Limavady woman Carolann Carlile is the first to admit she likes a challenge but, as she rhymes off the string of events that happened when she opened her business last year, even she wonders how she coped.
The 27-year-old owner of award winning business - ‘The Cupcake’ in Dungiven – a home bakery and café – isn’t joking when she says: “Anything that could go wrong did go wrong.”
Thanks to the Prince’s Trust and Invest Northern Ireland’s tailored advice and support programme ‘Go For It’, Carolann opened the Main Street business in March. Just a few weeks later she discovered she was pregnant with her third child. While Carolann and her partner Ruairi McBride were delighted and over the moon with the news, she admits the timing could have been better.
Then, during the arctic conditions over the winter, she crashed her car, was confined to bed with swine flu and the business suffered a burst pipe. If that wasn’t bad enough, disaster struck again when an oil leak was discovered forcing the colourful café to temporarily close.
Despite it all, ambitious Carolann was honoured with a number of prestigious awards from the Roe Valley Business Awards and the RBS Enterprise Award at The Prince’s Trust & L’Oréal Paris Celebrate Success Awards in London. TV star Christine Bleakley, who presented the award to Carolann, said: “Carolann is an inspiration, not only to her own children, but to young people everywhere. She has shown that with a lot of determination and hard work, young people can create a job not only for themselves but for others in the community.”
Carolann also met and chatted with Girls Aloud star Cheryl Cole who attended the glittering awards ceremony in London.
“It has been a year of peaks and troughs, ups and downs,” says Carolann, “but it’s all a learning curve. I admit, it’s been difficult, but it’s worth it.”
From as far back as she can remember, mum-of-three Carolann was always baking and she devoured cook books and magazines.
“I just love it when someone eats something I made and smiles. Baking is a way of expressing love in the home and I think that is missing a lot these days.”
Throughout the years she thrived at her hobby, making cakes for birthdays and weddings, tray bakes and all sorts of delicious treats for family and friends. So when the opportunity to run her own business presented itself Carolann jumped at it.
She opened the business on March 16, last year, and had to close at lunchtime because she was sold out of food and produce.
Fast forward a year and a bit and Carolann is eager to re-open and get back to her hobby which she has turned into a thriving business. Not one content to take things easy, Carolann has now become a mentor as part of 2011 Inspire & mentor program run by top glossy magazine, Marie Claire.
For Carolann, it is her way of giving back as she recalls the help she had throughout her career. She knows just how important it is.
Revealed to readers in this month’s issue of the top selling monthly, Carolann is participating in the mentor scheme with some of the biggest names in the world of interior design, fashion and beauty – designers like Lisa Stickley and make up guru Jemma Kidd.
“I mightn’t have the career most of the others have but I do have experience of setting up my own business and what that takes. I just hope I am worthy of it and do it well, but I am over the moon about it all,” she says, modestly. RBS, who sponsored one of the awards she won, is treating Carolann to a trip to world-renowned tennis championship Wimbledon this summer.
“When I look back at the last year I can’t believe it. Everyday I count my blessings and I am thankful for all I have and all the opportunities I’ve had. When they come up you have to go for them. I try to set a good example for my girls,” she said, adding: “I just can’t wait to get back up and running. I have lots of ideas!”
No doubt fans of Carolann’s mouth watering home baked treats will only be too happy to see it the ‘Open” sign on the door in the next few weeks.