Case Study – Elvira’s Secret Pantry

Case study

Elvira’s Secret Pantry shared their story of how they started the micro-bakery dedicated to making bespoke and ‘free-from’ sweet and savoury delights.

Describe what Elvira’s Secret Pantry is all about

Elvira’s Secret Pantry is a micro-bakery dedicated to making bespoke and ‘free-from’ sweet and savoury delights – gluten-free, dairy-free, yeast-free as well as vegan.

“I love the freedom of the job though it’s very tiring when you manage all aspects of the business yourself.”

How did Elvira Secret Pantry come about and what gave you the inspiration to start the business?

I was working in the high-end art world before launching Elvira’s Secret Pantry back in 2012. I found baking to be the ideal escape from the day-to-day stresses of my demanding job and was always trying out new recipes in my spare time (that’s what you do when love baking but are intolerant to gluten and dairy).

What training or experience did you gain to help start the business?

The first step towards transforming my passion into a business was a council-run course, where I learnt the ins and outs of setting up a food business. Elvira’s Secret Pantry began life as a market stall in south east London, and over the next few months and years, the business grew organically.

What advice would you give to new traders starting out?

Once you know what kind of business you want to open, be determined and focussed in pursuing your goals. Stay positive and embrace opportunities with an open mind.

Also, a support system is crucial in the baking business. Opening a business is time-consuming. Time spent baking is only half the commitment. You’ll need to market your business, take orders, help customers, and do an array of administrative tasks. Whether it’s your family, a colleague, or business mentor, you need someone in your corner.

How have you grown the business?

From selling at market stalls I soon started receiving wholesale orders from coffee shops, restaurants and independent retailers. At the same time, I started selling my products online and cater for private events. I put the popularity of my fare down to a simple approach of using seasonal, organic and additive-free ingredients. The latest addition to Elvira’s Secret Pantry comes in the form of cooking classes.

What type of events do you cater for?

Private parties, public events like Wimbledon Championship and BBC Proms amongst others.

“I always try to use seasonal produce which is sourced locally and ethically. Which means I am constantly looking for small independent producers.”

What are the challenges and conversely, opportunities your business faces?

I love the freedom of the job though it’s very tiring when you manage all aspects of the business yourself. I am passionate about the bakes I create, and the happiness of customers is simply priceless. However, because of the nature of the business, you are working 24/7, which is not only exhausting but also makes seeing friends and family difficult.

How much preparation goes into an event?

Every event is bespoke so there is no general rule on how to do things. The most important thing is to be very organised and plan ahead as much as possible. Generally speaking, I normally need at least 72 hours’ notice as I need to source ingredients, bake and plan delivery.

“F&Q will help promote the amazing array of products I have to offer thanks to their marketing skills and expertise”

Where do you source your produce?

I always try to use seasonal produce which is sourced locally and ethically. Which means I am constantly looking for small independent producers.

How could Feast and Quench help a business like yours?

Being a small business with a tiny budget for marketing available, I hope F&Q will help promote the amazing array of products I have to offer thanks to their marketing skills and expertise.