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Penarth-based baking prodigy takes business to the zest level

Meg Hitchen with friend and mentor, Tommy Heaney

A 19-year-old entrepreneur who hit the sweet spot in Penarth for her dietary-inclusive home-baked delights is now exploring mouth-watering business expansion alongside Big Ideas Wales.

Meg Hitchen was 17 years old when she first launched Meggobakes from her family kitchen. Over a year later Meg’s completely customisable creations, once a simple sweet treat for family and friends, has expanded into a thriving business catering to loyal customers and corporate clients alike.

During her first year of trading, Meg produced over 400 unique orders to clients across Wales, alongside supplying Wilmore’s 1938 with treats to tickle its customers’ tastebuds. Following such success Meg is now broadening her offering and increasing sales, with aspirations of opening her very own café.

Operating solely online, Meggobakes sells a range of home-baked goods from giant cookies and gooey chocolate filled cookie sandwiches to cupcakes, brownies and event cakes. All of Meg’s creations are completely customisable from filling to frosting and made-to-order from the comfort of her own purpose-built Meggobakes kitchen.

Meg began baking at the age of three, spending countless evenings perched on a stool at her grandmother’s kitchen counter. It is here she learnt a range of generational family recipes from zesty lemon drizzle cakes to traditional Victoria sponges and proved herself as a natural starter with a baker’s hand.

Meg said: “My grandmother was an excellent baker. Spending week after week in her kitchen, I learnt the foundational skills from how to use a rolling pin to tricky whisking and kneading techniques. It wasn’t long before I felt ready explore my potential further and began competing against other young talents across Wales.”

At just 13-years-old Meg won her first Future Chef Regional Competition, a title she won three years in a row. In the fourth year of competing, Meg was awarded the title of Future Chef Regional Winner and went on to represent South Wales in the national final in London.

During this time, Meg was introduced to Tommy Heaney, professional chef and owner of the self-titled restaurant in Pontcanna. For years Meg worked under mentor Tommy’s wing, gaining insightful knowledge into the culinary industry and polishing her professional skills.

Discussing Meg’s culinary keenness, Tommy said: “Meg has always had an effortless approach to culinary arts. To this day I am proud to take on a mentoring role and support Meg as she grows as not only a chef and natural baker, but a successful businesswoman too.

“I am truly grateful to be able offer insight, advice and guidance as a fellow chef and entrepreneur. Her achievements in the first year of operating are a true representation of just how successful Meggobakes can and will surely become. I can’t wait to watch the rest of her journey.”

Each of Meg’s products are completely customisable to the style and taste of the buyer. By making each order customisable, Meg is able to cater to a variety of dietary requirements including dairy-free, lactose-free, gluten-free and vegan, all at no additional cost.

Meg said: “Being vegan or lactose intolerant should never come at a price. That’s why I cater to every dietary need at no extra cost. Not only am I ensuring Meggobakes is an inclusive business, but I’m broadening my culinary knowledge, trying out new recipes, expanding my offering and building trusted relationships with my customers. It has been a hoot, rather than a hindrance!”

In developing her business, Meg was signposted to Big Ideas Wales – a Welsh Government funded service that, as part of Business Wales, aims to support anyone between the age of 5 and 25 to develop a business idea, including students and graduates, as part of its commitment to the Young Person’s Guarantee.

Shortly after reaching out to Big Ideas Wales, Meg was partnered with business advisor Liz Hopkin who she meets with weekly discuss her future business ventures and gain professional advice on key business factors like finance and pricing.

Big Ideas Wales Operations Team Lead, Lynne Berg, said: “Although she is only 19-years-old, Meg has had a hand in the culinary world for almost a decade, winning countless accolades for her natural abilities and training under one of South Wales’ most talented and acclaimed chefs.

“So, while Meg had a wealth of knowledge on her desired industry from the get-go, there were many areas of entrepreneurism that Liz was able to support her with – from helping to build a professional business plan to offering guidance on registering as a business, understanding finances and profits and product pricing.”

Alongside one-on-one weekly meetings with Liz, Meg has also utilised Big Ideas Wales’ countless online webinars where she has gained additional insight into areas like finance, advertising, social media and marketing.

Discussing the support of Big Ideas Wales, Meg said: “I speak on behalf of all Big Ideas Wales entrepreneurs when I say that having unconditional, unwavering support is a huge confidence booster. Knowing that Liz and the support of Big Ideas Wales is just a call away has been pivotal to the growth of Meggobakes.

“The on-demand webinars have offered helpful insight into tricky areas like finances and marketing, which Liz has also kindly offered insight into. Both have helped me separate finances from passion and build a thriving online community of over 1k followers on social media.”

With a variety of business milestones including successful profit margins, a thriving and growing online community and expansion into existing businesses already checked off her list, Meg now has aspirations of opening her own café, selling Meggobakes coffee and an assortment of her freshly-baked sweet treats.