If I have an idea the first thing I do is write it down so I don’t forget! Then, If its a recipe, I just get in the kitchen and do it!
Actress and cake designer Roxanne Saili originates from the Midlands and moved to London at the age of 18. With an Egyptian, Italian-Maltese mother and a Persian father, Roxanne grew up in a dramatic household of exotic flavours and developed a passion for good quality, luxurious food.
Roxanne’s love for baking however hails from her mother, “Mamma Lisa”, whose flair for baking gave Roxanne the palette for real, authentic, delicious food. Roxanne began baking for the first time at drama school. In preparation for the part of an Irish cook, she entered the kitchen and discovered a skill for all things sweet.
Roxy began baking for charities and special events, before developing her passion into the RoxyRara business. She has completed a Diploma in sugar craft, baked for high profile weddings, celebrities and catered big corporate events. She works with some amazing London venues and is busy acting and designing cakes for the fashionistas of London.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I’m working on my Christmas range.
Where did the idea for RoxyRara come from?
I originally trained as an Actress and did a three year BA Hons acting degree at Italia Conti, I had no idea I would pursue a career in baking. In fact, despite my mother throughout my childhood being a fantastic cook and baker, I had never baked a thing in my life until my third year show at drama school. I was given the lead role of Dolly in ‘Dolly West’s Kitchen’. In preparation for the part of an Irish cook, I was told by my director to cook and bake as much as possible. This was the first time I experimented in the kitchen and discovered a skill and love for all things sweet. From then on I baked for family and friends whilst acting and auditioning. It was the feedback I received from people about my baking that made me wonder whether this would be something worth doing as a career. I fell in love with every aspect of baking: I collected books, went on courses and even applied and got down to the last few applicants for the hit reality BBC baking show ‘The Great British Bake Off’. Baking for Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood really gave me the confidence in my ability to start thinking about selling my skills and becoming a business woman. With the support of my family and sister (Rara) I plucked up the courage to set up my own business. Since then I haven’t looked back. Working for myself I now have the freedom to do all the things I love and get paid for them!
How do you make money?
The big bucks come from high end weddings and corporate catering. We have arrangements with some fabulous venues that promote us to their clients. We also make cakes, cookies and treats for smaller occasions like birthdays and christenings. All of my work is bespoke and handmade to the client’s specification so I’m not being paid just for a cake but for a one of a kind edible artistic sculpture.
What does your typical day look like?
The great thing about what I do is that everyday is different. I’d hate to get up and have the same day planned week after week. The only routine I have is getting up between 6-9am (depending on the meetings/orders I have that week), I go to the gym in the morning and then turn the ovens on for a day of baking or cake decorating. Some days I will have to make hundreds of edible roses, other days I’ll have emails or blogs to write, or I could be out working on advertising and meeting with clients for tasters. It’s a mixed bag, and I love it.
How do you bring ideas to life?
If I have an idea the first thing I do is write it down so I don’t forget! Then, If its a recipe, I just get in the kitchen and do it! If its something on the marketing or business side, I brainstorm with the RoxyRara team about whether its feasible and do the research before I take action.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The television baking/cooking craze. I love the fact that baking tips and recipes can be found in any newspaper or magazine, on most tv channels and in all the shops! A lot of the younger generation have taken to it and with so many celebrity chefs on TV, baking is now a cool thing to do! There are so many programmes about cakes and food it’s hard to get away from it – it’s fabulous. Cupcake Wars, Ace of Cakes, Cake Boss, The Great British Bake Off and Candy Queen are just a few of the fantastic shows showcasing the baking talent out there at the moment. And with so many people sharing a passion for cake, it really inspires me to get involved and perhaps teach and share some of RoxyRara’s hints and tips.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I’ve done a lot of crumby jobs from being a cleaner to a ticket seller. I think probably the hardest job was working as a makeup artist at a very famous department store in London. I love makeup and the artistry of makeup to enhance beauty – it is a great creative outlet for me. I had worked as a makeup artist previously on a one to one basis with clients for weddings/events and even branched out into special effects makeup on set. So working on the beauty counter was fun and I enjoyed meeting people and making them feel special. However, I didn’t like working for someone else, having to hit targets and sell unsuitable products to every customer in order to avoid getting ‘told off’. We were expected to just sell sell sell. I was horrified when I discovered that customers’ needs were disregarded in order to make a profit and I decided to leave when I witnessed bullying tactics used by the beauticians on the shop floor who valued sales figures over customer service.
