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A network of local support was the key ingredient for a speciality cake-decorator keeping her business open during the lockdown.

Over the space of a few days Laura Dawson, from Cute as a Cupcake, lost over eighty-five percent of her business when all large gatherings, including weddings, were banned due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Laura’s primary business, and her passion, is custom-made cakes for weddings, birthdays, christenings, anniversaries and other special occasions, and thanks to her willingness to adapt and a collaboration with the florist up the road, she is helping Townsville residents to celebrate, just on a smaller scale.

Laura Dawson from Cute as a Cupcake Australia

 “I love creating something unique and special just for the client,” said Laura. “I make a cake for their weddings and they come back requesting cakes for christenings and birthdays of their children.”

After the government announced the banning of large events on 23 March, Laura was flooded with cancelled orders.

“Normally I’m booked for weddings one, even two years ahead, brides like to be organised,” said Laura. “But now they are cancelling their orders and they can’t even think about rescheduling yet.”

And this has not just affected Laura, who also employs two casuals to help in the shop and as a cake decorator.

“Bek was nearly full-time before this happened and now I can only offer her one day a week,” said Laura.  “Both ladies are such an important part of the business and I am lucky to not have lost them.”

Milestones are still occurring but birthdays and anniversaries are now intimate celebrations. 

In response Laura introduced her “Iso Cake”; a cake that’s just right size for few people to enjoy and still beautifully decorated to make the event feel special.

Laura has also increased delivery options for customers, a service she would normally have reserved for clients with wedding or other large custom cakes.

“I don’t have a delivery driver and I am usually in the store on my own, so getting away for delivery is difficult,” explains Laura. “Luckily, customers have also been flexible.”

And thanks to the florist up the road, customers can also surprise their loved ones with a delivery of flowers and cupcakes on Fridays.

Cupcakes and Blooms

Desley Lee, from Away with Flowers, was just looking for a cake for her son’s birthday when she decided to try the newly opened cupcake shop up the road.

“Laura is so warm and welcoming and I was impressed as soon as I walked into the shop,” remembers Desley. “So, the next week I suggested we work together to offer ‘Cupcakes and Blooms’.”

A florist in Charters Towers was offering a similar concept and gave their blessing for Desley to bring the idea to Townsville, and Desley knew she had found the perfect business partner in Laura.

“Laura is so hard-working and never gives up,” said Desley. “And she is committed to her customers.”

Although Desley has not been as a hard hit by the lockdown restrictions, having the cupcake offer has been a benefit for her and her customers.

“People are still sending out flowers all the time,” said Desley. “Supply of imported flowers has been affected and farmers can’t make flowers grow any faster.”

Offering cupcakes delivered with her blooms has been a hit with customers.

“I’ve had customers tell me they were looking for something different to be delivered, so this is perfect.”

Desley Lee from Away with Flowers

Businesses supporting Businesses

Delsey was just looking for a birthday cake and instead found a friend and business partner in Laura.

“We support each other, bounce ideas,” said Desley. “If a bride orders flowers and hasn’t ordered her cake I can recommend Laura and vice versa.”

Supporting other local businesses is important to Laura and Desley. 

“My customised cake toppers are hand-made by Fran from Style My Name in the Upper Ross,” said Laura. “Her husband often drops off my order on his way to the bowls club across the road.”

Desley also stocks a range of gift cards in the shop by L & T Design Co, and Laura’s teapots and plates in her store were sourced from Il Mondo, which are both Townsville businesses.

The Cupcakes and Blooms collaboration has grown in popularity during lockdown, delighting their customers and proving so popular they sold out on Mother’s Day.

“Normally we would only have about two orders a week,” said Laura, “But now we are getting about twelve orders a week and made nearly 400 cupcakes for the Mother’s Day weekend.

“With the restrictions lifting, it’s nice to have our customers starting to come back to dine in.”

By Sonia Zabala for BDmag

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