A teenager from Woking’s Goldsworth Park who started her own bakery business when she was 12 says she wants to inspire other young people to follow their passion.

Pearl Alighieri began Pearl’s Bakes in July 2020, spurred by the monotony of the pandemic lockdown. She provides baked goods across Surrey, using social media for her marketing.

Pearl says her passion for baking stems from her Italian family, who have been a key part of the food scene in Woking.

‘‘Growing up, I have been surrounded by the culture of making food,’’ she said.

‘‘Italians are stereotypically known for their food culture and ever since I was young, my grandma and mum taught me the basics of baking and cooking which I fell in love with.

‘‘My grandad Giovanni Alighieri was one of the owners of one of the first pizzerias in Woking – known as Sinuessa on High Street – and my dad Graeme Alighieri and grandad Pasquale Genco were in a partnership and used to own a coffee shop named Caffe Centrale down Church Path.’’

Pearl learnt about running a business as she progressed.

‘‘I had limited knowledge regarding the intricacies of business. It was a whole new world for me and I had to learn how to navigate it.

‘‘As I progressed, my understanding of the functioning of a business increased and I began to get the hang of it – my social-media engagement increased and I began to become known. 

‘‘I offer a range of bakes such as brownies, rocky roads, tarts and themed boxes of baked goods, which I pursued when I realised there was a gap in the market in Woking. Occasionally, I make cakes too.

‘‘I wanted to share the joy of baking with the younger generation, so I decided to do an Instagram live stream where parents and children could join me baking and follow along step by step.

‘‘It was extremely nerve-wracking knowing that I was live streaming and children were following me as their baking leader but the feedback I received after was extraordinary and made me quite emotional. 

‘‘One parent told me I had lit up their child’s day and that that following week, they demanded to bake ‘just like Pearl’. 

‘‘Knowing that I gave these children something to look forward to and that I could share what I love to do has made my journey incredible and I can’t wait to hold another one soon.

‘‘I operate through Instagram under @pearls.bakes – people message me with what they want and they collect the bakes from my house.’’

Pearl says she has suffered setbacks, but overcoming them has made her stronger.

‘‘For example, being a young entrepreneur I haven’t been taken seriously at times but this only taught me to fight for what I love to do. 

‘‘Running this small business has opened up multiple doors for me and I have found that I have learnt so much about myself and what I am capable of doing.

‘‘My family have been my biggest supporters. They have advised me when I have faced difficulty or been unsure. 

‘‘Pearl’s Bakes has taught me that no matter your age or experience, you are capable of starting your own business. I am grateful for all my customers, who have ordered and supported me every step of the way.

‘‘In the future, I hope to turn my business into a career and potentially go into dessert catering, for example specialising in dessert grazing tables as you don’t see or hear much of them in Woking or opening a bakery/cafe where I can produce my high-quality goods to a larger base of customers.

‘‘I would also like to provide an event planning service to go hand in hand as a way of expansion for the business.”