“I love the market for so many reasons: it is everything online shopping is not. I showcase my products. I test the waters. I meet my customers. I love presenting my everchanging range, and I'm always overwhelmed by the response.”
Helen's professional background lies in textile design, which took her to Como, Italy, and then New York. In the UK, she carved out a high-end career in colour and trend forecasting, working with major brands around the world. But in 2014, she and her husband Paul moved to the thriving Somerset community of Frome, and she soon began a new career, partly thanks to the award-winning monthly street-market, The Frome Independent, that now draws around 80,000 people a year to one of the most talked-about towns in Britain. Her business is called The Bakemonger, it has its roots in her love of baking at home and it reflects her mission ‘to make edibles accepted as a valid art form’, by creating cakes that are not just a literal feast, but also a visual one.
‘“Baking has very naturally become my creative medium,” she says. “I love experimenting with new techniques. I design first, often sketching for clients. Then all the various decorative components are made bespoke, before baking commences. I love that moment when everything is ready, and it's time for the design to come to life. Suddenly, the magic really happens.”
The Frome Independent began life in 2009, as a small array of artisan stalls in the town's cobbled Catherine Hill. As the market has grown to fill the entire town centre, a community of creative people has cohered around it. Specialities run from cheese and cider, through to shoe making and iron-work, to unique art.
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