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My Business: Steph Garbutt


Based in the Norwich Lanes, dessert-only bar Figbar is the result of a decision by Steph and her husband to move out of London

How did you come to start up? 

Figbar began when Jaime and I were living in a tiny London flat with our one-year-old daughter and found out I was pregnant again. We decided to move back to Norwich, the city where we met and fell in love, and open Figbar. 

Our business model and plan was based on the idea of ‘do what you know’ – and Jaime knows desserts. He began to specialise in pastry while working for Marcus Wareing and Gordon Ramsay (Pétrus), and his background includes time with Galton Blackiston, Ottolenghi, The Playboy Club and others, as well as being a founding partner of the Jinjuu Group (London and Hong Kong). 

How has the business grown since then?
Our big growth areas are wholesale trade, events (Cake by Figbar) and collaborations (Figbar x). One of the most incredible aspects of having an independent business in Norwich is the support network from everyone in the industry. 

Can you run me through a typical day? 
We begin each day in the kitchen by 7am, to get the oven on and the wholesale orders packed and ready for collection mid-morning. Our counter cake display changes daily, which means we are always working in the kitchen. We open for customers at 10am, Tuesday-Saturday, for cakes and coffee. From noon until close, we serve our plated dessert menu and wine list. Every element of what we make comes out of our open kitchen, so customers can watch. 

What’s been the highlight for your business so far?
The fact that we are able to support the Norwich Foodbank with significant donations every month based on sales of our signature dessert. Being intertwined in the community makes every day feel special. 

What’s the strangest request you’ve had from a customer? 
We were once asked for our ‘sugar free’ menu.

What one thing couldn’t your business function without?
Our team and our customers!   

What’s the best thing about working for yourself? 
It’s brilliant to be able to purchase whatever equipment Jaime wants, such as a pastry brake or a rotary evaporator. These types of kitchen purchases can be near impossible to justify for a corporation but they lead to some incredible creations here.

And the hardest part? 
It’s hard to turn off, especially when you are married to your business partner! 

What do you wish you’d known when you first started out? 
That you can’t please everyone. We do what we do, and we do it well, but it will not always suit everyone’s needs. 

If you could go back and change one thing what would it be? 
I would have hired staff earlier on. Thanks goodness for FSB, as our membership kept us feeling like we could handle all the HR stuff! 

How does your FSB membership help? 
FSB is invaluable in gathering all the research I need into one easy-to-find location. From HR questions to pensions to insurance, there’s an answer!

Where will the business be in five years’ time? 
We hope to significantly expand our events and catering, as I especially love planning for festivals, fayres, weddings and birthdays.

What do you do outside work? 
There’s life outside work?