“I’ve always loved baking,” says Madsen, who left school at 16 to train as a pastry chef at the famous Ecole Lenotre in Paris, before moving to London to work in food management.
“There were days when I would be slaving away until 11pm at night. I got to the point where I thought, ‘Why am I doing this when I could be working for myself?’”
So she quit her job and moved to Buenos Aires for four months to study Spanish and “tango dance all night long”. When she returned to London in 2000, she was ready to take the entrepreneurial leap and set up Honeyrose Bakery, selling hand baked organic cakes, cookies and muffins to coffee chains, blue-chip companies and at events such as the Chelsea Flower Show.
A year later, she decided to send a sample of her chocolate fudge cake to a buyer at Waitrose. It was love at first taste.
She started supplying two local stores. She then completed a successful trial in four more central London branches and has just signed a deal to provide all 107 Waitrose stores across the country with her baked treats.
Not bad for a company that started out with one cake mixer and one oven.
Madsen expects the firm’s turnover of just under £2m to double over the next 18 months and has invested £600,000 in a freehold factory that will allow her to boost the number of employees from 35 to 150.
She’s also roped her husband in. He left his job at AOL to become Honeyrose Bakery’s marketing director.
“He’s pretty brave working for his wife,” she admits. “Sometimes I have to put my foot down and remind him exactly who’s boss!”
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