by Kate Chaundy
Walking through the crowded streets of Carnaby Street, the Christmas illuminations are matched by the shining lights of designer brands all lined up with impressive shop windows and offers. Go around the corner and you find an unassuming cake shop called Crumbs and Doilies – easily missed if you weren’t looking and you might wonder how such a place exists in the climate of extortionate rents that even the big chains are fighting against. When this shop was opened by Jemma Wilson, she took no investment and was working 18-19 hours a day to make it work. What’s her secret weapon? YouTube. ‘Cupcake Jemma’ has nearly 1 million subscribers to her channel. The big brands could learn a thing or to as that number is hundreds of thousands more than the likes of her neighbours Puma or Benefit have. It’s had a tremendous effect on her business and its popularity has helped drive people to the physical shop – not just from people in London but across the UK and even the world.
In fact, the platform has had a massive effect on the baking industry in general, with thousands of channels dedicated to the craft, with how-to videos being the most popular. Jemma predicts at least half of the customers in her shop have first been Cupcake Jemma YouTube fans (Evening Standard) which means she must make sure she meets their expectations and has the correct brand continuity from screen to real-life. Through an online channel, it allows people to reach such a diverse selection of people as you can cater for just about anything; dietary requirements, kitchen restrictions, portions, locations, technical ability and income.
And the added benefit of her online presence is that she can see what is popular or not immediately through site analytics. She knows that classic flavours always do well online and can measure that with in-store purchases. Quirky recipes such as mirror glazes or rainbow cakes do well across both because they are perfect for social media sharing – which continues the cycle of popularity: customers come in, purchase, take pictures and share. This then drives people back to the YouTube channel and then often to the store itself. Astonishingly, if you look at the view count on some of her videos, more people have watched her bake than have watched the new Star Wars film!
You can watch her in action here or visit the store at 1 Kingly Street, Carnaby, LONDON, W1B 5PW