Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Meet the Maker: Sarah Kerley of Kerley’s Cookie and Canape Creations

Feast your eyes on these!
You should know that the maker of these little beauties, does indeed sell them. I thought it was important to get that out there. Well, it would be a shame not to share these with the world, right? As hard as it is, lets move on from oogling these amazing bakes and meet the maker.

As we settle for our interview we must first ask two very important questions.

Tea or coffee?
It depends on the time of day! I can never get started in the morning without my brew (PG Tips all the way – white, no sugar) but as an ex-teacher, to dismiss coffee in favour of tea also lacks foresight – you never know who or what you’ve had to put up with before that 10.30 bell which often only coffee can fix!

Biscuit or cake?
Cake – which is ironic based on what I do, but there’s a very obvious reason. Cakes are soft, squidgy and gooey. Biscuits are crunchy…which in my book is all wrong! My business is based around a gooey, moist, soft cookie that simply melts in your mouth! Top of the list is lemon drizzle cake, closely followed by chocolate fudge.

So, tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Sarah Kerley, 27years old, wife and mum from Longstanton. I was a teacher for 5 years – 3 years in Sussex and then 2 years in a leadership role in a large school in Cambridgeshire before I became a mummy. My business name is “Kerley’s Cookie and Canape Creations” which is very new and is therefore blog-less / website– less at present, but I’m currently operating by word-of-mouth which really has a nice cottagey feel to it!

What is your craft?
Home baked, individually hand crafted chocolate delicacies.

How long have you been baking and how did you learn? 
I’ve always baked – initially taught by my mum as a 5 year old child and then self-taught from a collection of carefully chosen recipe books once I left home! I’ve always loved it and this is how I came to set up in business as a producer of food.

When did you start Kerley’s Cookie and Canape Creations and why?
My business began when I decided not to go back to my teaching job after becoming a Mum in March 2012. I was in a very fortunate position of having a very contented baby and found that I had a bit of extra time on my hands each day. I asked my husband how I could fill these couple of hours as the baby slept, and he suggested trying to improve on my cooking hobby, being adventurous, branching out into new things and trying new ideas. One day, I found a new cookie recipe and made it. It wasn’t quite to my liking but I thought it had potential to be a family winner, so I changed a few things, added a “secret ingredient” and out popped a gorgeous, gooey, double-choc cookie. My friend came round for coffee and as they were just out of the oven I gave her one, and the response was something along the lines of “woah, these are amaaazing! I would pay good money for one of these!” So this was my moment when I thought – well, people who craft are just living out a hobby – why don’t I try and sell a few? So I went to my first craft fair not knowing what to expect and sold out! Everyone’s response was the same – “These are really good, but not expensive” (I charge 79p per large cookie at craft fairs, 30p per cookie for bulk orders). I chose not to charge the earth for them, as it’s just a hobby I want to share with others. If they love them enough to shell out a few pennies on them – well it makes me feel amazing! The whole thing started as “Kerley’s Cookie Creations” and then someone at a fair said “They’d be good as a nibble at a corporate event or a fashion show – why don’t you branch out and do different flavours as well as a canapé style cookie?” Then “Kerley’s Canape Creations” emerged – the idea that a simple cookie can actually be a sophisticated and interesting sweet canapé – a focal point for any social event, be it party, office, wedding, christening or the like. I nervously attended my first wedding fair (see pictures attached) with a chocolate themed canapé selection and it went down a storm. The idea is that actually, contrary to what other businesses were suggesting at the wedding fair, feeding your guests does not have to be expensive. If you have an evening event and have already paid the earth for a sit down meal why not get your waiters simply to float around with chocolate canapés for your guests to choose from. They are yummy, moreish, sophisticated and they are cheap – yet they don’t look it. The reason they are cheap is that I just love this new lease of life, love what I’m doing and don’t see the word “wedding” as an excuse to add a huge price tag. So I charge what it costs to make plus a little extra to ensure I am not in the red on petrol, packaging and oven running costs.

