We sat down with Maria for a flat white and some divine home made chocolates! She is the founder of Bake With Maria, a Baking Lab in the heart of St John’s Wood. The Baking Lab also hosts baking parties and cooking parties for kids birthdays, providing a fully packaged birthday: the venue, the baking class, the birthday tea, the cake and the goody bag! “All of the fun and none of the mess”
Maria took us through the start of her project and the challenges she had to face:
ParentVille: How did the project start?
Maria: I was working in an office and trying to think of ways I could spend more time on my hobby – baking. I set up a website and offered classes on Wednesday nights in my own kitchen. Within a few months I had 6 people every Wednesday in my kitchen baking bread for 4 hours.
P: How did you find the space?
M: I outgrew my home kitchen and needed a dedicated space for the classes. I met with Camden council and they took me to see a few places all within the council.
P: What was your biggest challenge when you first started?
M : I had to build everything from scratch – the Baking Lab was an empty shell and I had to decide on all the equipment, tables, ovens etc
P: Tell us more about the cooking classes. How did you come up with the content and the structure?
M: I always start by what I love to bake myself. Then I try to find a theme around this. I make sure that there is some variety in the class and that various skills within baking are taught so the students go home and really feel like they have learned something new.
P: What is your biggest achievement so far?
M: Not having to work in an office for someone else
P: How do you keep your work/life balance? Tell us about a typical day in the life of Maria.
M: I get up pretty early with my 2 kids. I spend a few hours in the morning having breakfast and playing with my toddler and baby before we leave for nursery around 10am. Then I try to do something fun just for my baby and I before we have lunch and a long walk whilst she naps. Instead of walking I often head to the Baking Lab and catch up on things with my colleague Benny. Around 4pm I head back to the nursery to pick up my son. Then home to make dinner and play before bed time at 7. From 7.30-10.30 I take care of work emails and other work related things.
P: What are your favourite hangout places / activities as a family?
M: We spend a lot of our weekends in the Zoo. Either here in London or Whipsnade. The London transport museum is also a firm favourite and most Wednesdays we head to Hullabaloo at the Sheriff centre.
P: Is there any advice that you would give to a mum or dad who wants to start a business?
M: Ask your friends for help. When I first set up the Baking Lab I spent a weekend with all of my friends painting and cleaning.
P: What are your future plans?
M: I would love to own a cafe one day.
P: Your funniest parenting moment?
M: That’s a tough one, but I do love baking with my son. He really makes me laugh when he teaches me how to knead dough and give the bread rolls an egg wash!
Bake with Maria hosts baking an cooking birthday parties for children, you can check them out on our Party Platform.