We’ve worked with the lovely Amy at Polka Pops for many years – she’s a Little White Books and Great Northern Wedding Show regular. So when we heard that she has been invited to take part in #PitchAtPalace with a select group of tech and food entrepreneurs we absolutely had to pin her down for an interview!
- So, Amy – thanks for taking the time to speak to us commoners about your experience at St James’ Palace this week! Tell us why you were there…
#PitchAtPalace is a platform for tech businesses to network, raise their profile and make connections with investors. Held at St James’ Palace they also invited independent food businesses to create an indoor street market – in the most amazing setting ever! The St James’ Palace team held regional heats in Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh and the most exciting and innovative businesses were invited to take part at the main London event. When I received the call from Marcus (Royal Advisor to the Duke of York) I thought it was a joke – friends or family pulling my leg! They asked me to attend the Manchester event, and then I was selected to display my cake pop towers and feature in their goody bags on pitch day! I thought it would be expensive for me to take part but they weren’t even asking for freebies - Marcus said part of the process is supporting small businesses which is very refreshing. I had to send my invoice to Buckingham Palace! My cake pops went down really well and Marcus has placed a further order for his own party!
- What are your personal highlights from the day?
The initial entrance was mind-blowing, showing my passport to the armed guards – OMG really, me? Amy from Preston – are you sure? It didn’t seem real! Walking in and seeing the grand staircase, so ornate and in beautiful red and gold was absolutely overwhelming. It was very emotional, I don’t mind admitting that there were tears! Chatting to Sarah, Duchess of York and Princess Beatrice was brilliant – they’re both very genuine, really friendly and dressed very simply (stylish, of course) but if you passed them in street you would never know they were royals – they were so lovely and really put me at ease.
Marcus took me through to view the throne which is only used in the official ceremony when the title of King or Queen is handed down, no photos as it’s only viewed on TV or at the palace by invitation – I felt so privileged, just taking it all in. Meeting Peter Jones from Dragons Den was great – he’s really, really tall, and I’m really tiny!! He was happy to snap a selfie – he asked me to get on my tip toes! He was looking for investment opportunities, was very friendly and down to earth.
The 7 hour journey the day before was hideous because of traffic – kids in car, cake tower in boot! When I walked into the hotel we caused a stir – everyone asking if I was excited to be going to the palace and there’s me with my northern accent dressed in jeans and a jumper! We had to check out at noon and the event didn’t start until 3pm - huge thanks to Nigel Rayment http://www.nigelraymentboutique.co.uk who let me get changed in his gorgeous boutique – so I didn’t have to do my palace prep in McDonalds toilet!! My cake towers are made of sturdy stuff, from Preston to London and not a pop out of place!
- You’re really good at getting the Polka Pops brand recognised. What are your tips for other independent businesses?
Don’t take yourself too seriously, network with other suppliers and consider every opportunity that comes into your email inbox. You never know when you’ll meet a person that can make a huge difference to your business. Network at wedding fairs, use social media – and be true to yourself at all times.
- 2016 is just around the corner – what’s on the agenda for Polka Pops next year?
I’m back at the Great Northern Wedding Show on April 24th and September 18th and I’m swamped with bookings for weddings already (so if you want my cake pops please don’t delay, my diary is packed!) Baby showers are HUGE at the moment, I’m currently working on a “gender reveal” I’m booked to do the cakes pops for a shower and currently the sonographer and me are the only people who know the sex of the baby! When my pops are eaten they will reveal either pink or blue sponge – it’s amazing to be involved in the happiest moments of people’s lives every day, just me in my kitchen! I’m getting more and more corporate requests for business branding and events. My eldest boy (I’ve got three – and no, they never get sick of cake!) is up for a national swimming award– he’s in the top 3, so that’s another road trip for the Family Polka. My younger boys make me smile every day, even my youngest – let’s just call him “challenging”! Being at home for them while I run my business is what makes it all worthwhile!
All of Amy’s contact details can be found here http://www.littlewhitebooks.co.uk/wedding-supplier/227-polka-pops
Amy, we’re SUPER-PROUD of you!! Keep flying the flag for working mummy’s (and no, we’re not just saying that so we get free cake pops – promise!!)