Halloween Special: 10 Minutes with Emily Friend aka British Girl Bakes...
So it all started in a cupcake shop in Costa Rica! Tell us a bit about your journey from opening a cupcake shop in Costa Rica, to creating an online community through YouTube.
It’s a long story! I loved having the cupcake shop but I met a boy and we ended up in Los Angeles. I managed a few cake shops there but when I had my first baby I wanted to stay at home with him. I didn’t want to give up everything I’d learnt while working so that’s when I started making instructional videos about cakes.
Now, you run a successful YouTube channel with over 250k subscribers, an online Cake School, popular Instagram account, and have two young children! How do you balance work life and family life?
I really struggled with this at the beginning because I tried to do both at the same time. My son would be playing and I’d grab my laptop to do a bit of editing but inevitably be interrupted a few minutes later. Then I decided to only do cake things when the children were sleeping, which helped separate parenting and working. When they started preschool I had a lot more time to dedicate to cakes but I’ve just had a third baby so now I’m trying to figure it all out again.
Recently you set up an Instagram account for your boys’ baking antics too! How is it working with your children? Were they eager to get started themselves? They look like they are having a lot of fun!
I’ve baked with the boys since they were tiny and they love measuring and mixing and making a mess! When I built my studio last year they were fascinated by it and since I already have the cameras, lighting, microphones, editing software etc for British Girl Bakes, it seemed like a good idea to document the boys’ baking adventures, too! It’s very different to making my own videos because I can’t plan or predict much of what’s going to happen but by letting the boys lead, they have the most fun.
What do James and Max like most about baking? Which are their favourite recipes to make?
Eating what they make! Since I make so many cakes we don’t eat them (we’d all be diabetic if we did!) so for the boys, it’s extra exciting to bake because they know they’ll be able to taste it at the end.
What is your favourite recipe? We are salivating over the Chocolate Peanut Butter cake! Very American inspired.
That’s definitely one of my favourites, too! I’m still living in the US so a lot of my recipes are inspired by the ingredients and desserts I see here. I love all of the recipes on my website but if I have a choice, I always pick something chocolatey.
Are there any recipes you have seen that you are eager to try next?
I’ve wanted to experiment with macarons for a while but I need a big chunk of time which hasn’t been realistic yet. One day...
Were you always a keen baker, since childhood? What did you want to be when you were little?
I’ve always loved sweet things and the first career I remember daydreaming about was having an ice cream shop, which is fairly close to what I ended up doing in Costa Rica!
What do you like most about creating and being part of an online community?
I love being able to help people make cakes wherever they are in the world. I see comments and messages from people in places I’ve never been to, saying that one of my videos or courses has helped them make a cake for a grandchild or start to sell their cakes and hearing that makes all of the time and effort worthwhile!
You seem very well travelled! Where has been your favourite place to live in the world?
I’d choose the beauty of Edinburgh with the weather of Los Angeles!
What one piece of advice would you give to any aspiring entrepreneurs (especially mothers), that you wish you knew when you first started out?
Choose a realistic schedule and try to stick to it. So figure out what you want to achieve, e.g. one YouTube video a week, and how long you need to spend on that, and then decide where you can carve out that time. Maybe it’s nap times, after bedtime, early mornings... it’s really difficult to find time at the beginning but as the business grows and you need to spend longer on things, your children will be getting older and you find yourself with more time.
Quick fire questions!
Tea or coffee? Coffee
Movie or Boxset? Movie
YouTube or Netflix? YouTube!
Early bird or Night owl? Night owl
Cosy night in or Going “out out”? Cosy night in
Beach bbq or Sunday roast? Beach bbq
UK or USA? USA for now!
Starter or Dessert? Dessert
And we have a very special Halloween Treat for you... some yummy recipes to keep the kids entertained!
Emily and her boys made her Perfect Chocolate Cake recipe for the cupcakes and her 4 Minute Buttercream for the icing, tinting it with green, purple and orange gels. We used mini marshmallows and chocolate chips for the eyes (cut mini marshmallows in half and stick the point of a chocolate chip into each, then stick into frosting - use different numbers of eyes for each monster!)