Meet the MD: Harpreet Baura of Crumbs Couture

What does your role include?

I am the owner of cake company Crumbs Couture and am in the process of launching a new patisserie company Bijou Choux.

My role involves everything from driving the strategic direction of the businesses to taking orders, purchasing ingredients and doing deliveries.

When needed, I often still step in and do some baking and decorating but I do have a wonderful team who look after that side of things!


What is it the company does?

Crumbs Couture produces cupcakes, cakes, brownies and many other treats which are delivered and sold at London’s Fortnum and Mason as well as the Selfridges Food Hall and restaurants.

Bijou Choux is specifically all about choux pastry and produces éclairs, choux balls and a new pastry hybrid called Le Chouxnut. As well as supplying to London Stores, we supply directly to the public for events such as birthdays, baby showers, corporate events and weddings.


Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

Having studied Economics and Geography at University College London, I went to Law school and was lucky enough to secure a Training Contract at Linklaters LLP.

During my training contract I felt as though I may be better suited to doing something a little more creative, outside of the city, and that is when Crumbs Couture was born. I had the idea for Bijou Choux a few years later and have launched that venture this year.


What do you believe makes a great leader?

A great leader is one who knows the time to lead and when to get stuck in with the rest of your team and get the job done.

Honesty with clients as well as your colleagues is very important, as is inspiring the people around you and leading by example.

Show passion for what you do, every day. After all, how can you expect your colleagues to be motivated if you are not?


What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

Managing my businesses alongside being the mum of a boisterous little boy has been a huge challenge. During my pregnancy and the early months of being a mum, my business was just treading water.

We were doing the bare minimum number of orders that were needed to pay the rent. I had no time to try and seek more business, and my staff were working reduced hours; it was essentially a skeleton service of a business. When my son turned one, I decided that I needed to make a change.

It was time to either take a risk and invest more time and money into the business, or it needed to be wrapped up. I took that risk, took on more staff and dreamt big. I contacted buyers, I spent hours developing recipes and new products. Thankfully, that risk paid off. In February this year we became the cake suppliers for Fortnum and Mason, and in May we began to supply Selfridges.

Team numbers have trebled and we are about to move to a bigger kitchen. Bijou Choux has also added an extra facet to what we are doing which is very exciting. There is a certain amount of guilt that comes with leaving your child and going to work every day, but I remind myself that I am doing this for him, and that he is thriving in childcare while he is away from me.


How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

My favourite time of day is when I am at home giving my son his dinner, his bath or reading to him before bed.

I am 100% focused on life outside of work, my mobile and laptop are far away and I can be mummy again.

We live in a part of Chiswick that is very close to the Thames, and on good days I like nothing more than to walk along the river towards Hammersmith.

At the end of the day, when I need to switch off before bed, nothing works better than a hot drink and some mindless nonsense on the television!


When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be an artist or an author. I have always had a creative artistic streak, which got obscured a little when I went through the motions of choosing a career in the city. I am thankful each day for having the chance to be creative in my job again!


Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?

I like to see people challenge themselves and learn, and I like nothing more than encouraging my colleagues to take time away from paid orders to learn a new skill and develop their portfolio.

What frustrates me is when people don't seize these opportunities, and they simply maintain their skills at the status quo. We should all be challenging ourselves daily, even if it is just a small task!


Where do you see the company in five years time?

A bigger bakery, a bigger team and a bigger order book. Simply put, bigger!


What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Remember that businesses are dynamic and the best businesses change in response to what their market demands of them.

Do not be afraid to change, to admit defeat once in a while and to be surprised by where your business may take you.

No one has their leadership path set in stone; the best business leaders adapt and change with their businesses. 

Published: 25 July 2016

Article by Bryce Wilcock
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