Cakes, booze and pretty ladies all in one room sounds too good to be true; however this Tuesday, such temptations were in abundance at the Pin-Ups and Pinnies‘ launch at Matt and Phreds in Manchester’s trendy and, quite aptly, vintage obsessed Northern Quarter.
Amaretto and Limencello mini cupcakes (I ate at least six, then I stopped counting…)
Welcomed by a very vintage lady (not old, just glamorous) and handed a glass of fizz, we were whisked by Alex, the brains behind Pin-Ups in Pinnies, in to the moody darkness where we were plied with more bubbles and oodles of mini cupcakes brought round by some delectable pin-ups, al a cinema interval ice-cream ladies from the good old days.
Alex Barnett – owner of Pin-Ups and Pinnies
Pin-Ups in Pinnies is a bespoke cupcake company, which has created a unique approach to help them stand out from the raft of other cupcakeries that have sprung up in the last year; offering boozy cupcake flavours injected with that 50’s glamour that is so sought after at the moment.
That’s not so different, you say, but do other cake companies come to your event and serve the sweet treats dressed as 50s glamour pusses? Or provide you with your own glamorous pinnies so you can come over all Mad Men in your own kitchen? Or teach you burlesque in the privacy of your own home, whilst feeding you cakes and cocktails in the process (indeed, Alex is a professional burlesque performer with the stage name Fanny Divine)?
The versatility of the company, combined with Alex’s creative approach and her development of a unique experience means that Pin-Ups In Pinnies looks like it’ll out last the simple fad for cupcakes and bring 50’s glamour to all.
Some of the cakey delights we got to sample at the event
(Oh and the event was a super success, we gorged on cakes and bubbles – my favourites were the light and tangy limencello, the smooth amaretto; plus the wonderfully punchy anis and almost savoury notes of the absinthe mini-cakes).
I grabbed a few short minutes with Alex to quiz her about the ins and outs of Pin-Ups In Pinnies before we were sucked in and spellbound by the night’s entertainment – a powerful serenading from the wonderful Em Brulee and some tantalising, naughty, nipple-covered fun from the aptly named Sherry Trifle.
Sherry Trifle teasing the launch party guests – with thanks to Nick Beedles
Alex, How did you get in to baking?
I used to bake a lot with my mum when I was younger and have always loved to make pretty, tasty cakes. I took a slight break from baking (and anything that didn’t involve a microwave or kettle!) during my student years, but got back in to it again with a renewed sense of passion once I moved in to my own place.
Not sure Alex looked like this when baking with her mum!
Why did you decide to set up your own cake making business?
Due to the recession I found it very difficult to find a job that I actually wanted to do. Despite the fact that I have qualifications in both philosophy and law, I found myself working in mind numbingly boring jobs where I would spend the days daydreaming about what I wished I could be doing instead. So I decided that instead of sitting around waiting for the perfect job to come to me, I would go out and create it for myself! It was then just a matter of deciding what it was I was going to do. I had been baking cupcakes for my work colleagues and people would often say “oooh..you should do this for a living” and every time I would answer with the usual “oh, don’t be silly!” Then one day it occurred to me, why couldn’t I do it for a living? So, I combined my loves of vintage, Pin-Up, events and cakes to create the unique business that is Pin-Ups in Pinnies.
What has been the hardest thing in setting up a business?
It has been quite difficult setting up a business in the current economic climate; I would say that the hardest thing really comes down to the cost of it all. I’m lucky in that the type of business I have chosen to set up has relatively small set up costs (which is part of the reason I decided to give it a go!) However, as they say – nothing comes for free. So it has been a matter of doing as much promotion and advertising for as small a cost as possible, which just takes a little creative thinking.
How did you settle on the 50’s theme?
I absolutely love the 1950’s so it was natural for me to go for this type of styling as I’ve always been drawn towards the era. I generally dress in a 1950’s style myself and am rarely seen without red lipstick and 50’s hair! I think that cupcakes and the 1950’s go hand in hand. The 1950’s was all about big hair and even bigger dresses and it was also a time that thrived on home baking and boozy treats!
50’s inspired Alex
How do people react to this theme?
So far we’ve had a great reaction. It helps that there has been a recent resurgence in all things vintage so people are more in tune with the 1950’s and home baking. The 1950’s was such a feminine era that sits perfectly alongside pretty, girly cupcakes.
Have you had any strange requests?
Not yet, but I look forward to having some!
How is the business going?
Cath Kidston, so I think this is a great sign of things to come! I feel quite optimistic about the future of Pin-Ups in Pinnies and think that business will hopefully keep getting better. We have also been getting a fair amount of press lately and were interviewed on BBC Radio Manchester last week.
I hope that this will be the year that I finally succeed at world domination (we’ve all got to have dreams, right?)! But in all seriousness, I am hoping to be able to expand the business to its own venue (whether that is just an industrial kitchen or a bakery) and also to have my own custom made vintage ice-cream van that I can take to festivals and vintage weekends along with my delicious boozy treats and my gorgeous pin-ups to hand them out. Soon I’ll be getting some merchandise made so hopefully people will be able to wear their own Pin-Ups in Pinnies t-shirts and pinnies soon (ooh yes please – ed).
Ps Pin-Ups in Pinnies run special girly nights
and also run a monthly competition
to find the perfect pin-up, get yourself entered!