From starting in a tiny kitchen in Jordan to taking the leap to London, Butter Believe It has evolved from a baking business online to a bakery where experience has become an incremental part of the package. A shopfront decorated to suit the seasons, show-stopping cakes served in homely setting, and flavours that feel nostalgic and new at once – chef Haya is the creative force behind it all. Still in her chef’s apron and fuelled by one too many coffees, she shares her story as well as tips for those with a similar entrepreneurial spirit…
How did Butter Believe It start in Jordan?
I was always the one baking cakes for family and friends, but when I received my pastry degree from Le Cordon Blue, I started taking orders online via Instagram. That’s when things got serious: mum kicked me out of her kitchen, I was encouraged to get my own space and Butter Believe It went from a one-woman-show to a team of five.
Why did you want to open a cake shop in London?
I love London. It’s where I studied, it’s where history goes hand in hand with innovation, and where I met my husband/business partner Yazan. We are both happiest here.
How has Butter Believe It changed since moving to London?
We’ve gone from solely taking orders online to serving customers in our very own shop in Spitalfields. It’s been an amazing change because we get to meet great people every day, and see their faces light up when they take their first bite.
How has London influenced your cakes?
London has allowed me to be more experimental with flavours. People here embrace bold flavours and are always on the hunt for something new; our best-selling cakes have all been inspired by this city. The Earl Risers cake (Earl Grey-infused sponge with a raspberry and lemon zest filling) is a nod to afternoon tea, the 24-Carrot Cake is completely gluten-free, and Monkey Business borrows elements from an indulgent brunch.
What are the challenges you faced when opening an actual shop?
You really have to fine-tune your management skills: make sure everyone knows what they’re doing, keep stock high at all times, and manage crowds of people.
What does your day look like?
Every day is different, but it mostly involves a lot of baking, frosting and heaps amount of coffee. Errands, there are always so many errands to run. And cake for lunch (don’t tell my husband).
What do you look for in your employees?
Kindness number one, enthusiasm and attentiveness. I look at those things before anything else, because skills can be taught but kindness can’t.
What’s the best part about having a cake shop in London?
Having a sense of fulfilment; it’s very fulfilling to create something, share it with people and see the reaction then and there.
And the worst?
My work-life balance is non-existent. Being married to my partner in business means the conversations always revolve around work: did you order coffee bags is the new “good morning” and laptops are in bed until we pass out.
Custom cakes are a big part of Butter Believe It – what’s your favourite cake you’ve ever made?
A cookie cascade cake I did for a wedding, because they combine the two treats I love most.
Current favourite cake on the menu?
ChocoNutty. It’s rich, fudgy and my go-to comfort food cake.
Any plans for more cake shops in London?
We definitely want to be in other areas to share our love for cake, and cookies…
What advice would you give other people who dream of opening a cake shop in London?
- It will always cost more than you think.
- Don’t take things too personally. Food is subjective and while you should always listen to feedback, always remember what your brand stands for. It’s not your job to be everything to everyone.
- Keep going, even if it feels like it’s going nowhere. It will, eventually.