Baker who rejected Catherine Tyldesley’s request for free cakes reveals the positive impact it’s had on her business

Gemma Thomas
Gemma Thomas
6 Min Read

Amidst towering displays of lemon meringue cupcakes and homemade raspberry macarons, the Three Little Birds bakery team in Keighley, West Yorkshire, has found themselves exceptionally busy. Customers have formed queues that stretch out of the door, the phone has been incessantly ringing, and the team of dedicated female bakers, clad in aprons and blue hairnets, have been toiling well into the early hours to fulfil the growing number of cake orders.

Amidst this bustling activity, the bakery’s owner, 37-year-old Rebecca Severs (who prefers the name ‘Bec’), finds herself ruing her decision to take a week off work. This holiday marks her family’s first since the previous August, and unfortunately, it coincides with her family business becoming embroiled in a heated online controversy termed ‘Cakegate.’

‘Cake-gate’ Catherine took to Instagram to slam the baker who shared her response when asked by a party planner for free cakes for her in exchange for social media exposure

In an exclusive interview with the Mail, Bec expresses her astonishment at the unexpected events. Her bakery opened merely three months ago and became the epicentre of a viral storm she hadn’t anticipated.

‘I don’t have a huge social media following, so I thought it would just be a bit of fun,’ she reveals, reflecting on her viral Facebook post. In this post, she called out a VIP party planner, Leeds-based Nvrlnd, for attempting to secure two cakes and 100 cupcakes for a celebrity’s 40th birthday. The planner offered ‘payment’ in the form of promotional exposure to their 700,000+ social media followers and coverage in OK! Magazine.

Bec elaborates that the order, depending on its intricacy and detailing, should have amounted to around £675, reflecting the painstaking effort and expertise dedicated to each of her creations.

Responding to Nvrlnd’s proposal, Bec asserted, “My mortgage provider doesn’t take payment in the form of promotion on their socials.”

She explains, “I’ve encountered similar situations; it’s a recurring theme in our industry. Fair compensation for services rendered is crucial for sustaining businesses and livelihoods.”

Rebecca’s bakery: Three Little Birds in Keighley, West Yorkshire

Following Bec’s post making headlines, it was revealed by the Daily Mail that the celebrity involved was former Coronation Street actress and Strictly star Catherine Tyldesley. Catherine’s Instagram response, recorded in a BMW and wearing a £120 sweatshirt and £180 glasses, was considered by some as ironic. She expressed bewilderment over the uproar, stating, “I don’t really know what to say. I mean, I hope the cake lady got the exposure she was craving.”

Critics have pointed out that Catherine, with an annual income of £100,000 during her time on Corrie and a reported net worth of £800,000, hardly requires freebies when she could easily afford to pay the full price.

In contrast, Bec, a hardworking mother of three, initiated her baking venture in 2015 from her kitchen table. She followed her passion for baking, instilled by her mum and late aunt Liz, who ignited her interest in cake decorating. Before focusing on baking full-time, Bec was engaged in legal publishing, baking for friends and family. She moved to Keighley in 2008, where she married her husband Aidan, a local.

Rebecca Severs has been praised for her response to a company asking for a free birthday cake for Catherine

Despite her dedication, Bec faced financial challenges, even questioning the viability of her venture. “I remember working it out after one Christmas — I made £2 an hour — and thinking, why am I doing this? It’s so stressful and it’s so time-consuming but I’m not really making a proper wage.”

It wasn’t until May of this year that Bec’s dream of opening a shop in Keighley finally materialised, following pandemic-related delays and other setbacks. The shop’s success surpassed her expectations, necessitating additional staff and garnering robust support from the local community.

Three Little Birds prides itself on sourcing locally, using ingredients like nearby dairy butter, delivered milk, British sugar, organic eggs, and sustainable chocolate.

Catherine Tyldesley with husband Tom Pitfield at a red carpet event which she is said to be fond of attending

Bec and her husband invested their savings and relentless effort into the venture, with long hours and meticulous dedication. The family has experienced a need for frugality, but the risks they’ve taken fuel their determination to succeed.

The controversy with Nvrlnd has prompted Bec to advocate for transparency in business transactions and to encourage women to charge fairly for their work and expertise. She remains committed to her team’s well-being and business success.

Party planner Nvrlnd disputes Bec’s account and threatens legal action, asserting they would have covered the bakery’s expenses and costs. However, Bec emphasises the importance of clarity and fair compensation, advocating that women shouldn’t feel guilty about seeking payment for their work and skills.

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