START-UP businesses have had a tough time over recent years with banks being slow to loan them money to get off the ground.
But one entrepreneur is doing just fine without the need to borrow money.
In fact, Gareth Jones, who runs Odiham Cake Company with his wife Emma, is doing so well that he has recently moved his pledging venture to Crumplins Business Court.
“We’re really pleased we haven’t had to borrow one penny – and we’re still in the black,” said Gareth, who started his career 20 years ago at Audley’s Wood Hotel, where he trained as a chef de patisserie.
“We tried borrowing but kept getting turned down and we didn’t seem to qualify for any start-up grants.”
However this did not perturb the talented chef, who previously worked as a catering manager before being made redundant in 2012.
Supported by his wife, children and friends, he researched his idea of starting his own business specialising in bespoke designs, producing delicious cakes that stand out from the crowd.
Initially working from his Odiham home he bought equipment for the business as and when he sold cakes.
During the early days his former employer, a catering company in Eastleigh, was able to take him back on a part-time basis.
“That was very helpful, but I was then able to give them the boot when my business was really starting to take off,” quipped Gareth.
He certainly has some high-flying customers, including Monarch Airlines.
“They initially came to us for a special occasion – it was the opening of their new BHX European hangar in Birmingham.
“They first made contact with me via social media,” explained Gareth, who spent a week icing the celebratory cake in the shape of the aircraft hangar, complete with aircraft taking off.
Gareth is busier than ever and is even sending his special creations abroad.
The move from his home to business premises could not have come too soon.
He said: “It came to a point where we couldn’t cut it having the business being run from home any more.
“It was taking over the house and we were turning customers away.
“I thought, either fold the business and find a normal job or throw everything at it and get a business unit.”
Gareth was able to strike a deal with the landlord of the business park, just off Dunley’s Hill, in Odiham. He agreed to rent free accommodation for a short time, in return for redecorating and converting the former office into an open plan kitchen, with an area for customers to discuss their cake designs.
Upbeat about the business, Gareth said: “It’s hard work – I work 12 hours a day, seven days a week, but I am especially motivated because it’s our own business.”