News

Cooking up a career

By Seymour Telegraph

Peta Crowl was stuck living in a shed with her baby son when she decided she had to do something.

Before finding herself in the shed, she was the only female beer plumber in Australia and had been running a successful business in Port Macquarie.

But when life got complicated, she decided to leave her business and move to Melbourne.

‘‘I went from being a beer plumber, earning great money, $85 a hour to pretty much having nothing,’’ she said.

On one of those days when she was stuck at home she stumbled across Cupcake Wars on television.

She was fascinated and decided that she would try her hand at baking, even though she had never baked anything in her life.

For five years she baked cupcakes at home and did whatever she could to sell them.

‘‘I was baking at home, walking the streets, sitting on the side of the freeway, walking into shops. Doing some really crazy stuff just to try and get back into the business world,’’ she said.

‘‘I thought I needed to do something for myself because no one else was going to.’’

Ms Crowl eventually found full-time work at the Cheesecake Factory in Epping, moving quickly from the front counter to the kitchen out the back.

She became their head baker and spent the time learning as much as she could about running that sort of business.

She said the work was extremely tough but it helped her enormously.

‘‘While I was working there, my eyes were wide open, I was watching everything, learning. I was just a sponge, absorbing everything. It taught me to be quicker because you had to multi-task and being the baker you might have 30 cakes in the oven; you’ve got a mix on that’s got 30 in it and you’re preparing the next batch and you’re putting cakes away as well that you’ve baked. So it was all multi-tasking and you had to work very hard.’’

Ms Crowl’s dream was to open her own cupcake and cake shop and a year ago she did just that.

The journey has been a tough one and she freely admits that she’s made plenty of mistakes along the way.

She has found a mentor in Cynthia Lim from Blue Tongue Berries.

‘‘She knew I was looking and I was trying different things. And one day she goes ‘here, what do you want help with?’ She wants me to strive and succeed. It’s been really good,’’ Ms Crowl said.

She is also an advocate of women educating themselves and backing themselves.

‘‘Make sure you research, research, research and just go for it. If you’ve got a dream, go for it. You can really do whatever you want if you set your mind to it, I really believe that,’’ she said.

‘‘Go and do a small business course. I did one even though I had a lot of experience in accounting.

‘‘There’s lots of short courses to help you along the way. Find a good friend in the industry that will help you and you can go to for advice.’’