A FARMER’S daughter from Meath is bringing people all over the world together as they learn to cook online with her.
Self-taught Catriona Callaghan pivoted her cake decorating business ‘The Bunnery’ when the pandemic hit and says the support of the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) in Meath means her completely online cookery school has a bright future post-Covid.
She said: “Prior to the pandemic I was a home based cake decorator. I made wedding cakes and birthday cakes but when Covid hit nobody wanted cakes any more because there were no occasions anymore.”
Catriona, who is based in Kells, responded by “pivoting” her business. “I started to do tutorials on social media and that led to more and more enquiries from people who wanted full cooking classes.”
She quickly found that her social media presence grew quickly and, “my followers on social media went from around 900 up to about 60,000-70,000 within a few weeks.”
The pandemic also introduced her to Zoom. “As a result of family Zoom quizzes, I found ‘Zoom’ and started teaching kids live Zoom cookery classes.
“What is unique about the Bunnery is that our classes are all interactive. They are live classes but I allow everyone to ask questions.”
Being online allows her to connect and cook with family and friends living in different countries. She has one family group with members in Australia, London, Belgium and Cork.
Catriona says that without the LEO in Meath, The Bunnery would not be around.
“Very quickly I realised I needed a website because The Bunnery online had become a viable business.”
“I needed help and I didn’t know who to turn to so I rang the LEO and they gave me advice straight away. I applied for the trading online voucher and without it I would not have my website because I did not have the funds for it myself.
“I also got free mentorship in business and marketing and I have done a range of one-off different courses which have been great for me.”
Grainne McKeown is food development officer for the Boyne Valley region working under the brand Boyne Valley Flavours; Catriona is a member of Boyne Valley Flavours.
Grainne said, “the goal of Discover Boyne Valley Flavours is to promote and support local food and drink producers and food businesses who, like the Bunnery, champion and highlight the importance of local produce. Catriona does this so well in her online cookery classes where she used local produce the whole time.”
Lorna Cooney, Senior Enterprise Development Officer, LEO Meath said during lockdown, “we were inundated with applications for the Trading Online Voucher and for business mentoring.
“Catriona availed of both and we were delighted to support her. Catriona was at an early stage in development of her business but she needed to develop an online presence to reduce the administration burden on herself as she was a one person operation at that stage.
“The LEO offers a range of business supports regardless of what stage in business you are at.
“It provides business and guidance if you are at the early stage or at a more advanced stage.
“We provide management development training as well as mentoring and financial supports for eligible businesses. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need our help,” Lorna added.