This month, Emily from Maid of Gingerbread takes on our quickfire questions!
Please introduce yourself:
I’m Emily and I’m a food artist specialising in 3D biscuit sculptures. I set up Maid of Gingerbread back in 2010 and have since made gingerbread installations for clients including Harrods, Fortnum & Mason and Castle Howard. For weddings I create truly one-off bespoke centrepieces that are really personal to each couple. I’ve become known for my design-led, modern approach and I always incorporate a sense of fun and colour in everything I make.
1. Where do you call home?
I live and work in Hackney, East London.
2. What made you want to set up your business?
I wanted to provide an alternative to the ubiquitous cupcakes and boring layer cakes, and really liked using gingerbread to build things other than traditional Christmas houses.
3. Why the wedding industry?
I absolutely love creating personalised, one-off centrepieces so working with a bride- and groom-to-be to make something that really captures their personalities and vision for their big day is a total joy for me.
4. What’s the best part of your job?
Seeing people’s faces light up when I deliver their dream centrepiece!
5. What’s the worst part of your job?
Juggling all the minutiae that has to be done behind the scenes in order to keep a small business going.
6. What’s the weirdest request you’ve ever had from a client?
I get a lot of requests that might seem unusual, but I don’t think I’d call any of them ‘weird’. I totally embrace the uniqueness of every order – the weirder the better!
7. You’re surrounded by beauty in your job, what do you find beautiful?
I see beauty in a lot of things that perhaps most people wouldn’t. For example, manhole covers and coal covers often have the most incredible symmetrical designs on them. I actually did a series of round cakes using those designs, and they’re definitely beautiful, but the patterns are often overlooked. I’m always inspired by amazing architecture and design and get a lot of inspiration just wandering around the city – there’s so much beauty out there if you stop to notice it.
8. Best piece of advice to offer to those getting married?
Delegate, so you don’t become overwhelmed! Spend time finding suppliers you truly love and then you’ll be able to trust them to do what they do best and come up with things that really work for you both, and your wedding day.
9. Who or what is your biggest influence?
I’m influenced by lots of people across different disciplines and it does change quite frequently, but at the moment I’m obsessed with Camille Walala’s work. Her use of pattern and colour is just totally awe-inspiring!
10. Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
It’s not so much advice as more of a motto – my mum’s always said “baking is a game you can eat”. Focusing on this really helps me retain a sense of fun, joy and colour in my work.
11. What was your career plan B?
I actually studied South-East Asian music originally and I still play a lot in my spare time.
12. Tell us something surprising about yourself!
I used to be a Treasure Hunt Writer.
13. Pints and pies or coffee and cake?
Am I allowed to choose pints and cake? I’m a big fan of good beer (I’m lucky to have so many great breweries on my doorstep), and even though I’m surrounded by cakes and biscuits all day, I still love them.
14. What’s your favourite shop?
Any art shop really. I’m like a child in a sweet shop and could spend hours just browsing paints and brushes! I really love Cowling & Wilcox in Shoreditch.
15. If you could buy any building, which would it be?
The Lighthouse Building just opposite King’s Cross. I fell in love with it when I first moved to London 15 years ago and it lay abandoned until really recently. (If only I could’ve been living in there all this time…) I’m really happy they’ve renovated the weird metal lighthouse bit at the top. It’s such a quirky little building!
16. Favourite film?
I can’t narrow it down to just one I’m afraid. Some of my favs include: Labyrinth, The Hours, Donnie Darko and Synecdoche, New York.
17. Your biggest pet peeve?
People who clap along, but not in time to the music!
18. What’s your guilty pleasure?
A slice of Mr Kipling Battenberg with a glass of red wine.
19. Favourite thing to do on a rainy day?
Go for a walk in the rain.
20. Cosy night in or big night out?
I’d probably go for somewhere in between – I love a good house party with a small group of excellent people.
21. What’s the most romantic thing someone’s ever done for you?
Someone once made me a birthday cake in my favourite flavour and favourite colour, decorated with handmade miniature marzipan versions of all my favourite musical instruments. Handmade things get me every time and that was just seriously epic.
22. Most perfect place for a sunrise?
Lombok (the South coast, away from the touristy bits), Indonesia.
23. Invisibility or flight?
24. Do you believe in fate?
No, but I do absolutely love a good coincidence…
Thank you to Emily from Maid of Gingerbread for taking part, who knew?? I absolutely loved that most of Emily’s answers were either design or cake based. And for the record, I tasted her gingerbread at the Most Curious wedding fair this year and it as awesome as it looks.
I’ll leave you with my favourite answer of hers, “baking is a game you can eat”. Brilliant!
Until next month.