A winter season working as chalet hosts in the French Alps was the impetus for a whole new career for Devon couple Ellie Barwick and Adam Emberson. “We had brilliant feedback from our guests,” says Ellie. “We’ve always enjoyed cooking, and the comments we got about our catering skills, especially about the cakes we baked every day for afternoon tea, made us think that it was something we could develop further when we came home.”
Plenty of market research and a carefully thought-out business plan followed; Adam worked on the finances and Ellie designed and set up a website and in July 2010 Truly Treats was born.
Starting a business in the middle of a recession is not easy, but right from the start it was apparent that Truly Treats fulfilled a need, and from selling at small markets and car boot sales, the couple quickly progressed to local food events both large and small, including Plymouth Flavourfest, Tavistock Food and Drink Festival, Abbfest and Atlantic Village Food Fayre among many, and then into selling wholesale.
Farmers’ markets are also on their list of venues and they have a regular presence at those in Newton Abbot, Exmouth and Dawlish. At the first Plymouth University Farmers’ Market, set up by the University Slow Food Society, their produce really went down a storm. “The students were almost falling over one another to get to the stall,” Adam said. “We almost completely sold out... we went home with just two cupcakes and a flapjack.”
Truly Treats has recently been accepted as a member of Food and Drink Devon. “With the economy as it is, it’s really important to support local producers,” says Ellie. “All the fruit and veg we use comes from Riverford Organic Vegetables, our dairy produce is from Riverford Dairies and our eggs are free range from Exe Valley Eggs. Our whole rationale is to provide fresh, top-quality food at a reasonable price.”
Apart from traditional favourites like rich fruit cake or coffee and walnut cake, old favourites are given a contemporary tweak, like the chocolate cake with chocolate ganache, or the honey cream roll – a scrumptious modern take on the Swiss roll. Truly Treats also makes cupcakes for corporate events, weddings and themed parties – something to bear in mind with Mother’s Day and Easter coming up. Part of their service includes, if requested, an edible image, logo or photo to top the cupcakes. “The customer provides the photo, we make it edible,” laughs Adam.
In the months since its inception, Truly Treats has grown rapidly. “The only problem is that we’re now outgrowing our domestic kitchen. We’re going to have to move into a bigger unit.” Bigger unit or not, the couple have vowed to maintain the same standards that have led to their current success: producing treats that are fresh, top quality, great value for money... and utterly delicious.
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