I suppose this experience highlighted the importance of being business savvy but NOT at the expensive of good, honest customer service.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
There’s not a lot I wish I had done differently to be honest. I think each experience I’ve had (good or bad) has lead me up to the point I am at today. I probably would have stopped wasting time worrying about things out of my control and just been more confident from the outset. I think fear held me back initially where as I ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ now. I’ve realised that insecurity is boring and you have to make the most of your life and everything in it NOW!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Read and network! Whether it’s reading business books, self motivation books or educational books relating to your field of work, it all has tremendous value. I love reading all sorts of books that motivate and inspire me and I highly recommend if you ever have moments of self doubt (which we all do) to grab a self help book like ‘The Secret’ to put things in perspective. I know the whole idea of ‘self help’ makes most people cringe but there’s absolutely no shame in taking the time to heal and motivate yourself. The key is to then take action. Don’t let those moments of inspiration pass you by!
I also try to learn from others as much as possible. Almost everyday I use social networking sites to share my work and find like minded people to get advice. Through Twitter I have met some highly successful people who have now become great friends and have advised me and helped me grow. Go to seminars and workshops, even if they’re bad! You never know who could be there.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I have had lots of ‘failure’ in the past but I don’t really like to look at it as failing. I see it as things that just didn’t work out at that particular time because it wasn’t the right time. As an actress, failure and rejection is one of the things I deal with most. I have written to numerous agents, casting directors and theatre companies with little, and sometimes no, response. Even when I have got through the door and bagged myself an audition, most of the time it’s “don’t call us, we’ll call you”. Now what do you do when this seems to be happening all the time? Change your strategy. You can’t keep doing the same thing and expect to get a different result. So not knowing how, I decided to just focus on making money and being happy and that was when the RoxyRara brand was formed. I still go for auditions and keep my finger in the acting pie but the fear of rejection has gone and I feel empowered and in control of my career rather than helpless and desperate.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Cake that makes you lose weight. If you could design a cake with ingredients that make you shed the pounds without compromising on taste and decoration you will be a zillionaire!
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I heard at a conference recently that if you shared all the wealth in the world with everyone on the planet equally we would all have at least £1 million each. I think most of us are thinking… “Who’s got my money?! ”
On a serious note, it’s ludicrous to think some people can’t even have a drink of clean water. Maybe if we shared the wealth, infectious disease would be eradicated: everyone would have clean drinking water, sanitation and essential medication.
Tell us a secret.
I have a crush on Trey Parker (the co-writer of South Park).
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
Google: the world at your fingertips! Who doesn’t need Google on a daily basis?
Twitter: you can connect with anyone if they’re on twitter, even the President of the United States tweets!
Facebook: I post all my cake pictures and info on my RoxyRara Facebook page and it’s another great way to connect and share with people.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway - most people let fear hold them back from living their dreams. This gives you ways to deal with what is holding you back and to just go for all the things you want in life.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why? (please don’t include yourself)
@archer_street – There are a lot of fantastic things about this cocktail bar in Soho. Not only does it do delicious cocktails and was the runner up for the ‘Best Bar in London 2012′ award, the bar staff are all trained singers/performers and they burst into song when you least expect. I’ve spent many a fun night there and I now supply them with RoxyRara cakes. Cake and cocktails… What could be better?!
@InOurShoes – I love the concept of ‘In Our Shoes’. It explores the success of women leaders, entrepreneurs and young female professionals by sharing lessons learned via inspiring interviews, seminars and workshops challenging women to ‘go with their gut’ and have it all… the business and the family! Follow Marisa for hints, tips and great advice to making it as a woman in business.
@coach_farrell – This is my personal trainer! After living, breathing and eating cake it’s always good to be put through my paces and keep a healthy balance. Coach Farrell is a strength and conditioning coach who I can’t recommend highly enough.
I know you’ve only asked for three people but I had to mention one more…
@BradBurton: he’s a no nonsense business tycoon who’s not only motivational but hilarious. He’s a top bloke and a very savvy business man!
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
This is a tough one. I laugh a lot and I’m trying to think of the funniest time to tell you about so you don’t think I’m unfunny! Unfortunately, probably not funny to anyone else, the last time I laughed out loud was this morning with my Mamma. She always makes me literally cry with laughter because she doesn’t even know she’s funny! I can’t even remember what we laughed about!
Who is your hero?
I have so many! My parents, my siblings, my family and friends are all absolute heros… If we’re talking celebrities, then I love Beyonce.
Who would you most like to bake a cake for and why?
I would love to bake a cake for my Nan. She passed away when I was 9 so she never got to see my passion for food. I’m sure she’d have a lot to teach me! She was a great woman and a great cook.
So what’s next for RoxyRara?
Well, I’m hoping to continue to expand. There’s so much I want to achieve. One day, I’d like to see my cakes on the shelves in Selfridges and Harrods. I’d like to get involved with recipe books, TV shows and editorials. I want to start teaching my techniques and skills too. It’s all so exciting, I can’t wait to see what the future holds. Whatever’s in store for me, it’s going to be sweet!