My career in the world of creativity began when I moved to London from a remote Safari Farm in South Africa. London is a vibrant bustling place that opens all your senses, I fell in love with the depth of Europe, the idea that the world was an open space of anonymity and creativity. I ventured into fabric design and fashion and it was around this time I also discovered that I had Synesthesia, a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway it definitely enhances my artistic nature.
After 10 incredible years, I moved and settled in the USA, a place I now call home, a place I have planted roots with the family and my forever love of food and the art of sugar. I have always been comfortable in the kitchen, but it was here that I fully committed to my calling of the culinary arts. I started with baking anything – cakes, cookies, pastries and flew all over the US to learn from industry experts. I found an old book on the art of creating decorated cookies – which ignited a passion for me, decorating helps me be mindful and keep my creativity in the moment. It was around this time that my father died tragically, decorating became a way of grieving, a way to create and find beauty in the world again. I love the therapeutic effects of making art on an edible canvas. I have a deep affinity for color which matched my passion for baking and needless to say….. The Fox and Pantry was born with this idea in mind. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to marry my journey with my passion.
While my world of food was being reborn through decorating, I was fortunate to have The Food Network reach to be featured in an episode of “The Christmas Cookie Challenge”. While understanding that this uniform box of competition was not going to play to my strengths in the cookie world due to my detailed style, I accepted the challenge and managed to push myself out of my comfort level.
The growth that blooms after such experience reaches far and wide and exposes you to believe in taking risks in other areas of your life and career. Shortly after the show, I opened a small home studio to teach others my craft. I have a real passion for seeing others drop the boundaries of picture-perfect and create art like they were a child. Classes are run on a technique basis and not a “follow and copy” style. Each person walks away with gorgeous creations that represent their personality and uniqueness. Corporate clients find great joy in team-building exercises as it is such a telling session of bonding and vulnerability. I have 3 rules in class. 1. Don’t be critical of your work, 2. Make a mess and most importantly 3. Have fun.
The best part is that you get to take home what you make, eat it, share it, and then come back and start again!
The classes have become a popular pastime for my clients, so this year I decided to open a business with a unique concept. A retail front that will not only host food classes but also serves as a retail store for quality gifts and a private dining event space that will celebrate gathering with drawn-out dinner parties, we will have one seating so no rushing away after you have finished your meal. Events will include champagne and cake events, to painting on cake classes, and everything in between. We have an amazing barista in-house who will be serving small-batch heavenly coffees and gourmet hot chocolate in the colder months. Plymouth will finally have a boutique business that will be an experience to visit. Customer service and attention to detail comes second nature, I cannot wait to spoil and celebrate my customers.
After Covid 19, we are yearning for connection, I intend to make it delicious and fun and so my mission statement follows the guideline of – “gather, create, and be inspired”. We are set to open in February 2022, construction is underway and it is wonderful to build yet another project from the ground up. I know there is a special magic in what I do, I cannot wait to share the joy.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Building a business is never a smooth road, so many challenges arise along the path. For me, I think the biggest challenge has been balancing my home life and my work life. I have 3 kids aged from 15 to 7, so to ensure I can be a mom that is always attentive to the family needs and a business that you are needed 24 -7 is sometimes a challenge. I do however believe that showing my kids how to work hard and go after their goals is very important.
When you work for yourself you are always on call, you don’t have set hours. However, I would say, doing what you love makes the hard work and the hard times more palatable. I enjoy the feeling of putting myself in difficult situations with lots of pressure. Getting through that situation is very rewarding, as is reflecting on obstacles and seeing the lesson in the process is a part of building a business and feeds personal growth. Learning how to do things better with passion is why I get up in the morning.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I have always loved food, the beauty in taste, and visual art all in one process that nourishes. I love both cooking and baking, so long-drawn-out dinner parties with amazing food and some great music, paired with a perfect cocktail is a perfect evening for me.
However, as much as I love savory, I am most known for my art in food, especially cookies and cakes. My most popular bookings for the classes I teach. My teaching style is based on artistic techniques rather than a step-by-step style of copying. It is important that my customers learn an art that they can go home and create again on their own. I savor the energy that happens when you teach, firstly people always doubt their creative talent, by the end of the class so much growth has happened they learn to get comfortable with the process and see the intimacy they feel in the process of creating, that’s the magic!
I love the science behind baking and the process of creating something, changing it and adjusting its design and flavor, and finally finishing the process and allowing it to be a reflection of your brand5. Designing food art is such a vulnerable and personal process. I won’t take on any projects that are not a reflection of my design work, you won’t get a cookie-cutter design as it’s just not my style and I have learned to be comfortable with my ability. It is important to me to make my work as authentic as passion.
I ask a customer, what colors they are drawn to and what kind of design appeals to them, that could be in their home or clothing style and then I design from that. It is certainly a unique way of decorating, but I pride myself on customers knowing my work through my style as soon as they see it.
Can you share something surprising about yourself?
People are always surprised that I am willing to try anything and take risks that put me out of my comfort zone. I am ok if something fails, at least I can rest easy at the end of my life and say “I lived my best life”.
My husband and I have lived on 3 continents. We moved to Seattle because of the sheer beauty of the Cascade mountains, we live in Minnesota now because my husband loves fishing and I just adore the midwest mentality, Minnesota certainly delivers on both of those. With having a retail store here now, I do believe this will our home for a long time to come! I am creating a legacy, and I want my children to see that you can do anything you put your mind to, work hard and succeed with come, even if the path is not always straightforward.