Starting her business at just 19, Dundonian Hollie McNeil has now opened her dream pink bakery, Pretty Little Cakes, at the age of 24.
The former retail worker was inspired by her family to take her business to the next level, following in her great grandfather’s footsteps who opened an Italian ice cream shop called Soave’s on Ann Street when he migrated to Scotland after world war two.
Fed up of her role and leaving retail behind in February, Hollie used her passion for baking to open her first shop on Albert Street at the beginning of last month.
Having been raised in a household where her mother and father were previously both chefs for the Territorial Army, baking and cooking were second nature to her.
At 19 the young entrepreneur set up a Facebook page to promote her baked goods she was selling from home, selling to friends and family initially and then the wider Dundee community.
Now she’s using the platform, and other social media pages to showcase her work and entice customers to her shop which is open every Saturday from 10am to 4pm.
Despite the setbacks many have faced during the pandemic, Hollie’s business grew in popularity and demand.
She said: “Covid was great for my business. I offered contactless deliveries and made cakes and treat boxes that locals would order.
“I managed to make enough income to invest a four-figure amount into the new place where I can bake and sell from. It is a dream come true.”
Pretty in pink
With a pink theme, Hollie’s favourite colour, the shop fit for purpose, with a serving counter and glass cabinet displaying her creations including cupcakes, brownies and cheesecakes.
She said: “I did it to stand out. People can spot my shop from afar and it catches the eyes of anyone passing by.
“Customers have also told me that it makes them feel much happier walking into a bright shop.”
The location on Albert Street has been ideal with the busy street enticing new customers in. Pretty Little Cakes is directly opposite from Jim’s Delhi Club.
More than meets the eye
Despite many only seeing the decorated cakes, owner Hollie has found juggling a business challenging at times.
“It is difficult to find a balance between a social life and running a business,” she said.
“It is tough work and I only show the good parts. Baking is only part of it, then it’s catching up with emails, messages, buying ingredients and taking time to make the cakes.
“On one occasion I found myself baking and decorating 14 different cakes for the weekend in addition to baking 300 cupcakes, 80 brownie slices, two cheesecakes and a mix of other bakes for the shop opening.
“A lot of my customers pre-order now and I have orders until November next year!”
Family is the inspiration
Hollie’s family have been hugely supportive of her business and many of her recipes are family recipes.
With an Italian ancestry and other entrepreneurs like her grandfather in the bloodline, Hollie’s sister also lends a hand by making the glitter toppers for her cakes and helps out with serving at the shop.
She is hopeful that her dad will join her once he retires, and with his vast experience, can aid with her future plans to grow and open the shop more days.
What treats are available?
With the festive season approaching, Hollie is promoting her Christmas menu which includes cupcakes, cheesecakes and puddings all with a festive theme.
She will also open on Christmas Eve after her success the previous year selling treat boxes. Customers can come into the shop and pick a mix of bakes to create their preferred treat boxes.
In general she offers everything from cakesicles to wedding cakes, brownies and cupcakes, with the range of bakes and flavours changing each week.