WHEN Poppy Muricane told a teacher at a private school in Glasgow that her dream was to own a coffee shop, she says the career advisor laughed and said: ‘don’t be ridiculous.’
She left school at 16, with a few, average grade highers, in stark contrast to her high achieving siblings, who had all gone to university.
Fast forward 13 years and the 29-year-old now owns a thriving business and cafe on the city’s West End selling ‘sugar free’ raw cakes and has catered for celebrity vegan Stella McCartney – all in the space of two years and with no catering training.
But now without a lot of hard work, determination and perseverance. She said: “It’s a lot of hard work, because I’m having to juggle making the cakes, running a wholesale cake business and running a cafe. I have to get up at 5am and work 10-hour days but I love it.”
Poppy says her parents despaired when after being in Thailand on a ‘gap year’ directly after leaving school, she told them she wasn’t coming home because she had fallen in love.
She ended up staying for six years, teaching English and scuba diving to tourists.
After that relationship fell apart she moved to Copenhagen to be with a man she had met the day the day before.
She says: “I didn’t like school so I left as soon as I could. I think my teachers probably thought I was quite lazy.
“I left school at 16 and didn’t go home for eight years. I basically phoned my mum and said ‘I’ve got a Thai boyfriend, I’m not coming home.
“Then I met a Danish guy while I was in Thailand. He was leaving the next day and sent me a letter saying, ‘I know this sounds crazy but I’ve fallen in love with you, will you come to Copenhagen,’ and I said yes.
“When I came back I had nothing really, I hadn’t been to university, and my parents are quite traditional, my dad’s a doctor and my mum’s a primary school teacher.
“I’ve got three siblings who had all been to university and are all doing well and then I came back and had no idea of what I wanted to do.”
After the relationship with the Danish man broke down, Poppy moved back to Scotland to live with her father, a GP in a rural area near Oban in the Scottish Highlands, where she became interested in healthy eating and started experimenting with raw cakes, which are made using sugar substitutes such as maca powder, nuts, coconut oil and fruit.
She says: “I started running and got really into health eating but through that I found raw cakes. My dad’s partner had a birthday coming round and it turned out really nicely and I decorated it with edible flowers.
“I put a picture on Facebook and people started writing to me and saying I should do a business.”
Things really took off for Poppy after she landed a slot at the Let’s Eat Glasgow food festival, through a family friend, giving her the exposure of up to 10,000 potential customers.
She says: “I basically Googled how to start your own food business and that night I registered, did a little mind map and came up with the name.
“I had two months prepare for the stall. My stall was the busiest there, I sold out and then people approached me, restaurateurs asking if they could stock my cakes.
“People say the benefits for eating raw food is that it isn’t cooked so the enzymes and nutrients aren’t destroyed so you retain as much goodness. To be frank, I cannot bake for hell so the fact that the cakes are raw is wonderful for me.”
Poppy now makes cakes for Piece in Finnieston, Grassroots Cafe and Rose & Grants, Purple Cat Cafe and other cafes in Dalkeith and Oban after starting out in her mum’s kitchen.
She was asked to supply a vegan cake for a photo shoot by fashion designer Stella McCartney and has also been approached by Cancer charities to supply cakes for patients who are restricting refined sugar from their diet.
Her most popular cake is the salted caramel and she now hopes to expand into wedding cakes.
She says: “I would just love people to know that you don’t have to go to university to do well. Things are moving very slowly but it’s changing.”
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