What about the item that you are sharing with us? 
I would like to share with you a heart shaped choc chip cookie, fresh from the oven - perfect for sharing! This is the plate of sweet chocolate canapes that kicked off the wedding orders in the Autumn of 2011 and made me realise there was so much more that I could do with my business than selling a simple Millie's style cookie at my local craft fair. So, whilst the business actually started with a double choc chip cookie (My most popular creation by far in the form of a dark chocolate flavour in a rich but moist, gooey cookie dough, yet as you bite through, you experience the crunch of large white, milk and dark chocolate pieces. The perfect contrast in a mouth melting dough!), the adaptation of that cookie - a plain vanilla or almond cookie covered in chocolate like the one you see in the picture fits better with a sophisticated platter of sweet treats for a wedding reception.

What inspires and motivates you?
I’m inspired by success, a sense of achievement and a sense of purpose. I’m motivated to do what I do because my baby was an amazing gift and I feel really privileged to be at home with him, but before him I thrived in a stressful job where I organised teams and dealt with problems all day whilst trying to teach to a high level and achieve great things with amazing children, so I need a little bit of that in my life to ensure I don’t get that rusty housewife feeling – I’d be lost without a sense of purpose, success and achievement. Meanwhile I don’t want to lose that feeling of loving being at home with my little boy, so need something a little bit extra to do to fill an spare moments and earn some pennies of my own for that sense of satisfaction! Having a phone call from someone putting in an order for 50 cookies for a child’s birthday party the next day gives me a brilliant feeling, a target to meet (if you’ve ever worked in a school you know you live for these!) and gives me even more drive to spend quality time with my little man when he’s awake because whilst he’s slept I’ve been fulfilling a dream!

Do you have a crafting space?
Yes – my kitchen!

So can we join you in your virtual world?
I have a Facebook page. My contact details are, email – sarah@kerley.co.uk; mobile - 07709828674

 Finally, some quick fire questions that we are dying to know the answers to.

Favourite colour? 
Turquoise / Aqua

The best season? 
Spring – it’s full of hope and expectation!

Your favourite food?
Roast Leg of Lamb – and of course Kerley’s cookies – cherry and almond flavour win for me!

The best day of the week?
Sunday

What is the best word? 
Family

Favourite place? 
As a child, I made a very important discovery in the woods beside my parents’ house where I used to walk my dog. Near a lake was a large clump of trees. If you clawed your way into the middle, they opened up beautifully to create a sort of perch / seat from a criss-cross of branches. As far as I knew nobody else ever found it / knew it was there, and I could sit and dream or read for hours looking over a lake and nobody other than my dog would know I was there! It was an amazing, dreamy place which I named “Thinking Clump”!

Your biggest achievement?
Having my beautiful baby boy.

Anything else we should know?
Kerley's Cookie Creations........The Melt in the Mouth Cookie that always has you coming back for more! Available in many different flavours and handmade especially for you, these are a luxury cookie at a low price! I also take bulk orders for family events, kids parties, weddings or a function of your choosing and also personalise cookies with "Thank you", "Happy Birthday", "Get Well Soon" or a message of your choice. I produce boxes of cookies for end of term thank you gifts for teachers or TAs and these come gift wrapped. Flavours include choc chip, double choc chip, almond and cherry, smarties, m&ms, oat and raisin or magic stars. …and…Kerley’s Canape Creations…The Melt in the Mouth chocolate canapé – sophisticated, yummy, moreish – the luxury sweet canapé at a low price! Available in different flavours and designs, personalised or plain and delivered in display boxes ready to put out at your function or corporate event to wow your guests – they’ll never know how little you paid!

Thank you so much Sarah for taking the time out to tell us all about you and your baking adventures! If only we had 'taste' screens!!!

Mrs Crafty B

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