Thursday 22 November 2018

Blame Nancy Silverton...

Next Friday, 30th November, the Sugar Moon kitchen & website will close for good - or at least for the time being!

It's something I've thought very hard about and planned over the last few wasn't a decision I've taken lightly and it's been very emotional telling my incredibly loyal customers - many of whom have ordered 5, 10, 20 or more times!

Whether you've bought multiple or just one box over the almost 5 years of Sugar Moon, you've contributed to the success of my small business and for that I'm so grateful. It's grown and grown and is now the busiest it's ever been.

So - why am I closing?! Well, that success is the main reason. Not everybody knows, but Sugar Moon is me alone. I literally do everything from the shopping to the baking to the wrapping and packing, handwriting the gift messages on the postcards (and taking the photos for the postcards and tags too) before finally seeing the boxes off at the post office. Not to mention the admin associated. I wanted it this way, and it's been brilliant - but it's all snowballed! I am extremely fussy about attention to detail and customer service (as I hope you've noticed!) and I would hate to ever have to compromise on any of that.

Why not hire someone...or help? Well, here's where Nancy Silverton comes in. It was while watching her episode of the Netflix series 'Chef's Table' (third volume, if you're interested!) that I realised I felt about Sugar Moon the way she did about her La Brea bakery. She got so busy that she had to start making the bread - previously totally handmade - by machine. And when she saw the machines kneading and stirring, she knew it wasn't her business any more. I love every aspect of the Sugar Moon brownie process, and would hate to give any of it up! Plus, like many small business owners, I'm a control freak and I know (having employed people in a different past business) that no one would care the way I do about it...because it's like a baby to me!

I also decided not to sell, for a quite similar reason. The brand identity and whole ethos behind Sugar Moon are so's very special to me and I would hate to give it over to someone else and see them change anything about it (as they undoubtably would...and have every right to!)

There are other reasons. I'm currently in training to be a psychotherapist...this is hard work and will take up more and more time. And also the platform that hosts the website is shutting down soon, which would mean a complete (and expensive) rebuild. It just seemed to be the right time.

I'm stopping now, rather than at the end of the year, because Christmas is - as you can imagine -  a very challenging time!! I only just managed it last year, and this one would be busier. I would hate to ever let anyone down or compromise on standards - so...

I am keeping the kitchen on, and also the wholesale side of the business (which is more easy to predict and flexible) If you're ever in the Aylesbury area, then you will find my brownies at several places - including The Works (in High Wycombe too!)

So - THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!! For making Sugar Moon the joy it's been. For letting me be a small part of so many joyous (and sometimes sad) occasions in your lives and those of your friends and family. I have made so many friends through the years.

If I decide to come back - and the brand (and recipes!) are mine, so I can do that - I'll be sure and let you know.

I wish you love, luck and everything good xx

Wednesday 4 July 2018

A different rhythm ...

Oooh, it's hot! We've had high temperatures (for us!) for a good ten days now, and no end in sight. It's beautiful to be out in...

 no jacket required, just a pair of sunglasses in the pocket, a bottle of water and you're good to go. It's wonderful for all the festivals, outdoor concerts, fairs and fetes that proliferate in summer but...
 It's not so great when you're in a kitchen unit with the oven on and the sun beating through the transparent roof panels!! The chocolate holds up better than I's well insulated with opaque lids which keep the sun off...
 I do have a fan, but it's in the packing area and really just pushes warm air around. And I have to wear protective clothing to bake in - a full coverage apron and anti-slip clogs. Not ideal!
Something has to give! So...I've changed my workday routine for the duration of the hot spell. I get up early anyway so an extra hour makes no difference - and I get to the kitchen by 6.30am. It's a beautiful time of day...still and clear and full of birdsong. Coffee, Radio 4 and oven on ...and it's all systems go! I try and bake everything so that I can switch the oven off by 11am. Then cooling and packing. And the ideal (which I've managed so far) is to leave by 2pm, just when it's really heating up! Post office run on the way home and then I get the afternoon to do admin and hopefully spend time in the garden too!

There's no point worrying about things I can't change, like the weather - I just have to adapt. And it's actually a lovely way to work while it's so beautiful outside!

Enjoy your summer xx

Monday 22 January 2018

Behind the brownies....

 I don't normally write personal posts on this blog - I'm not sure anyone wants to read them! You can see a bit 'behind the scenes' on the Sugar Moon Instagram account most days...but I thought I'd write a little bit more personally in this one post for those that ARE interested!
 This is the little 'inspiration display' above my brownie packing table in the kitchen. The slogan postcards are from the Imperial War Museum  - reproductions of actual public information and propaganda messages during WW2. Still words to live by today (although I find that Mondays are the perfect time to take an alcoholic drink myself!!)  There are other cards from small, independent business like Sugar Moon Brownies too...I try and buy from them as much as possible and there are some great ones out there! Oubas Knitwear and Bramley (handmade natural cleansing products) are two in the picture and both recommended!
 I'm a little bit melancholy at the moment...the past couple of months have been difficult on a personal level. The home I was lucky enough to grow up in was sold just before Christmas - it was the right thing to do but after almost 40 years in the family, it was a wrench for us all...

And then, just over a week ago, my darling sister and her three children went back to their home in Australia after living a few doors from me for over a year. The best thing about them going is the peace and quiet. The worst thing is...the peace and quiet! They all brought such joy and fun to our lives and the last few weeks trying to cram in the things we hadn't done (going up The Shard and on the London Eye...the all important trip to the Harry Potter Studios....) as well as packing up a years worth of...LIFE...was incredibly draining. Little things are the hardest. Taking redundant school uniforms to the school office to be re-used...looking up at the clock at 'school run time' (we had the routine down to a fine art!!), our Friday night curry ritual and not buying The Beano every Wednesday...but it will get better.
These three and their Mum have left a big hole behind! So I'm taking a few days off to visit somewhere that always makes me feel better. The house/dog sitter is arranged (thank you Aunty Mary!) and Salzburg and - most importantly - Mozart beckon. 

The kitchen is closed until 30th January - details on our Facebook page and, of course, our homepage. I will return...refreshed, revitalised and excited by all that 2018 has to offer!!

Thank you for reading and - as always - for choosing Sugar Moon Brownies . xx