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Diversity in Leadership: Growing a business I created out of my kitchen

Silverleaf Cheesecakes

This blog is part of the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce’s (ABCC) Diversity in Leadership campaign.

The Diversity in Leadership campaign works with some of the regions’ biggest employers in order to boost the numbers of women and those from black and minority ethnic (BAME), lesbian gay bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and disability groups being represented on boards of directors and in leadership roles.

Click here to find out more about the campaign. 

Originally from Rochdale, the oldest of six children and the only daughter I married very young at the age of 19 years old and went to university after I got married, writes Sameena Kauser.

I graduated from Aston University with BSc in Psychology in 2001 and had my daughter a year later, staying at home whilst the kids were young.

Once they were in school I decided to work in education as a teaching assistant and food technician as it worked around my family life.

Two years ago I started to explore the idea of a baking business as I loved baking and trying new recipes, I started baking cupcakes and cakes but I loved cheesecakes and especially baked cheesecakes, which I started to bake and give them to family and friends to try.

My biggest critics were my husband and my brothers, it is not easy listening to feedback but it definitely helped me to perfect my cheesecakes.

I tried lots of different recipes and sought advice from other bakers, I made lots of mistakes along the way, but looking back I can see how much progress I have made from the beginning.

When you first begin something like this you want to hurry the process but it takes time to build a business, find a catchy name (Silverleaf Cheesecakes) and raise your profile, especially if you're working another job and have a family.

The biggest challenge for me was self-belief, believing that I can create a good product that people will want to purchase, I have learnt that when it comes to my cheesecakes I try to perfect each one in flavour and presentation because you get only one chance to make a good impression and word of mouth is extremely important in business.

About six months ago with the support of my husband, we decided to approach food businesses and enquire about supplying them with my creations.

As the baklava cheesecake was my signature cheesecake I thought it would be a perfect fit with the type of food that Damascena was serving, so a meeting was set up with the owner, it was nerve racking having them taste samples as its very different to family and friends tasting it, but to my relief they loved them.

At first, I began supplying them at one branch but now I supply them to all three branches, as well as direct orders.

It is exhilarating to be doing what I’m doing, I love receiving amazing feedback from customers, building links with other small businesses, who are usually women like myself who have set up their side hustle, be it graphic design, clothing, or artwork.

All in all, it has been a very positive experience.

Recently I have had a stall at a monthly market that promotes Instagram businesses like mine, I sold out at the first one and it was great for getting the word out about my business.

I recently launched my new Silverleaf cheesecake jars which have proven to be huge hit with customers online and at the market.

I hope to continue growing the business and I am excited about the future prospects of this small business I created out of my kitchen.