Holly’s Cakes and Bakes in Kirkby Lonsdale

A selection at Holly's Cakes and Bakes

A selection at Holly's Cakes and Bakes - Credit: Archant

At just 21 years old, baker Holly Wilkinson is on the rise in Kirkby Lonsdale.

Holly Wilkinson

Holly Wilkinson - Credit: Archant

When Holly Wilkinson arrived home from college one afternoon last year she thought her world had ended. She had gone back to further education for the third time. Her two previous attempts hadn’t worked out and the final one was going the same way. She did not know what to do with her life.

‘I was an absolutely mess,’ she said. ‘I got home and just broke down in tears. I’d not managed to get good GCSEs and my two previous attempts at college hadn’t worked out either.

‘I’d gone to Lancaster and Morecambe College to do web design but that wasn’t good either. It was a really horrible day and one I won’t forget very quickly.’

But it turned out to be an epiphany for the 21-year-old because when her mum, Georgina, took Holly out for lunch as a pick-me-up, they spotted empty premises in Kirkby Lonsdale’s Jingling Lane. That afternoon the pair discussed taking it on and Holly setting up her own cupcake shop. She got the unit, packed in her job and launched Holly’s Cakes and Bakes last November.

Holly said: ‘I remember Mum and I sitting in the square watching to see how many people walked past the shop. We counted 100 in half an hour. We knew we could have a go and make it work.

‘It is really scary setting up on my own. My friends can’t believe that I have done it. Lots of them rang me up to check I was actually doing it. But it’s going really well. It’s really exciting for me.’

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Holly has baked since her early teens. The former Cartmel High School pupil used to sell her cakes on a stall at car boot sales around the Lake District. But as studies took over it was a passion she indulged as a hobby, making dairy free cakes and bakes for grandmother, Sue, who is dairy intolerant.

Today, she is relishing the opportunities having her own bakery presents. But it’s hard work - outside shop hours she is making her sweet treats. Holly produces more than 700 a week from the domestic kitchen in the house she shares with her mum just around the corner from the shop. There are 12 different flavours including raspberry and dark chocolate creations as well as peanut buttercup, popcorn caramel and marshmallow cupcakes.

‘I don’t think I’ve ever sat down properly and thought about how many I make in a week. That is a bit crazy. My mum can never cook tea in her own house because I’m always in there baking.

‘I find it very therapeutic. I get totally lost in it. I put some music on and just get on with it. I start it at 9am and before I know it, it’s 5pm and there are hundreds and hundreds of cakes in the kitchen. It’s a fantastic feeling’

Despite the business being in its infancy, Holly has aspirations to open up more shops as well as expand the current bakery by producing more types of foods.

Holly, who has lived in Kirkby Lonsdale since she was 12, said: ‘It’s really good to do something that’s positive. I would like to expand the business. I don’t want it to become so big that it just becomes a production line but I would love to have two more shops.

‘It’s been so exciting so far. It’s scary because everything falls on me but exciting. It’s brilliant to be doing something different and it’s great to now be doing something that makes me happy. ’

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