Image Credit: Instagram - @lockdown.bakery
Lockdown has seen many of us taking up new hobbies, from learning new languages and how to knit, to becoming a cyclist or running enthusiast. But the one we have all tried our hand at is baking. I don’t think there is a single household in the UK that didn’t bake multiple banana breads or sourdough loaves during the first lockdown, yet York student Izzy Mainprize took baking to a whole new level when she set up her aptly named bakery business, Lockdown Bakery. After drooling over the fabulous looking cakes on her Instagram for far too long, I decided to get in touch with Izzy to ask her about all things cake and Lockdown Bakery.
If you haven’t come across the Lockdown Bakery on Instagram, you can check it out at @lockdown.bakery. Izzy’s cupcakes and celebration cakes are elaborate, colourful and guaranteed to make your mouth water! I was completely shocked when Izzy told me that prior to the first lockdown (tragically, we have to specify now) she had never baked before: “people expect me to be in love with baking but I never have been.” She explains that her Mum contracted COVID-19 during the first lockdown, and while the whole family were stuck in isolation she decided to utilise her free time to start baking.
At the time of writing, Izzy has amassed an incredible 5,585 Instagram followers, a following she has built in less than a year. She is baffled, however, as to how she reached this number. When asked how she has managed to spread the word and gain so many followers, she says: “a lot of it is from giveaways, donating to local hospital workers and other key workers since the pandemic began, then from there it becomes word of mouth. I did not expect 5000 followers to happen anytime soon!”
Everyone could do with some sweet treats during these uncertain times, but it is such a lovely gesture that Izzy has donated her bakes to local hospitals and other key workers. Something as small as cake can show our appreciation for the NHS during these challenging times. She says, “I like to bake to give back to people, especially the NHS and key workers, so I try to bake a lot and do giveaways for nominated key workers.” Her giveaways are posted regularly on her Instagram, so give it a follow and keep a look out for the chance to win a selection of incredible cakes!
From Valentine and Christmas themed cupcakes to gorgeously decorated tiered birthday cakes, and fantastically creative themed cakes, like her Super Mario or giraffe birthday cakes, Izzy has a real talent. She says her most requested bakes are her drip cakes or cookie bars, but her favourite bakes are those that let her be creative and try something new, “I love doing anything for a family member where it’s a surprise; seeing their faces when they first see the cake is my favourite.”
Izzy says that her coolest experience with the business has been working with online clothing company Pretty Little Thing during Pride, creating beautiful rainbow themed cupcakes. Despite being a great moment for her business, she admitted it was also “the most stressful experience of my life. I don’t think I have ever stood up for as long as I did that day!” She has also made cupcakes for a cast member of Fate: The Winx Saga, and most recently for Youtuber and influencer Anastasia Kingsnorth. Izzy made some Valentine’s cupcakes for Kingsnorth and her friends, securing her a shoutout in her recent vlog. She has also treated the lucky cheerleaders at the University of York with the York Hornet themed cupcakes she created for them last term (I can confirm that my best friend is part of York Hornets, and they were incredible!).
In terms of the future, Izzy is uncertain as to where she wants the business to go and how big she wants it to become after she graduates: “I don't think I will do the business full time; I want to focus on my career in psychology and get on the path to becoming a clinical psychologist and help people this way (rather than with cake!).” At the moment she manages to balance the business with her university studies, explaining that as we are in lockdown it is manageable for her to do so much baking, as everyone is so bored at the moment.
Izzy started the business during the pandemic, and I was keen to find out whether she thinks it has helped her personally deal with the pandemic and the impact it has had on her mental health during these confusing times. She says that it most definitely has: “I think I’ve been so busy I sometimes forget we’re in a pandemic, so I don’t even have time to focus on the negatives.” The toll the pandemic has taken on people, particularly within the student demographic, has been huge, and it is easy to see how starting a huge business venture that has gone from success to success can really help keep the focus away from the chaotic world of today.
A key message to take from the Lockdown Bakery is how important it is to make time for yourself and throw yourself into something outside of your work or studies. Izzy’s story highlights that anything is possible, and you should never say never! What better time than lockdown to commit to an existing hobby, or even in Izzy’s case, start a completely new one? Izzy is excited to see where the business goes after the pandemic, but for now is happy to be spreading joy through cake.