Nila Holden operates the most fabulous Artisan Bakery from her home in Bedforshire. She specialises in beautiful bohemian inspired cakes and cookies, all with a vintage flavour that would be perfect for a rustic wedding.
I was fortunate enough to meet Nila through Twitter, which is fast becoming my favourite place to make lovely new wedding chums. Nila, like many wedding suppliers, started her business whilst planning her own wedding, so I caught up with her to find out more…
What was your inspiration for starting your business?
I have quite particular tastes, and when sourcing stuff for my wedding I couldn’t find anything I really liked; especially cakes and decor. Also, because my husband to be was English, we wanted stuff that was a nice blend of Asian/European. So, I decided to see if I could make the cakes & cookies myself, which was quite timely as the whole baking buzz was just taking off, so there were classes I attended (I did a couple at the world renowned Squires School) and I taught myself a lot of techniques through online tutorials. We are still waiting to get married but have now set the date and will finally tie the knot in May 2013.
How long have you be operating, and who’s ‘behind the scenes’?
I have been making cakes & cookies for nearly 3 years now, firstly for family, friends & work colleagues. Then in April last year I took redundancy from my job in the public sector and after a few months break started my business in the Autumn of last year. It’s just me – though I have a very supportive hubby to be and family who are always ready to pitch in, for example – cake deliveries to London!
How would you describe your business ethos? What do you hope to achieve?
I aspire to make cookies & cakes that are as beautiful as they are scrumptious. I put a lot of time and energy into thinking about colour and design and tend to think of my cookies and cakes as blank canvases rather than foods items. Over time, I have developed my ‘look’ which is heavily influenced by my love of all things vintage, literary and bohemian. I have many new designs that I am working on and fully expect my work to keep evolving. I have also diversified into paperie (greetings cards, vintage papers) & framed art – I love making things!
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
People have such an emotional response to my work, which always gently surprises me, but it’s so rewarding. They seem to love giving my work as gifts just as much as they like to receive them which is great. I also put a lot of myself into my work which in the main brings together and reflects my own likes, passions and interests. Then when people like and buy my work – it’s kind of like a validation of me.
And the most challenging?
On the flip side, it can be hard to not take it too personally when set backs occur. But I have worked hard to overcome obstacles and make sure that the Nila Holden brand is seen as more than just a ‘food stall’ as one event organiser put it!
I adhere strongly to food hygiene standards and only use the very best ingredients and industry standard edible paints, tints etc. But as I said, I like to see my cookies as blank canvases, which is the starting point of the design process. And sometimes it’s hard to find good quality products that will allow me to achieve the look I am striving for which can be frustrating.
Also, as my cookies don’t look like traditional cookies; I quite often get asked if they are ‘real’ and edible. Quite often they are mistaken for ceramics. So I have recently started putting together a series of online tutorials which will go live on my website in the coming weeks, and I’m attending more events and undertaking demos etc so people can see the skills & techniques that I use – and if they pick up a few tips & tricks along the way that they can use themselves – then so much the better!
I’d like to offer my guests some unique wedding favours… can you help?
Yes, I have a whole range of cookie favours that can be tailored/customised to suit your theme, with a range of vintage colours/designs. And many of my designs include monograms, dates etc so they can be totally personalised.
Can I be assured of the quality of your products? Is everything handmade?
Everything is handmade by me, and all my cakes/cookies are hand baked and decorated by me in my kitchen. All products are shipped as soon as possible after they are baked, thus ensuring freshness and longevity.
Can I find you at any events this year?
I attend the Bath Artisan Market which takes place on the second Sunday of every month. I will be at the Maulden Spring Indulgence event on 1st March and then at the Vintage Wedding Fair in Braintree on 17th March where I’ll be leading a vintage cookie decorating workshop.