Ella Rauen-Prestes | Making great tasting cakes with healthier ingredients
This week’s #selfstarterstory features Ella Rauen-Prestes, Founder of Fitbakes.
Pick Yourself UK caught up with Ella to learn more about her entrepreneurial journey…
What was your last job?: I had a 20-year career in global telecom companies, the last one being the Vodafone Group.
What motivated you to start your own business?: Although Brazilian-born and raised, I spent 20 years working in the telecoms industry all over the world.
Moving through various companies and tasting cakes in different time zones eventually led to a role in the UK, the place I now call home.
One of the first things I realised was that British people have a very awkward relationship with cake.
My friends would say things like:
I want to eat cake but they have so much sugar…
I don’t let myself eat cake because of the calories…
It tastes nice but I don’t recognise half of the ingredients used…
I love cake but can’t stop at one slice…
This made me realise how different Brazil is from the UK. Back home, healthy substitutes were the norm – you’d always find stevia in the sugar pot or have a glass of coconut water instead of squash – so we grew up learning how to make healthier versions of the foods we loved to eat.
I couldn’t imagine a life that didn’t involve enjoying cake and coffee with my girlfriends, so I used my husband’s leftover whey protein, mixed with other bits in my cupboard to bake my own low-sugar, high-protein, lower calorie cake bites and mini muffins.
The feedback from my friends, neighbours and gym buddies was always the same - they couldn’t believe that cake made with natural ingredients could be so low in sugar and calories, and still taste so good! The bite-sized pieces meant they could easily eat as much or as little as they liked when they fancied something sweet, and they encouraged me to sell them so that other people could enjoy cake as a healthy treat too.
What was the most challenging part of starting a business?: Baking at night and running to the post office during lunch break to post orders whilst working a full-time job was tough, but worth it!
How do you market your business?: 80% of our sales come from social media through our online store, and we're also stocked in Selfridges and Musclefood.
How did you get your first paying customers?: Social media. We ditched food shows and traditional marketing routes from the beginning and invested in influencer marketing on Instagram, and it paid off! We had over £50k in online sales in 2018.
How did you get your first traffic to your website?: From Instagram, through influencers.
What would you say to someone who is toying with the idea to start a business but haven't yet?: Sit down and make a proper business plan and a life plan of how you will survive financially whilst the business gets off the ground.
Focus on your strengths and outsource your weakness. And you do have to be passionate about your business, because you are going to be working for free for a long time, and if you don't have the passion you will give up!