A talented South Tyneside baker is turning her passion into her livelihood with the help of a five-figure investment from the North East Small Loan Fund Supported By The European Regional Development Fund.
Leanne Cummings set up desert delivery service Elsie’s Kitchen 18 months ago, making a range of different cakes and puddings in the kitchen of her South Shields home, and she has since expanded her range to include savoury products and dinners.
The concept has proved so popular that Leanne has now decided to give up her job as a housing officer in March next year to concentrate full time on developing her catering business.
She has worked with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to secure a £25,000 investment, which she will use to kit out and open a new shop on Westoe Road in South Shields in the spring, as well as to take on new staff to help meet customer demand.
And she is already planning on opening a second store elsewhere in the region within the next couple of years.
Elsie’s Kitchen is now also providing catering for a growing number of events across South Tyneside, North Tyneside and Gateshead after Leanne received a huge amount of positive feedback for the food she made for her own engagement party.
Leanne Cummings says: “Baking and cookery were always just a hobby, but the response I’ve had over the last 18 months has given me the confidence to turn this passion for food into a full-time business.
“Old school cakes like rainbow sponge, jam & coconut and Angel Delight crispy cake have tended to be my best-sellers so far, but I’m open to whatever customers want me to make and the new shop will give us the space we need to expand our menu.
“Event catering wasn’t something I’d really considered until I got such great comments about the food I’d prepared for my own party, and since then, that side of the business has really taken off.
“I want to get the South Shields shop up and running next year, but think there’s a great deal more potential in the business that I can realise and establishing a physical presence in a second location in the near future is high on my To Do list.
“The NEL team were really helpful in guiding me through the application process and answering the questions I had about how everything worked, and it’s exciting to now be ready to start getting everything going.”
Part of the £120m North East Fund and aimed predominantly at smaller SMEs, the £9m North East Small Loan Fund typically offers loans of between £10,000 and £50,000 to businesses in Tyne & Wear, Durham and Northumberland.
It is designed to assist with the creation of over 1,200 new regional jobs in more than 320 SMEs over the life of the fund.
Mike Guellard, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “Turning your hobby into a successful business is a dream for a lot of people, and Leanne has the skills, ideas and resources to make Elsie’s Kitchen an even greater success.”
The overarching North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 3,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.
NEL is also responsible for investing the £18m North East Growth Capital Fund, which offers unsecured investments of up to £500,000 to established businesses looking to realise their growth potential.