The Plant Academy's journey:
The Plant Academy was established in early 2017 by me, Ellie, then aged 24. I have worked in hospitality since I was 14 and had gained a range of experience from serving tables, to working in busy kitchens. I realised there was a gap in the market for high quality vegan food and cake and decided to open up my own vegan cafe, cook the food, brew the coffee, bake the cakes and most importantly look after you lovely lot. At the time we opened, were the only vegan cafe in the whole of Merseyside!
It was nothing short of madness from the start, we loved you and you seemed to love us back just as much. But our home in Southport Indoor Market just wasn't right and our search from a new home was fruitless and in the summer of 2018 we decided to close. It was an incredibly hard decision because The Plant Academy is one of my greatest loves and I suspect it always will be.
Since then, I have been working in restaurant management, including spending a year managing restaurants in North Wales, most notably managing a vegan pop up restaurant for 6 months in Anglesey. It was an extremely challenging job which included ridiculously long hours and many many tears - some happy, some sad, some frustrated - but it was one of the greatest growth and learning experiences of my life.
After moving back home to Southport in early 2020, the plan had been to finally find The Plant Academy a new home, I found somewhere perfect but couldn't come to a final agreement with the landlord, I'd just found a new management job to keep me going in the mean time, and then suddenly Covid started to rear its ugly head in the UK. I dropped all my plans and lost my new job and began to realise the industry I'd spent my entire career in was being hit hard and was going to be an even more challenging place to work in now than it was before. One thing was for sure, The Plant Academy would not be finding a new home right now.
Which leads us to 'the cake plan' - I came up with this plan, to bake to my hearts content, during lockdown. And, in early September when we moved to a real life grown up house with a real life actual sized kitchen, I was able to finally get going. And I'm so excited to be here.
I always love to know about the human behind the business so I thought I'd share a few fun facts with you so you can get to know the person making your cakes!
As many of you know, I'm Ellie - Hi! - I'm 28 and passionate about living a plant based lifestyle. I live in Southport with my wonderful husband, Andy, and our 6 year old poodle, Peanut.
I've been vegan for about 5 years, but I was actually brought up vegetarian. My dad has been vegetarian for 30+ years and went vegan with me!
When I'm not baking, I love to read and I regularly devour fantasy and romance books. I also enjoy writing and I'm currently keeping myself busy writing a novel.
You'll usually find me wearing my favourite charity shop or vintage find as I am a big believer in second hand fashion.
I like red lipstick and oat milk lattes.
I have played the flute since I was 5 years old and in 'normal' times I play in a local wind orchestra.
I have two chronic illnesses that I've been diagnosed with in the past couple of years but have suffered with for a long time - Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS or M.E.) and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). They do effect me to varying severities and they're one of the biggest factors in me wishing to work for myself again, as opposed to working for someone else. Sometimes you just have to put yourself first!
I have a Masters degree in Religious Studies and wrote my thesis on The Bhagavadgita.
I actually met my best friend on the opening day of The Plant Academy. She was one of my best customers and it turned out we had more in common than loving vegan cake - although eating vegan cake is still one of our favourite things to do when we hang out together.