Council grants help to propel The Whoopie Bakery

Social media presence, particularly on Instagram, can provide a huge platform for a local business in the current digital age.

High quality, appealing imagery can be the difference between gaining new followers and, as a result, new customers.

There are few better examples than that of Katie Cunnah, director of Hull bakery, The Whoopie Bakery.

A keen photographer, Katie would regularly post on Instagram images of their Whoopies Pies, sponge-like treats filled with handmade marshmallow or cheesecake filling with a little something special in the centre.

Each mouth-watering Whoopie is also carefully hand decorated on top.

Not satisfied with the outcome of her images, through Whoopie, Katie applied for and was granted £700 worth of Upskilling Support Funding through the Employment Hub at Hull City Council which she match-funded to allow her to enrol in a food photography course.

The results were seismic and the difference in the quality of content on social media is clear.

Katie said: “I have always enjoyed photography, but when I was uploading images of our Whoopies, I wasn’t overly happy with what was produced, so I applied for the Upskilling Support Funding in a bid to do something about it.

“It allowed me to enrol in a food photography course, which on a personal note, was a dream come true for me as I got to work with Kimberley Espinel at The Little Plantation.

“It was a quick and easy process to get onto the course which consisted of two full-day one-to-one sessions in London.

“Alongside Kimberley’s expert guidance on working with light, props, composition, story-telling and editing, I also discovered through Kimberley that there was an issue with my camera.

“I then had this repaired under warranty and that, coupled with Kimberley’s support, saw an instant improvement in quality in my photos.

“I never thought I could improve so quickly and so I updated our website and also posted new content on Instagram, which really took off.

“I think we got over 500 followers in the first week and our followers are continuing to increase, which in turn helps to bring in more customers.”

So much has Whoopie’s success been that Katie was approached to collaborate with a national clothing brand which has over 300,000 email subscribers and The Whoopie Bakery was also invited to partner with Not On The High Street.

The business has also featured in media outlets such as the I newspaper.

The Whoopie Bakery has also secured a Business Growth Grant through the council’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund, again match-funded, to purchase a depositer machine that will improve manufacturing processes and increase productivity.

Katie, whose husband Matt is the owner of Hull Pie, added: “We are delighted to have received another grant for our depositer.

“Previously, Matt was piping every sponge by hand and this will ease pressure and workload on him, as well as helping to manage large orders and achieve greater consistency.

“None of this would have been possible without the grants and support from Hull City Council and I urge any local business in Hull to seek such support.

“It can really make a difference to your business and we at Whoopie cannot thank the grants team enough.”

Whoopies are a popular sweet treat on the northeastern coast of America and you can find out more about The Whoopie Bakery here.

The Whoopie Bakery can also regularly be found at local markets in Beverley and Cottingham.

Cllr Paul Drake-Davis, the council’s portfolio holder for regeneration, said: “The Upskilling Support Funding and UK Shared Prosperity Fund are put in place to support Hull business to grow and reach the next level.

“We have seen first-hand the difference it has made at Whoopie which is one of several success stories on the back of council funding.

“It is always pleasing to see small, independent businesses flourish, especially when they are providing such a delicious treat too!”

More information on business support funding can be found here.