Conquering the UK one doughnut at a time
Bionic spoke to Wade Smith, CEO of quirky sweet treat chain 'Doughnotts'. We found out how they started up, what their plans are for the next year and how they have fun bringing their handcrafted creations to life every day.
“We started in 2015, it was just me and my business partner Megan Scadden, we were basically flat broke.” recalls Wade when Bionic asks him how he conjured up the idea for the handmade doughnut business.
“I was an apprentice, and we were just kind of chasing our tails, as you do when you’re 20/21 years old.” He continues.
So, what inspired him and Megan to start up their own company? Wade says it was a happy accident and they weren't expecting to have this level of success.
“I borrowed £10 from my grandparents, then me and Megan made some doughnuts one day” he laughs “They were dead simple ones, when I look back they’re shocking compared to what we produce now. I think they were just plain glazed and cornflake ones."
Wade and Megan had no idea their doughnuts would earn them a swarm of interest at local events, and they would go on to become a micro-bakery, proudly supplying doughnuts and coffee to sweet-loving Nottingham locals. They would then go on to expand, setting up flagship stores in Leicester, Lincoln, and Beeston.
Doughnotts now offer expert catering services too, sculpting specialist cakes for events. You can even order doughnut walls for parties and extra special occasions.
“When we made our first doughnuts back in 2015, we didn’t expect them to be a hit, but they were.” Wade tells us “We appeared at food markets and events, and it all went from there really. We got our shop in Nottingham, then expanded to Leicester, Lincoln, and Beeston after that.”
What started as a boredom cure, a chance to make a few pounds one afternoon, turned into an award-winning business. Wade cites his team as a key factor in this development.
“A lot of the staff have won awards,” he tells us “Megan won the best businesswoman of the year a couple of years ago. But we’ve always just enjoyed doing our own thing.” says Wade.
Doughnotts moves forward
So, what has been the biggest obstacle for Doughnotts to overcome? Wade says Covid was tough, but they learnt to adapt and offer deliveries and alternative ways to stay relevant.
They’ve struggled with the usual troubles when trying to develop a business, like gaining more custom and working out their marketing angle, but the Doughnotts team have been steadily expanding over the years and enjoying their sweet success.
“Covid was the biggest hurdle for us,” says Wade “we had to start doing home deliveries, then other challenges we’ve had have been just generally increasing production while we’re expanding and managing customers. Things like that.”
Bionic asked Wade what the best thing about owning Doughtnotts is, he said the people he meets everyday make running his business worthwhile.
“The best thing about running this business is definitely the people. Both the customers and our team. We have about 70 people working for us now across all our stores, so it’s really grown over the years. We try to create a really nice work environment for people.” says Wade.
Treats to appeal to your tastes
When you flick through Doughnott’s mouthwatering Instagram account, you’re met with reels of snaps. Multicoloured doughnuts with toppings to suit every taste preference.
There are specialised Mother's Day doughnuts; heart-shaped with bright yellow icing. There were Valentine’s Day additions, red with delicate white flowers piped around the sides. There are even anti-war doughnuts decorated in blue and yellow. There are treats topped with Galaxy chocolate pieces, Oreos, Party Rings, and even Jaffa Cakes.
There are offerings drizzled with caramel, caked in chocolate, dolloped with strawberry jam and everything in between. These doughnuts are truly a work of art.
It’s clear Doughnotts isn't just a treat shop, it’s something special, it’s creativity at its best. Each doughnut is expertly crafted to maximise taste and quality while looking great too. But what else does Wade think is unique about his business?
“The flavours we create are the unique part and the fact that we have an extensive selection of vegan options” says Wade.
“At the moment, our most popular doughnut is red velvet, but we change our flavours every week. We have 16 different doughnut flavours on offer each week and 8 of those will be vegan friendly.” he continues.
Do take Doughnott’s advice
As we mentioned earlier, Doughnotts is no stranger to snapping amazing pictures of their stock for Instagram, they’re masters of showing their creations off on social media. Bionic asked if social media marketing is the avenue Wade chose to publicise his SME.
“Social media is our main way of marketing” he agrees “but we also do lots of events. Just getting our brand name out there is important.”
And finally, what is Wade’s sprinkling of stellar advice for other SME owners just setting up?
“The best advice I could give is just to keep going!” He says, “It's going to be difficult sometimes, you’ll have good days and bad days but it's all worth it.”
He added “I think it's just important to support the high-street in general, there are so many smaller shops popping up and it's good to help them out. Shopping small is a lot more personal and you often get better quality too.”
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