Baker Gemma has found her happy place

Bray People - - NEWS -

FOR GEMMA HILL, fol­low­ing her pas­sion was a road she was thrust into rather than one she care­fully set out, but nonethe­less her start up bak­ing busi­ness is thriv­ing.

The turn­ing point came as her sec­ond ma­ter­nity leave drew to a close and she got the news that she was to be made re­dun­dant. In the height of the re­ces­sion in 2011, this was not a prospect that Gemma rel­ished and she set off on that path known to many of hav­ing CVs re­jected and of­ten not even ac­knowl­edged. Dur­ing this time, she de­cided to fo­cus on be­ing at home with her chil­dren, and it was at this stage that she started bak­ing.

‘I started bak­ing and send­ing lit­tle cup­cakes and treats in to school with my lit­tle girl any­time they had an oc­ca­sion to cel­e­brate. Is­abella was turn­ing three and asked me to make her a mer­maid princess cake. I was clue­less as to how fon­dant and dec­o­ra­tions worked but I man­aged to make a two-tier cake that to me was very am­a­teur but to Is­abella it was the best,’ Gemma ex­plains. Fast for­ward to Fe­bru­ary 2013 and Gemma, hav­ing built up her con­fi­dence in the kitchen, started do­ing bak­ing classes and bak­ing birth­day par­ties for chil­dren and ‘Lit­tle Gem’s Bak­ing Academy’ was born.

‘I quickly reg­is­tered the busi­ness name and I found a fan­tas­tic premises with a full kitchen ready to use. All my classes take place in The Bridge Cen­tre on the Wex­ford Road in Ark­low and I’m also reg­is­tered at home,’ she says.

In re­cent years with the in­flu­ence of TV shows such as The Great Bri­tish Bake- Off - bak­ing, and in turn cake dec­o­rat­ing, an art­form in it­self have ex­ploded, so Gemma’s tim­ing was pretty much per­fect.

‘ There’s lit­er­ally been a huge ‘cake ex­plo­sion’ in the past cou­ple of years. I love to see the ideas peo­ple have and cre­ate the per­fect cake for them. It’s a tal­ent I only found when I was get­ting close to my for­ties so I re­ally be­lieve that any­thing is pos­si­ble. Cake dec­o­rat­ing while ther­a­peu­tic and en­joy­able, is an art and of­ten it takes sev­eral hours to cre­ate that per­fect cake. If you’re arty or cre­ative at all its worth a try.’ Look­ing ahead, Gemma hopes to take on more cor­po­rate work and pri­vate classes which are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar as so­cial events.

‘I would love to take in more classes in other schools in the area to in­clude their spe­cial needs units as it is a fan­tas­tic skill for any child to have. Other plans for the near fu­ture in­clude more ad­vanced classes for my reg­u­lar kids and some ba­sic cake dec­o­rat­ing classes for adults. I’d love to teach oth­ers what I’ve learned. I’m com­pletely self taught so I’ve had the dis­as­ters and the tri­umphs.’ The com­mu­nity in which Gemma works is all part of the ap­peal of run­ning her own busi­ness and the sup­port she has re­ceived has been won­der­ful.

‘I bake for any­one who asks for char­ity events and I re­ally feel like I’m part of a fan­tas­tic com­mu­nity here in Ark­low. I grew up in the area but em­i­grated at a young age so spent years away. I never thought I’d be back and I never thought I’d be gappy to set­tle back in this small town but I’ve found my happy place. I can’t see my­self mak­ing mil­lions but there’s more to life than that. If you have a pas­sion in life I say just go for it.’

Gemma Hill of Lit­tle Gem’s Bak­ing Academy.

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