Cupcake queen of the coast
Michelle Hall is a big believer in taking the plunge and following your passions.
“You have to start somewhere” is a mantra that served the mum-of-two well during the pandemic when the corporate travel industry was crumbling around her and she was navigating the uncharted territory of home schooling.
An entrepreneurial spirit at heart, Canadian-born Michelle turned to her love of baking and decided there was no time like the present to set up her own business.
She Googled “home business start-up” and, without any real plan, simply took the first step which was to post on a Surf Coast Facebook page.
And just like that, Sweet Coast Cupcakes was in business.
“I started during the beginning of the lockdowns in the area,” says Michelle, who had moved to Torquay from Melbourne with her husband months before the pandemic began.
“I posted my first lot of mixed cupcakes on the Surfcoast takeaway & delivery options Facebook group, and they were snapped up within minutes.
“The business snowballed and evolved from that point on.”
Michelle and her family have since moved to Grovedale to a larger home with a kitchen that can accommodate her growing business, with beach-loving sons Dallas, 11, and Jasper, 8, still attending school in Torquay.
Sweet Coast Cupcakes now caters to all occasions including weddings, birthdays, baby showers, graduations, house warmings and all the holidays, with Christmas cupcakes being especially sought-after.
“I have had people send cupcakes to those who have lost loved ones and for no occasion at all, just ‘thinking of you’ cupcakes,” she says.
There are 17 flavours on the menu and the most popular sweet creations are cinnamon doughnut, lemon meringue, white chocolate raspberry, chocolate freckle, salted caramel and mint chocolate.
“However, I would like to see more experimental flavours on a rotation soon,” she says.
“I’ve got a tonne of ideas that need to be put into a cupcake.
“I think cake or cupcake decorating is amazing, but the focus is flavour with Sweet Coast.
“Once the flavour is just right, I like to decorate to showcase the ingredients so when you look at the cupcake, you will already have an idea of what you’re getting into.”
Some of the cupcakes in her repertoire are inspired by her Canadian upbringing including peanut butter cup and s’mores.
“Canada is also known for a popular treat called beaver tails, which is basically a slab of deep-fried dough covered in cinnamon sugar and sometimes you have them topped with caramel or chocolate.
“This was the idea behind the cinnamon doughnut cupcake. It’s a vanilla and cinnamon swirl cake filled with homemade caramel, topped with cream cheese frosting and a fresh hand-made cinnamon doughnut.”
Her ‘weekly mix’ is also proving popular.
“As I bake fresh and in small batches and don’t keep stock, the weekly mix was a way to be able to offer a great variety with minimal wastage.
“It consists of six different flavours, and I make sure there is always a little something for everyone’s taste.
“The mix for the week is released on Sunday mornings via our socials and via email mailing list.”
Michelle places great importance on using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible.
“It’s a wonderful feeling getting to know the people behind some of our local produce.They are not just ‘suppliers’ they are people with their own history and passions and story.”
One such valued supplier is Chooks at the Rooke near Colac which supplies Michelle with delicious fresh eggs – and that’s quite an order considering she uses 60 to 80 eggs in an average week and up to 160 during a busy week.
Using recyclable packaging is also important to Michelle who says every small business has a part to play in protecting the environment for future generations.
Michelle spends about 30 hours a week baking and packaging cupcakes.
“But another massive part of my business is deliveries,” she explains.
“It’s a whole other business in itself. I spend a few hours each day organising routings and special orders and gift orders plus all the delivering as well.
“The current delivery zone is Torquay and surroundings plus most of Geelong area. I’m hoping to open up to the Bellarine down the track as well.
“I have big goals to get some help in the kitchen soon but for now it is all me.”
Reflecting on how far Sweet Coast Cupcakes has come in a short time, Michelle is pleased she took a leap of faith and whipped up her at-home business venture.
“I have discovered so much about myself and most importantly learned that you have to start somewhere.
“The beginning is never going to be perfect, and the timing is never going to be just right.
“No need to wait for the next global disaster, if you are dreaming of doing something, just start.”
To order from Sweet Coast Cupcakes go to the website or directly through their booking platform powered by Cookaborough. You can also follow the journey on Instagram @sweet.coast.cupcakes