We love getting to know female entrepreneurs, and we also love cake. So it only felt right to interview Faye Palmqvist, founder of Sweet Elements – a cake and dessert catering business based in Fulham. We caught up with Faye over a cuppa and a slice to discuss everything from starting a business to desserts, obviously.

You left a career in marketing to set up your own food business – how did the idea come about?

For years I’d been baking, and never thought I would do it as a business. Three years ago when my marketing contract was coming to an end, I decided it was time to pursue my dream of becoming a pastry chef. It was a time in my life where I thought to myself, I did not want to wake up at 50 and have any regrets. That’s when I decided it was time to pursue my dream and turn it into a reality.

You trained as a pastry chef at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School – what did you take away from the training?

Although I wasn’t new to baking and had previously completed a PME sugar paste, the experience at LCB was amazing. I learned so much from chocolate making, creating beautiful designed desserts, bread making to learning such a wide skill set.

Can you tell us a little more about the Sweet Elements?

Sweet Elements is a bespoke cake and dessert catering company based in South West London. With my professional training, I am able to offer my clients desserts that you don’t always find off the shelf. No request is too small or too big. I have a wonderful mix of clients that I’ve made cakes and desserts for, which include private clients, large corporations as well as organisations such as the Common Wealth.

How long did it take for the idea to become a reality?

It took about a year of planning and researching, until Sweet Elements was up and running.

What’s been the hardest part of setting up your own business?

I set up Sweet Elements on my own, so every decision, order and all the “business” related things are done by myself. Sometimes this can be quite challenging.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t give up when times are tough. When you own your own business you need to remain strong, focused and keep on going.

How did you make people aware of Sweet Elements when you first opened?

It was mainly through word of mouth, networking and social media.

What’s the craziest cake you’ve ever made?

I wouldn’t say I’ve done a super crazy cake. Last year I was asked to do a wedding in Malta, where I made the wedding cake, along with 5 other cakes and sweets for the dessert table to feed 350. It was a challenging project as I did the whole thing on my own, and I also catered the pre-wedding party with savoury food and more desserts.

What’s your favourite pudding?

This isn’t an easy question as I can’t just choose one item. Here are my top three: Anything with custard such as a Pastel de Nata (I love them!), hazelnut meringue with fresh cream and chocolate, and a raspberry entremet that I make myself.

Any advice for people who are looking to start a food business?

It’s important to do your research and have a proper business plan in place. Speak to others who have started their own business, as they will give you some great advice most of the time. Get ready to work as it’s not an easy ride, but once you are set up, it’s rewarding. If you have a dream go after it and don’t give up.

How do you keep a good work/life balance?

To be able to live a balanced life I think it’s very important to be organised. Plan ahead and make sure you keep on top of your work. It’s important to do things for yourself; spend time with friends, do a sport, or whatever you enjoy doing. It’s very easy to constantly work when you run your own business. Unfortunately, if you do that constantly you’ll end up burning out.

Visit the Sweet Elements website here for more information.