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Cake Jars: the Lockdown idea that saved a business

For Mariska Schoeman, last year’s Lockdown couldn’t have come at a worse time. Business was thriving – creating bespoke cakes for weddings and special occasions – but Covid-19 brought everything to a halt.

After multiple sleepless nights and her reluctance to give the business up, Schoeman sparked the idea of cake jars. And with that, Sweet Talk was born.

Designed to be shipped around New Zealand with contactless delivery, cake jars was the perfect solution to keep Schoeman’s business afloat.

To see if the idea was worthwhile, she first put the concept on her social media, and luckily received great feedback. The biggest challenge she faced is that cakes have a lifespan. This meant her recipes needed to be lab tested to see how long they could last at room temperature.

After a series of tests, Schoeman was able to bake cakes that could last up to three days at room temperature and five days in the fridge. She then asked people from around the country to taste test her creations and away they went.

“I sent jars to the top of the North Island down to the bottom of the South Island and they arrived overnight completely unscathed. After that I knew I had to give the idea a go.”

Mariska Schoeman, Sweet Talk founder

“Some people would get their cake jars overnight, and others wouldn’t get them on time or the parcel would go missing.

“At the time I made everything out of my own kitchen, I was on my own and had the kids. I had to bake all the cakes, jar all the cakes and write all the cards, so when some didn’t show up I was really gutted.”

While tackling this and the many other challenges of running a small business, Schoeman however remained enthusiastic. Now, with the post back to its usual flow, each parcel she sends ends up where it needs to be and arrives overnight.

Sweet Talk’s cake jars come in a range of delicious flavours including Lemon and Raspberry, S’mores, Red Velvet Rose Cheesecake, and Salted Caramel with Espresso. Schoeman says over the years of baking at home she has had a lot of time to experiment with ingredients to create her own recipes.

“I think the beauty of having not studied any bakery it just means that I got to break rules that I didn’t even know were rules, and would yield great results anyway.

“It was a lot of trial and error and there were some awful cakes, but now my recipes are fine tuned.”

Originally baking from home, Schoeman says the support local message that erupted after the first Lockdown is what ultimately helped her move to a small premise.

And with people needing wedding cakes once again, it was only natural to build a website to showcase the businesses full offering, which now also includes flowers.

For others thinking about starting their own business, Shcoeman says you need to be okay to steer away from your original idea.

“My advice would be just start. You can’t have the answer for every scenario yet, so loosely follow the plan that you’ve set out.Then you can recognise obstacles and pivot your business to get around them.”

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