This week we caught up with Harriet Hastings, the co-founder of Biscuiteers.
1. SO HARRIET, BISCUITEERS HAS BECOME QUITE A POPULAR VENTURE! WHERE DID THE IDEA TO START THIS BISCUIT BUSINESS COME FROM?
It was ten years ago and I had just left a full time job as director of consumer brands at a PR agency and was keen to start my own business. I thought there was a great opportunity in food gifting – my husband runs a catering and events company Lettice, so food was an obvious direction for us. We saw some iced biscuits on a trip to New York and recognised an opportunity to set up an online gift business that was completely different from anything else in the UK market. We started testing designs and recipes in early 2007, in Stevie’s catering kitchens while we were launching the business. We moved into our first bakery two months later.
In September we celebrated our 10th birthday. We marked the milestone with the very first Biscuit exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion. Our incredibly talented icers created 10 3D biscuit structures dedicated to some of the brand partners we’ve worked with over the past decade including The Savoy, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Selfridges, Charlotte Olympia and Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity with Claudia Winkleman.
2. IT SOUNDS LIKE QUITE THE BIG OPERATION, TALK US THROUGH THE CREATION PROCESS?
We have a team of very skilled biscuit designers who create the new collections by translating our ideas into colour palettes and initial designs. Inspiration come from a variety of places, fashion, art and interior design… Christmas is of course the biggest moment in the Biscuiteers calendar and we started designing this year’s collections back in February.
Every year we identify new themes and this season you will find lots of metallics in the collection as well as some of the Biscuiteers iconic designs like the Nutcracker and Iced Christmas. It’s all hands to the icing bags as we prepare stock for the icing cafés, our online customers and corporate clients for whom we often create amazing bespoke designs. As you can imagine, it’s a very busy kitchen and at our busiest last year we shipped 1,700 orders in one day.
3. BISCUITS ARE DEFINITELY SOMETHING THAT APPEAL TO MOST PEOPLE, TELL US WHY YOUR BISCUITS ARE UNIQUE?
Biscuiteers was the first company in the UK to offer luxurious collections of hand-iced biscuits to send as gifts. Every single one of our biscuits are handmade and part of the excitement has been building a business based on old fashioned non-industrialised techniques. Many of our icers are artists and enjoy creating new designs and perfecting existing ones as much as we do. One of the real joys of iced biscuits is their incredible flexibility. Our experienced icers do some intricate work copying logos, fashion designs and all sorts of products for our corporate customers.
We have had some exciting commissions, including a collaboration with The National Portrait Gallery for the Vogue 100: A Century of Style exhibition. We have recently designed a limited-edition collection for The Savoy, the bespoke tin illustrations are some of my favourite ever. We have created bespoke designs for outstanding brands such as Net-a-Porter, Heathrow, Cartier and Charlotte Tilbury among many others.
4. YOU ALSO HAVE TWO BEAUTIFUL SHOPS WHICH HOST REGULAR EVENTS. WHAT CAN WE EXPECT TO SEE WHEN POPPING INTO STORE?
In October 2012 we opened the doors to our very first icing café in Notting Hill, followed by our Northcote Road icing café in December 2014. Showcasing our much-loved biscuits, the icing cafés are also home to our popular ‘School of Icing where you can be taught by expert icers to ice like a Biscuiteer. Icing fans can also drop in at any time to ice their own biscuits over a cup of tea, much like a pottery café. We also do afternoon tea which is perfect as a gift for someone or a nice treat for yourself.
5. WHEN YOU’RE NOT EATING YOUR LOVELY BAKED GOODS, WHERE IS YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE TO EAT IN LONDON?
I love Italian food and we have wonderful local restaurant called Pentolina in shepherds bush. The Abingdon in Kensington is great for Sunday lunch too.
6. WHAT WOULD YOUR PERFECT LAZY SUNDAY IN LONDON LOOK LIKE?
Sunday morning is my favourite time to go to an exhibition followed by lunch in a pub or one of my husband’s great Sunday roasts. I love a dog walk in Chiswick house gardens too.
Biscuiteers – www.biscuiteers.com