Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

Pioneer of the Week: Sarah Hilleary from B-Tempted

Community Manager

Pioneer of the Week: Sarah Hilleary from B-Tempted

In business is it really possible to have your cake and eat it?  Yes, says Sarah Hilleary, @sarahhilleary founder of gluten-free treats brand, B-Tempted. We caught up with the sweet-toothed entrepreneur to find out more.


Introduce you and your business.

Sarah Hilleary - BTempted Sq.pngSarah HillearyI'm Sarah Hilleary and I'm founder and Chief Temptation Officer of B-Tempted gluten-free cakes. We are on a mission to be the world's number one gluten-free cake brand.


Tell us two interesting facts about you.

  • I’m from a small beach town in Australia with a population of 2,000.
  • Twelve years ago, I flew to Europe just two days after my final university exam with the intention of moving to London. I had fallen in love with a German exchange student Down Under, but it didn't work out. He's now married and back living in Australia. Meanwhile I'm still here - with no regrets. Life is sweet! We all love a cake pun!

How did you start your business?

I started baking from my home kitchen, simply wanting to create a range of gluten-free products that I loved. I baked for my flatmates and tested the products at Greenwich market. When they sold out on the first day, I knew I was onto something. However, I also knew that I wasn't cut out to be a market trader, and that I'd need sales volume in order make this into a business I would enjoy.


What made you start your business?

As an avid foodie, when I chose to reduce the amount of gluten and wheat in my diet, I was astounded at the lack of great tasting gluten-free products on the market. So I made my own. I also did some research and discovered that gluten-free was a growing trend.


What do you love most about being an entrepreneur?

The variability in my day to day activities. I love the challenge. It's very rewarding.


What has been the biggest challenge for you so far?

I underestimated the amount of effort it would take to start a business as a solo founder, in another country when my family were on the other side of the world. This meant I had to continue supporting myself while launching the business. Additionally, learning to manage cash in a business, whereby we sell to retailers on credit terms, has been a huge challenge which does not go away completely. You just learn to deal with it better.


Can you share an experience that helped you take your business forward?

A lot of people are happy to give advice without taking the time to fully understand your exact problem in the context of your business. Because I had little experience in the food industry, when I started out I assumed that everyone else was an expert, which immediately put me on the back foot. Information and advice is relative; what works for you, may not work for someone else and their business.


The best piece advice I received was from an investor. He said, "You can take as much advice from as many people as you like. But ultimately make your own decision. Once you have done that, communicate it to your investors as the chosen path. Also, don't be afraid of telling your investors if you need more money. The last thing we want is for the business to fail because you ran out of money and didn't tell us. If you tell us, we can help you."


This helped me realise my power and feel supported, in that I have a vision, and my investors believe in my ability to make this happen. Also, it's so easy to overthink decisions. But making a decision is better than no decision at all, otherwise you're stuck in limbo.


Where do you work from?

The bakery - I have a converted railway arch in Leytonstone, East London.


What do you wish you knew when you first started in business?

How long it would take to gain traction; your first business will not be an overnight success. People try to take advantage of new entrepreneurs in business. Question everything. If someone speaks in jargon, ask them what they mean. Sometimes people use industry jargon to make themselves sound more impressive, or to confuse you.


What are your three top tips for your industry?

  • Firstly, focus on what sells.
  • Secondly, be confident in your product.
  • Thirdly, food is so visual. Remember that people buy with their eyes. 

What would you like to ask the Voom Pioneers community?

Please support us on our upcoming episode of Dragons' Den! Our episode will be broadcast on Sunday 15th October at 8pm on BBC Two. Please tune in to watch the show and give your support on social media.


I'd also encourage any VOOM Pioneers to apply to be on the show. It's an incredible opportunity to get your brand in front of millions!


Wishing you the best of luck in the Den. We’ll be tuning in