Ready, set, bake. Yes, it’s August in sunny Britain and that can only mean one thing. We’re ready for a new season of the Bake Off to commence on our small screens in living rooms up and down the country. Timely then, that the Eloquently Her team get a request to interview someone who actually put herself in contention for a slot on the show, ended competing on the Professional version of it, and is now dreaming of a business surrounded by chocolate.
LAURE Moyle and I are talking about Ed Sheeran, The Bake-Off, and what an Alice in Wonderland style Chocolate Art School might look like.
It’s a rather eclectic conversation to say the least, but one which has you inescapably fascinated at the energy and journey of this engaging Franglaise cake fanatic.
Mum of two, Laure is a charismatic entrepreneur who possesses a wonderful French charm, combined with some incredibly blunt and bold Britishness.
She calls herself the ‘Chief Pudding Fairy’ in her professional world, and believes that for every cake and creation she painstakingly produces, she’s ‘making the magic happen’, in honour of someone’s birthday, celebration, or even in times of comfort.
It’s certainly not a business she might have seen herself entering into some five years ago.
Back then, she’d spent the majority of her life in digital marketing, had been a full-time British resident since leaving France in 1997, and could so easily have kept on with the daily grind of a fiercely demanding job.
“I did really love what I did in digital marketing, creating a better customer experience, but I started to reflect more on the fact that my work-family life balance wasn’t right,” she says.
“A change of career seemed to be the way to address this, and to allow me to pursue my passion.”
It had been in the midst of the incredibly long days of commuting and digital expertise that Laure increasingly began to turn to baking as a ‘down time’ hobby of choice.
Indeed, as well as ploughing herself into baking and making for friends and family at the weekends, she’d even gone so far as to apply for the Bake Off.
“As I got into baking, I discovered that I’d got a very unique approach which my friends and family really loved,” she said.
“It was calling on some of my French heritage, so incorporating French patisserie with British inspired designs.
“I’m someone who loves the creativity surrounding the British lifestyle – the Sussex countryside, those amazingly opulent landmarks like the Brighton Pavilion, Leighton House in London or the V&A…. where I can happily spend hours losing myself.
“It was this kind if inspiration which set apart the kind of cakes I was doing as birthday treats for loved ones, and the more and more I was doing, the better I got.
“In the end, several people encouraged me to put in for the Bake Off, and I even got through to one of the latter rounds in a recent series, but not to the final cut.”
TV stardom notwithstanding, Laure still found the confidence and courage to throw in the towel on her full-time role, and to seek a new entrepreneurial road.
Three years ago, having carried out what she refers to as ‘extensive playground research’, she decided to set up Pudding Fairy.
“The time just felt right for me to give it my best shot,” she recalls.
“My last job was becoming bigger and bigger, with a lot of global emphasis, and heavier demands all the time.
“I loved it, but I also had an eight year old and a six year old to think about, and I didn’t want them continuing to grow up in a way that meant they were seeing very little of me.
“In the end, I ignored all the advice about taking time to think it through, and perhaps setting up the cake business as a ‘side hustle’. I decided just to get on and do it, and throw everything at making it a success.”
Cake talent and corporate contacts combined, to ensure that within very little time of the launch, Laure was able to secure some strong early-stage contracts and opportunities.
Businesses she’d worked with on the digital marketing side of her life, and parents who were now getting to see her at the school gate again – all were interested in what she was doing and were quick to request creations.
“I started out very much focusing on the things I felt people wanted or expected from the cake world – predominantly novelty cakes covered in sugarpaste,” she says, cringing.
“It wasn’t me. Soon enough I got to the point where it was making me feel really uncomfortable accepting orders which just left me cold, and which meant there was no joy in what I was being asked to do.
“After all – that’s not why you go into running your own business, is it?”
Trusting her feminine intuition, Laure turned her attention to chocolate.
Her yearning, was to intertwine chocolate art with traditional French patisserie – laced with a little of what she calls ‘English personality’.
It was a bold move that was certainly to set her apart, and, as good fortune has it, would prove to be very much a mix of ‘winning ingredients’.
“This became my niche, and meant that I was finding love for what I was doing too,” she beams.
“I think what works so well about having something with more specialist techniques as your USP is that these days, more people know about baking – thanks to the many TV programmes – and so their expectations and ideas have increased.”
She continues: “The type of people who order from me tend to either share a dislike of sweet fondant icing with my similar view, or have a real love for chocolate, or want an amazing unique show piece cake for their event and enjoy the style of cakes I design.
“I guess a lot of them are fans of baking shows like Bake Off.
“Creating the dream ‘cake wishes’ of my customers makes my business more exciting and pushes me to better my skills with chocolate all the time.”
Excitement comes in many and varied forms for Laure’s business these days.
She’s no stranger to taking calls from celebrities – or their pals – who have spotted her unique proposition and want to put her skills to work.
She’s very recently created a rather special cake for Ed Sheeran no less, and there are a host of other names for whom she’s delivered artistic creations.
She’s also loving the fact that her newest ‘course’ offering is taking off, and allowing her to share her exceptional chocolate creativity skills.
“I absolutely love doing the chocolate decoration masterclasses,” she says.
“I get so excited sharing my knowledge with people and seeing them enjoy the learning.
“I’ve been running classes on the Goodwood Estate and the magical TwoWoods Estate near Pulborough. They’ve been going so incredibly well that I’m now determined to push forward with my greatest ambition of all.”
“I really want to develop a Chocolate Art School,” she says, coming alive with the mere thought. “I’m determined to make it happen.”
“The first classes have led in to a few chocolate art retreats, and now I want to move to having a dedicated venue where people can lose themselves in learning the techniques all day every day.
“I close my eyes and think about how it will be, and it’s a kind of Alice in Wonderland style place, all about learning to create fun and gorgeous Patisserie and chocolate creations yourself.
“In a lot of cases, they look so much more impressive than they are to make. The main thing you need is someone to show you and give you that little bit of confidence that you can do it.”
It’s certainly a world away from the 5.30am commutes and the world of digital marketing she found herself immersed in until just a few short years ago.
It’s been rewarding, fun, exciting, but never entirely straightforward.
“Due to a change of circumstances recently, I have had to re assess the growth strategy of Pudding Fairy,” she says.
“The Chocolate Art School will happen, but it’s likely to be a longer term plan.
“For now I have other more immediate financial needs. As a result I am taking a limited amount of bespoke commissions going forward, and developing a small range of chocolate project kits you’ll soon be able to buy online to create your own chocolate art at home.”
Now, at 46, she’s a Mum of a 13 and an 11 year old, driving forward an evolving business, and has eyes on an even greater goal.
Does she think she’s taken on too much? Does she ever wish for an ‘easier life’?
“No, not in the slightest,” she laughs.
“Every day I wake up and feel glad I’ve made this decision.
“Things change in your life all the time, and I think you have to take the opportunity to embrace change and find ways to keep challenging yourself and accomplishing new goals.
“I hope I’m making my children proud that I’m determined to develop something so unique.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing how the future unfolds.”
For more information about Laure’s business and her workshops, go to www.puddingfairy.com
For a limited time only, Laure is offering Eloquently Her readers a discount of 13% of any chocolate class/retreat booked by 30th september 2018