A long-standing family business in Hemel Hempstead that manufactures cake decorating equipment is adding a new string to its bow.
FMM Sugarcraft, based at the Chancerygate Business Centre on Whiteleaf Road, is to open a coffee shop - and classrooms for cake workshops and demonstrations.
Joe's Coffee Shop and Creative Space, which launches on Monday, April 4, is the idea of Lucie Clements, 30, who works alongside mum Grace, 55, the owner of FMM.
Grace explained: "We sell stuff all over the world, to more than 30 different countries, but the last couple of years, during the Covid-19 pandemic, have not been easy for the cake industry.
"There have been very few weddings or parties, so no need for celebration cakes. We managed to get through it, but we felt we needed to diversify, and Lucie came up with the idea of the coffee shop.
"It is named after my father Joseph, a lovely man who died at the age of 93 four years ago. He and my mum, Mary, who lives in Bovingdon, set up FMM back in 1948.
"They started in a garage at their home in Edgware, north London, running the business in their spare time while my mum worked as a health visitor and my dad worked for the gas board.
"The company actually began by making filter coffee bags and evolved over the years. So it has turned full circle now with us selling coffee!"
Joseph and Mary moved to the Hemel Hempstead area about 45 years ago and later bought a business unit at Kings Langley. After outgrowing that, the company switched to Chancerygate, from where it has continued to thrive and now employs six people.
The coffee shop, which will open from 8am to 2pm, will be aimed primarily at the breakfast and lunch market, selling food such as paninis, croissants and cakes, as well as drinks.
"I am very excited about it," said Grace, who lives in Flaunden. "I'm also nervous because I have never done anything like this before in my life. But we are hoping it works.
"People have started mixing again after Covid, so we're hoping they will pop in. Similar shops have been successful at business units elsewhere, such as Flourish in Watford.
"In business, change is inevitable and adapting to change is of utmost importance.
"We have transformed and adapted FMM over the years to become what it is today."
The classroom is also a novel first for FMM. Hands-on workshops will be open to anyone who wants to learn the art of cake making and cake decorating, while two demonstrations have already been organised for the opening weeks of the venture.
Two well-known 'star names' in the cake industry, Natalie Porter and Cassie Brown, have been enlisted to give the demos on Saturday, April 9 and Saturday, April 30 respectively, both from 11am to 3pm.
Natalie runs Immaculate Confections from Roydon in Essex, while the award-winning Cassie runs Passion4cakes, based in Worcestershire. To book a place at either event, go to the FMM website at www.fmmsugarcraft.com
Grace is confident all 24 spaces for each demonstration will be snapped up, and she is also proud of the fact that FMM is placing a serious emphasis on sustainability.
Known as a 'greening company', it is moving to biodegradable material in the near future for its packaging, which is already fully recyclable.
Whether it's in cakes, coffee shops, creative spaces or carbon footprints, there's no doubt that FMM is moving confidently forward towards its 75th anniversary in 2023.