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#Determination&Disability: Alicia - Crumb's The Word
Girl Tribe Gang’s #Determination&Disability series helps to raise awareness of women with disabilities who work for themselves.
In this blog, GTG’s Disability Champion Kirsty Meredith chats with Alicia from Reading, founder of Crumb’s The Word, about all things Girl Tribe Gang and what’s it’s really like to run a business with a disability. She had the pleasure of photographing Alicia, bringing out her bright and vibrant personality, and sampling Alicia’s famous lemon drizzle cake!
I am a self-taught baker who started baking aged 6, following a cookbook someone had given me as a gift. I would bake so much the pages became obscured with cake mix until I knew the recipes off by heart.
As I grew up I didn’t think baking could be a career so I studied Fashion and Theatrical dress before working for a large IT company in Events Management.
After my college course in dressmaking I fell ill and was bedridden for several months. It wouldn’t be until my 40s that doctors would discover I had been infected with a horrifically strong strain of glandular fever. Not resting at the time had caused M.E. Since that time I have been diagnosed with multiple disabilities and my husband has had to give up work to become my full time carer.
KM: Hello Alicia, thank you for getting in contact and agreeing to feature on a blog post. Firstly, could you tell us a bit more about your disabilities and how you cope with them on a daily basis?
I am so excited to be featured in your blog, Kirsty, thanks for asking me!
I have quite a few disabilities but luckily I’m a glass half full type of person and think of what they can help me with rather than the things they hinder.
I have Autism, ADHD, M. E., Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Asthma, Gastro Oesophageal Reflux Disease and Heart Failure, which all make me very tired. The ADHD in me helps to keep me going with enthusiasm.
My husband is great at weighing out all the products for me so I don’t have to stand for very long. Plus he does all the washing up, so that’s another bonus I get from being disabled!
KM: Who do you rely on for support with your disability and in your business?
My husband 100%. I couldn’t have started the business without him.
If I need new equipment he’s on hand to get what I need or if it’s been used, wash it and get it back to me for the next order.
I’m great at creating and making, but he’s the best at putting words together on an advert or a social media post. I get him to do the press releases and stuff like that since my brain just sits there panicking at the blank page!
KM: Tell us about your cake business “Crumb’s the Word” and how it developed.
A professional baker friend of mine knew how much I loved to bake and added me to a brilliant group of other pro and hobby bakers on Facebook. I was extremely lucky to win loads of new equipment. When it arrived I looked at it all and thought “I best learn how to use these!” and started experimenting.
In order to see my development as a baker I set up a Facebook group called Crumb’s the Word, to show off the cakes I had made for various people.
My hope was that the Crumb’s the Word page would become a proper business, but over the last 7 years I have had illness after illness diagnosed that kept squashing plans for making a bigger go of it all.
Last year I realised that there is probably never a good time to do anything so I should just do it now!
Since then I have turned my passion into an online cake business and send my bakes through the post to customers all over the UK. I’m so grateful Simon was happy to be involved and here we are!
KM: What is your favourite cake you have made and why?
My favourite cake is my lemon drizzle cake. After we moved house my baking things were still packed in boxes, so I decided to do what my grandmother would have done and just wing it.
I mixed everything together, popped it in to the only tin I had to hand and hoped for the best. When it came out it was, without a doubt, the best cake I had ever tasted in my life, and I’ve tasted a lot!
I vowed I would recreate it with proper measurements so I could save the recipe. It took me 6 years of fine tuning various ingredients until one day I got it. Now it is one of our most popular cakes in the shop!
I won’t divulge my secret recipe. I’ll pass it on to my children one day and Simon is sworn to secrecy because he has to weigh it all out for me. He knows the penalty is harsh for spilling the beans!
KM: What has been your highlight since joining Girl Tribe Gang?
My highlight has been meeting you, Kirsty, and getting help with my PR from other Girl Tribe Gang members.
It’s been great to meet you because I felt there are not a lot of disabled people who are giving businesses a go. It’s nice to know I’m not alone and I’m thrilled about your blog bringing awareness about us in such a fantastically positive way.
It’s good for disabled people to support each other too. We can get imposter syndrome and there are days we feel it’s all too hard to cope with, but knowing that we are all just the same human beings trying to make it really helps to keep me going.
KM: What advice would you give to anyone who has a disability and is thinking of starting a business?
Make sure you get good support: family, friends, maybe a disability adviser at the job centre or from a support group on social media or via your GP. On those tough days it is good to have that help.
Remember that it’s ok to say “I need a break. I’ll get that rest and then get back on track and I’ll plan better for next time”. Don’t forget to look after yourself. You need to respect your disability and yourself and know you are enough as you are.
Days when you feel overwhelmed are not reserved for the disabled – everyone has them.
Failure isn’t having an off day; it’s not getting back up and carrying on. I might need lots of sleep, rest days and medication, but I’m still in the game with my eye on making this business a success to inspire my children.
If someone says “You can’t do that!” and you think you can, then just do it! I want my children to feel that nothing is impossible. When the world tries to keep you down, just poke it in the eye and do it anyway!