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Founder Award for Pastry Chefs: “Not Just Baked Cakes”

Kelly Alpers and Mona Warnecke want to encourage pastry chefs to become self-employed. The Bremen Belladonna association honored her for this.

Recipients of the Female Founders’ Award in Bremen: Mona Warnecke (left) and Kelly Alpers Photo: Pia Schirrmeister

BREMEN cup | On display are cake pops decorated with grains of sugar, next to cakes and macarons in pastel shades. “We want to differentiate ourselves from other pastry chefs with our offering,” says Kelly Alpers. Together with Mona Warnecke, you founded “Vanilla Instinct”, a pastry shop with branches in Worpswede and Bremen. On Thursday, the two received the Women’s Startup Award from the Bremen Belladonna Association for the Promotion of Women for their work.

Every two years, the association awards young female entrepreneurs from Bremen for making women’s start-ups visible and promoting them. “They didn’t give up during the corona crisis, they just took off,” says Maren Bock, managing director of Belladonna. The two pastry chefs could be role models for young women.

Warnecke and Alpers met during their training. “I loved cooking at home which is why I applied for an apprenticeship as a pastry chef,” Warnecke says. The 28-year-old completed her training in 2016 and then completed her master’s degree. Alpers, 29, was above her on the year. “At first it was more of a playful idea to work together,” says Alpers.

After passing the master craftsman exam, the two ran a stand in the Bremen market hall two days a week. As things went well, they decided in 2018 to open a ‘Cake Studio’ in Worpswede. In December 2019 the branch was opened in the center of Bremen, then Corona came.

“Self-employment has been very difficult during the pandemic,” Warnecke says. “But we continued,” adds Alpers. They would deliver cakes in and around Bremen, sell them out of doors and develop gift packages with pastries. This allowed them to keep both branches.

Its main business is cakes for events. “An elaborate wedding cake can take up to five hours to decorate,” says Alpers. You like creative work. “We can always think of new things,” Warnecke says — that’s a benefit of being self-employed. We both like responsibility.

Hardly any women in management positions

“But it’s also clear that business always comes first,” Warnecke explains. The two always have a lot to do on weekends and holidays. It is an advantage that there are two people running the business: “then we can take turns from time to time”.

Since 2020, the two of them are part of “Vanilla instinct” out. “We want to be role models for the trainees,” says Alpers. In the past, almost only men would train as pastry chefs – that has now changed. “The pastry shops we are in contact with are still 90 percent run by men ”, Warnecke says. Female start-ups are still rare in this sector.

Warnecke and Alpers say their work and skills are often underestimated. “We don’t just make a small cake, we are a company,” Alpers points out and Warnecke adds: “Pastry is a physically demanding profession.” Both wanted to encourage women to enter the profession and become self-employed.

Both plan to expand their bakery in the future so they can offer classes here as well. They also want to organize more events – there was a “pumpkin party” recently.

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