to do orders. I initially thought that when everybody got their life back people wouldn’t be ordering as much, but it’s just got busier and busier.’
As someone who loves real flowers, takes pride in her garden and has a good knowledge of the different species, Nikki now crafts a range of flower-inspired cupcake bouquets for her customers. ‘If I like a colour combination or a certain flower I will try and replicate it, especially for weddings. I will always ask the bride if they can send me pictures of their wedding bouquet or their bridesmaid dresses for me to get an idea, so that I can try and match it as much as possible and recreate similarities in the colours and the actual flowers,’ she says.
Nikki has been inundated with requests for wedding cupcake arrangements and had the help of her fiancé, who was originally a joiner, to make up a special stand. ‘He built me a wooden tree as a cupcake stand with branches coming off which the cupcakes sit on. A lot of weddings now are quite rustic and vintage and it’s so fitting for that. As soon as I put pictures of the tree [on social media], I had so many wedding orders and I’m booked up right through August,’ she says.
Nikki’s beautiful cake bouquets look incredibly realistic and attract attention from across the UK and further afield. Nikki has also started getting requests for lessons. ‘Customers asked if I did any tutorials or any teaching online to show them how to create the flowers. Initially I was reluctant, but did a couple of classes and really enjoyed it. They were about two or three hours where we went through my buttercream recipe, how to pipe and how to create certain flowers, plus you get a box of six cupcakes which you’ve created to take home,’ says Nikki.
Now with business booming, Nikki is teaching others once a week. ‘I didn’t anticipate or plan to do this but it was through organic growth and people being so interested in what I’m doing that it’s taken off. People come from Scotland, Dublin and there are a few from Belfast coming in August for a class, and I would say 60 to 70 percent of people who come are doing it because they want to pick up a hobby, although there have been others who want to set up a side hustle like I have.’
When it comes to how long one of her creations takes, Nikki explains it’s more about the detail of the design than the time. ‘I get asked all the time how long it takes to make them but to say exactly would be impossible. I do my baking the day before and make my buttercream once a week (which is enough for a few hundred cupcakes) and because I don’t add milk or cream and use real butter it means I can prep loads in advance,’ she says. ‘Prep and being really organised is key. If I start piping at five or six in the morning before work, I could probably pipe a bouquet in half an hour – I’m quick at piping, but it depends on the design for the order.
‘At the moment I’m happy with where the business is at and I’m not pushing to open a shop. If anything I’m settled with how it is because I have no intention of leaving my job with O2. It’s also nice to be able to pass on things I’ve learnt the hard way to those who want to start a side business. There is plenty of space out there for all of us and I’m enjoying sharing that advice and giving people the confidence to try a new skill.’
I would say a peony.
Favourite cake flavour?
I love vanilla.
Best thing about what you do?
I think the flexibility and being able to meet so many people on my doorstep which is lovely because working from home for my main job then baking can be quite isolating.
How do you like to relax?
We love going away on small breaks, walking the dogs and socialising.