Introducing Anna Shead, Founder of Flower and Sugar Cakes and Beyond Service Awards 'Power of One' Finalist
When Anna Shead found herself standing unsure and scared at a crossroads as the Covid pandemic began, she followed her passion and found new purpose.
Anna had worked in communications and marketing for most of her career and served seven years as a Public Affairs Officer in the Royal Australian Navy.
But three years ago she completely changed course and started Flower & Sugar Cakes.
Anna said at the start 2020 she was looking for work after a redundancy and preparing for her Navy officer husband, Brett, to post to Western Australia while she remained in Adelaide with their son Hugo, who has level two autism.
Then the pandemic hit.
Job opportunities dried up and borders closed.
Anna was looking down the barrel of months of isolation and no sense of purpose outside of looking after Hugo.
“I was getting scared,” she said.
“I have had depression in the past…and having a child with special needs is tough. I'd always found when Brett was away, work was something for myself, so I could then come back and be a really good mum and a really good support for my husband.”
“So, I thought, what am I going to do?”
Anna said she knew she needed something to bring joy to her life, so she turned to her almost-lifelong passion of cakemaking.
The 51-year-old said she first fell in love with cakemaking after seeing the Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book at the age of five.
Over the years she made cakes for friends and family, honing her skills, and began admiring the creations of professional cakemakers on social media.
“So, I thought, hang on a minute, I could probably do that,” she said.
Anna combined her marketing and communication skills with her passion, and Flower & Sugar Cakes was born.
She began with small luxury cakes made in her little kitchen and baked in her single oven.
When Hugo was still home schooling during the pandemic, she would get him settled and then set about testing recipes, building a website and working out how to run a micro business.
“I absolutely loved it,” she said.
“I found my confidence growing by having this thing for myself, but also seeing what I had in return was this beautiful looking cake.
“And then clients, being able to interact with them and put them at the heart of everything I did … it really fed my soul.
“It was also great for Hugo to see Mum having something and not just being upset or sad or lonely, because it was a lonely time.”
During the pandemic, Brett was only home for nine weeks out of two-and-a-half years.
Once restrictions lifted and major celebrations were back on the cards for Adelaideans, a cake boom hit.
And Anna was ready for it.
“It's really taken off and now I'm doing a lot bigger cakes,” she said.
“I’m probably booked out to the end of February at the moment but I can still only do one major thing at a time.”
“I can't scale because I’m in a little house with one oven. But it still brings me pleasure every day.”
“It’s a type of therapy, I suppose. A creative therapy.”
Anna said she’d love to have her own shopfront someday and teach others.
“It would be wonderful to have people come and learn a new skill, but also meet some new friends and just have a coffee and a chat,” she said.
“I'd also like to be able to do an online course but purely for defence or veterans, really tailor it for them.”
For now, Anna is thrilled her Covid era sanity-saver has grown into a business that creates joy for herself and others.
And she’s pretty chuffed to be a finalist in the Power of One category of the Prince’s Trust Australia Beyond Service Awards.
“I spent a long time in this kitchen, making these things and having to pivot, be agile and take a risk,” she said.
“Being a finalist shows that what I'm doing is maybe the right thing, I am on the right track.”
Anna said she was a big admirer of the Beyond Service Awards.
“These awards shine a light on the skills that veterans or partners have in adapting and using their unique circumstances and experience to pivot, change course and be successful in their next role,” she said.
This story was written by Courtney Snowden, freelance copywriter and current serving ADF spouse, based in Queensland.
An initiative of the Prince’s Trust Australia Enterprise programme, the Beyond Service Awards are designed to celebrate the entrepreneurial achievements of Australia’s veteran and family business community.
The 2023 Beyond Service Awards are proudly sponsored by Gold Sponsor Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and Silver Sponsor Saab Australia.
For further information, contact Prince’s Trust Australia via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anna is a finalist for the 2023 Beyond Service Awards – Power of One Award.
Anna is the Owner and Creative Director of Flower & Sugar Cakes in Adelaide, South Australia. With a background in marketing and public relations, Anna is passionate about making a piece of art that tastes as good as it looks.
Anna started her business in August 2020 after her husband was posted to Western Australia (unaccompanied). Anna was recently featured in the nomination list for The Advertiser’s “Who is Adelaide’s best cake maker?” awards.
Anna is a veteran and Defence spouse, based in Adelaide, South Australia.