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QM alumna now supplying vegan cakes on campus

Friday 1 March 2013

Karen Baratram, QM alumna, has come a long way since her MSc in Environmental Consultancy. Since applying for and winning funding from QM, Karen’s vegan cake business, RonLikesCakes, has gone from strength to strength, and is now being stocked in QM catering outlets at Mile End - Muccis, the People’s Palace and the Senior Common Room, Queens’ Building.

Karen tells us about how RonLikesCakes came into being:
“It seems like a long time ago but the idea for my business started when I was travelling around North America in 2007 after finishing my degree in biology.  I stayed at the Californian Farm Sanctuary where the staff looked after sick and abandoned animals taken in from the factory farming industry.  Whilst I was there I had to maintain a vegan diet, out of respect for the farm’s ethos. “

“After I left the farm I continued with my vegan diet and when I returned to London I found that I had great difficulty in finding vegan products, especially cake. So I started to bake cakes myself and began to get positive feedback from my family and friends, following this I decided to set up my own business.  I set up a basic website in 2009 and starting making orders in my home kitchen. In June 2010, whilst I was in the midst of my MSc in Environmental Consultancy at Queen Mary, I applied for and won the (KEEN) Knowledge East Enterprise Network test trade funding from QM and the KEEN live angels pitch. This gave me, and my confidence in the business, a considerable boost as I received positive feedback from impartial people. “

“After finishing my Masters course I started to work as a contract Business Analyst in order to secure funds to pay off some of my student debt, pay my own bills and to raise funds to set the business up properly. I decided to secure the funds for the start-up myself as I did not want to take out business loans that would accrue interest whilst I was only running the business part time. In July 2012 I gave up full time work and began to look for a workshop business space to rent. In November 2012 I found the new home for RonLikesCakes in North West London, moved in and set forth on the path of running my own business full time.”

“Having shared my journey with QM along the way the next step was to make sure that QM students were able to access RonLikesCakes products so I worked with the Catering department to come up with a range of products suitable for campus. “

“We came up with a great range of fresh fruit mini loaves using juicy granny smith apples, fresh grated carrots and lovely ripe bananas, as well as delicious chewy vanilla, chocolate chunk and raisin cookies and of course not forgetting our amazing dark chocolate rocky roads laced with plump raisins and shards of golden biscuit.”

“All of the products are of course vegan and some products are also gluten free and will be in stock from Wednesday 27 February in Muccis and the People’s Palace, so keep an eye out for some mouth-watering cakes on campus!“

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