Back in July 2020, we spoke with Mina Kashmir, three months into setting up her food business in the midst of a global pandemic. Almost a year later we caught up again to see how she is getting on.
We talked about the challenges, achievements and what’s next in the world of Cinnabon (delicious sweet coiled bread, flavoured with cinnamon, then filled and decorated with various ingredients).
What’s happened since we last met?
Where to start? In just under a year the business has boomed. Mina tells me that Cinnammmm has over ten well known indie cafes in Leeds and West Yorkshire that regularly sell their produce. These include House of Koko, Sebby’s, Sweet Baby Cheesuz and Grays of Rothwell. Their website has been revamped and on-line orders are tenfold now that deliveries are available UK wide via Arrowfresh. Loyal customers have been vital in supporting the business during the slower times. In addition to this, in May 2021, Mina attended her first food festival at Leeds Left Bank and sold out of products before the end of the day!
I asked Mina what have the challenges been setting up a business during a pandemic “The biggest challenge has been to build up a social media presence, customer base and networking from scratch. I had no previous experience of doing so, so it’s all been trial and error.” She seems to have done pretty well of it, though, with over five thousand Instagram followers and having less and less sleep every night to keep up with order demands.
Some of these challenges are actually also some of the things that she has enjoyed the most, as she continues “I’ve really enjoyed building up networks with other independent food businesses across Leeds, including suppliers and stockists. Meeting new customers, who without we would not be here, has also been a highlight for me.”
When asked what are the key qualities of running your own business, Mina without hesitancy said “Persistence, consistency of products and being able to function with four hours of sleep a night!. Whilst the support of family and friends has been essential to surviving.”
Mina sees potential new challenges now things are opening back up again. Will on-line sales decline now that people are getting out more and not ordering treats to enjoy at home? But on the other end, supplies in cafes may see an increase with now more demand outside of the home. Loyalty cards are available for regular customers to try and keep them coming back for more once the world changes post-pandemic.
In terms of products, there has been a number of changes. As well as the standard classic flavours that have been around from the start – Nutella, Cinnamon, Biscoff and Caramel, and savoury flavours are now on offer for those customers with not such a sweet tooth. Special occasions bespoke cakes can be made to order for birthdays or weddings. Monthly flavour changes have included black forest gateaux, Oreo cookies and cream and mint.
The classic box of 4 is still £12, and you can also now buy bitesize boxes and towers (great for sharing and parties), and custom-made giant 9 inch Cinnabon (perfect for a birthday cake). See their website below for full details and costs.
So, what’s next for Cinnammmm?
After the first food event in May 2021, Cinnammmm has attended more food festivals across Yorkshire, including Harrogate and Ilkley. Future events include:
7th & 8th August at Roundhay Park Food Festival
28th – 30th August Harrogate Food festival at Ripley Castle
11th & 12th September at Roundhay Park Food Festival
Mina’s dream is to one day have her own premises, whether this be a café or a professional kitchen, to be able to handle the increasing Cinnabon orders. We will have to have a chat in another year’s time to see how these plans have developed (although with her being my neighbour I will of course be chatting to her ‘off the record’ before then, and sampling any new Cinnabon flavours that come our way!)
Checkout Cinnammmm’s website for full details of all products, events and to place your orders https://cinnammmm.co.uk. Alternatively, you can do so via their social media channels www.facebook.com/cinnammmm or www.instagram.com/cinnammmm.
*Photo credits: Mina Kashmir