Throughout International Women’s Day 2017, we’ll be celebrating the work of women everywhere with a series of inspirational interviews with female entrepreneurs, restauranteurs, CEOs, chefs and more. Today, meet Alana Spencer, founder of Ridiculously Rich by Alana and winner of The Apprentice 2016. We sit down to talk business, brownies and start-up tips:

Tell me a little bit life after The Apprentice – what’s changed?

Life has got a whole lot busier. The website sales, which hadn’t  previously been a big part of my business, went crazy. I have people enquiring to stock my products really frequently. It’s basically been a dream come true!

How have you found being a woman in business? 

For me being a woman in business has always been an advantage. I think men and women have different skill sets and the skills I have as a woman are what have enabled me to get to where I am now.

What’s your business journey been like?

It has been one of dedication and lots of long hours. I knew what I wanted to achieve when I was just starting out and I haven’t looked back really. There have been some learning curves along the way, just as there are in any businesses, but it has been amazing so far and the way I see it it has only just begun really.

Tell me about business – what’s the big idea?

I want Ridiculously Rich by Alana to become a leading player in the luxury cake market. I want people to treat themselves to my cakes. I put emphasis on the “treat” as they are a real treat.

How does it differ to other business of this kind?

For me there are a lot of cake sellers out there but there seems to be a lack of branded mainstream luxury cakes. I want to bring the farmers markets to the nation. They are rustic cakes and they are handmade but we want everyone to be able to enjoy them.

What inspires you?

In business my inspiration has always been my family. I came from a family of entrepreneurs who growing up have been a massive influence on me. The biggest role model for me was my uncle who like me, didn’t find school his favourite thing but he had a vision and has become very successful.

What does good food mean to you?

The term ‘good food’ makes me think of the sort of thing my mum would make. Good, wholesome food. I believe my cakes fit into this as I don’t claim them to be delicate pretty cakes but they are honestly delicious.

What’s your favourite cake in the range?

For me it changes all the time. I think the creme brûlée brownie are one of my current favourites. We have started a monthly cake box where the cakes in your box change from month to month. This has been an incredibly exciting thing to do as I get to enjoy baking and creating new products all the time.

What 3 tips would you give to someone wanting to start their own food business?

1. The food has to taste fantastic – The aim is for people to want to come back for seconds.
2. Pricing strategy, especially when selling at markets. You need to develop a pricing strategy that is going to sell the most products in one go.
3. Brand values and USP – Know what these are and suddenly everything becomes a whole lot easier.

How has your personal experience lead to starting the company?

As a child, my mum worked incredibly hard to make sure she could provide for me but we still didn’t have an awful lot. I think seeing this made me realise how important hard work is but also made me realise I wanted to build for my future.

What was a turning point for the business?

My business went from strength to strength and I would say I was a very successful sole trader. Then I applied for The Apprentice as cliché as it sounds, the moment I won was the turning point in my mind to grow a big business.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given for starting your own business?

My uncle said to me “You need to know what your doing it for and what your trying to achieve”. It sounds simple but if you don’t know what your trying to do, I. E the vision for the business, you will lose focus. This taught me to set goals both in business and in my personal life.

Plans for 2017?

There is so much going on. Lord Sugar thought of an incredibly clever business model that fits in beautifully with my brand values. We will be recruiting brand ambassadors who will be self employed people growing their own branch of Ridiculously Rich by Alana. These ambassadors will become part of the Ridiculously Rich family and together we can grow the business. I am also planning a subscription service that is coming later in the year. This is giving me an amazing opportunity to play around with new products which is my favourite thing to do.