A story of success on World Autism Day
You may recognise ambassador Cait Kostka and her wonderful bakes from previous blogs and today we’re so pleased to be sharing the latest chapter in Cait’s story. Despite the challenges presented by Covid-19 restrictions, she’s managed to take her business to new heights!
In celebration of World Autism Awareness Day on 2nd April, we caught up with Cait who used ILF Scotland Transition Fund support to start her bakery business Cait’s Bakes. Find out how she has grown and developed her business, even during lockdown!
Cait’s Bakes flourished this year!
Cait’s business took a hit in 2020 when she couldn’t sell her baked goods due to restrictions. Nonetheless, she kept busy in the garden, planting flowers and feeding the birds while laying groundwork for getting her business fully up and running again. Cait began home growing produce in her greenhouse to use in her baking, including courgettes, potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries, pepper, mint and herbs.
With all the family at home last year, Cait and her relatives helped her take stock and recoup. Together, they supported Cait’s grandfather aged 94, who was shielding, helping with shopping and dropping off cakes to cheer him up. Cait teamed up with her sister who is vegan to develop the menu to cater to vegan and non-dairy customers. They adapted it further to offer a delivery service and were kept busy in March 2020 with repeat orders as well as treats for Easter and special boxes for Mother’s day and cake orders for a local shop in Thornhill.
A huge highlight came about when a big order came in for Christmas care packages containing snowmen Christmas cakes, mince pies and chocolate orange truffles!
How ILF Scotland support has helped
This year, Cait used ILF Scotland funding for a camera and a computer to take photos of her appetising bakes, get these out on social media and adapt her business for online customers. She’s also been using the laptop for creating recipes, making posters and creating menus.
Being able to develop the business through technology has helped her to maintain her second year in business during Covid-19. All of Cait’s sales have been made online through her Facebook page, thanks to the superb photos of tasty cakes and cupcakes and occasion cakes for those who have had not one but two birthday celebrations in lockdown!
Cait has used her Facebook page to advertise deliveries in the local Dumfries and Galloway area within 5 miles of the Thornhill area and has driven herself to drop off afternoon teas, including veggie scone boxes.
It has been wonderful to hear that Cait has overcome the challenges of the pandemic and that her business has taken a new turn thanks to her focus on building her presence online.
Cait says: “I feel that I have been lucky during this time. Having the whole family with me during lockdown has helped. My sister finished university and is at home along with my brother and Mum and Dad. It has been a busy house and the oven is on every day!
“I’ve missed out on a few things like the local market, which would have taken my business across the region, but talking with the older people in our community who understand why we need the lockdowns (having lived through a war) have helped me to get through it.
“ILF Scotland have helped me not only with the funding, but to expand my social circle too and make new friends. I keep in touch with Ryan Cuzen who I met at the Transition Fund awards ceremony. We sat at a table with his Mum and the ILF Scotland team. We had good conversations and we’ve been friends ever since. We have similar interests and support one another, even sending each other gifts!
“I turn 22 in July and my sister turns 23 so we are looking forward to having a joint party in the back garden. I am going to make a new flavour of cake to mark the occasion of course!”
Cait’s next moves
Cait has already been featured in the Dumfries and Galloway Life magazine and dreams of making it into other mainstream media like the Great British Bake Off, Good Food and Great British Beer Festival. We have no doubt that we will see and hear more about Cait and Cait’s Bakes!
This is a powerful story of hope for other young people living with autism in the UK. The challenges that disabled people face on a daily basis are undeniable, but Cait’s story of running a successful business proves that living a fulfilling life is absolutely possible with the right support.