Adult course proves to be icing on the cake for Powys business woman
An adult learning course has helped a Powys grandmother turn an ordinary cake decoration business into a hub of creative art.
Sixty-year old Teresa Jones who lives just South of Chirk was happy enough selling mass-produced cake decorations from her market store until a night class in sugarcraft at Coleg Powys showed her how to make her own adornments.
Now her enterprise is booming after becoming a magnet for people from miles around wanting to add something special to cakes for their big occasions.
Teresa’s learning success is being highlighted this month as part of a New Year drive by the Welsh Assembly Government and adult learning body NIACE Dysgu Cymru to encourage people of all ages to start 2011 by seeking new knowledge or skills.
During January adults in Wales are being urged to visit one of the many open days and information events being held in colleges and other places of learning as part of the campaign entitled Your Future Your Choice Your Action, funded jointly by the Assembly Government and the European Social Fund.
An experienced shop-worker, Teresa took over a cake decorating supply store based in the Oswestry Town Market, on the Welsh border. She quickly realised she was unable to offer her customers in-depth advice when it came to using many of the materials she sold.
“I was selling products that I’d never taken out of the packet. Customers would come in and ask questions and while I could answer the basics, I couldn’t answer any technical questions about how to make the decorations or which tools or materials to use.”
Unhappy with this state of affairs Teresa decided to enrol on a Welshpool-based weekly sugarcraft course through Coleg Powys, and learned how to use professional tools and equipment to make a whole host of cake toppers and ornaments.
Bitten by the learning bug, Teresa moved on to the advanced level course.
“I was immediately addicted to making decorations and cake toppers. It was as if I’d unearthed a long-dormant creative passion. I’ve now launched my own line of personalised cake toppers which are incredibly popular.”
The new skills have changed the way Teresa views her business, giving her renewed enthusiasm for the shop and her made-to-order cake decorations. “I never dreamt I’d be creating my own line of cake toppers, and if I hadn’t done the course my career would be totally different. The way I help my customers has been totally transformed. I’m now able to give specialised advice, recommend the proper equipment, tell people how to colour their icing or how to construct a perfect flower to top their cake. But launching my own range of cake toppers has become my greatest passion and I see a really bright future for my sugarcraft work.”
Leighton Andrews, Minister for Children, Education and Lifelong Learning, stressed the importance of people of all ages improving their knowledge and skills. He said:
“It’s important for the competitiveness and prosperity of Wales that more individuals choose to increase their knowledge, skills and qualifications, whether it is in basic skills such as literacy and numeracy or through one of the thousands of vocational or academic courses available. Whatever their situation, I would encourage people to consider all the options and grasp these opportunities.”