Celebrating its one-year anniversary we visited Blue Daisy, the patisserie in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park that everyone loves.
We got up to a lot of things during lockdown to pass the time. Some of us took up baking banana bread. Some learnt how to play instruments. Many decided to learn arts and crafts. For Cologne-born Emily Brausem, deciding to transport a Chinese tuktuk from Northern Germany to the East End of London and start a coffee business was more up her street.
After moving to Hastings in the UK and living with a host family during her diploma studies, Brausem’s love for the UK blossomed. Now, her love for the hustle and bustle of East London means she’s spent the last four years living with her older sister Lisa, on Malmesbury Road. She has set up her own coffee business on wheels, and has officially become an East London girl.
Brausem has always worked in hospitality since she was a student, and it was getting a job at Violet Cakes, a Hackney-based bakery, that brought her back to her passion for baking. Violet Cakes worked on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding cake in 2018. ‘It was a very busy and hectic time,’ Brausem chuckles, ‘I joined just after so I got the aftermath of the chaos’.
The idea for the tuk-tuk came from her father, to whom Brausem is extremely close. After feeling a little lost and jobless during the lockdown, 27-year-old Brausem decided she wanted to use her love for baking to provide cakes for bakeries. Then her dad found a Chinese tuk-tuk on eBay back in her homeland and her life changed course dramatically. ‘Two days later he’s in Northern Germany calling me like, “Well, shall we get it then?”.’ Smiling widely, she adds,. ‘Next thing I know, we’re two months into completely reconstructing the tuk-tuk.’
Her father is an engineer and architect, so helped Brausem with the reconstruction. This included new tyres, lights and paint as well as a complete guttering. On top of the build, Brausem spent months on a laptop scanning legal PDFs and paperwork.
The project became successful due to a massive crowdfunding mission she launched in conjunction with NatWest’s Back Her Business. The programme supports female entrepreneurs and offers 50% backing, of up to five thousand pounds. Thanks to the support from her friends and strangers, she reached her target and received the grant.
Her business is now one year old. When asked why her iconic Blue Daisy logo is a chicory flower, she giggles and lifts up her arm to show me a chicory plant tattooed on her forearm. ‘I feel like the flower has followed me my entire life. It surrounded my childhood home in Germany, it grew outside Violet Cakes when I worked there, and it is known for being a streetside growing plant, just like my business.’
She looks out across the path of Cemetery Park’s Southern Grove entrance. ‘And it grows here, so I get to look out and admire this plant everyday. The best part of it is that chicory is a coffee substitute, and can be made into coffee itself.’ The chicory plant is more commonly known as blue daisy, which appeared more catchy to Brausem and became the name of her business. ‘The plant reminds me of home, so naming my business after it will always remind me of that.’
Brausem admits that the project wasn’t always so simple. ‘The hardest part of the process was the legal side, highlighting pages of documents for registering the tuktuk which was unnamed and nearly impossible to register as roadworthy.’ She wipes the sweat off her head on this hot day remembering the struggle.
Our conversation is interrupted multiple times by many dogs who run up to Brausem, as well as their human companions who also greet her as they order their coffees. She knows them all by name, dogs and their owners. ‘I’ve become the local blackboard’ she says, ‘you need a dog walker? Don’t worry I know someone. I’ve just recently helped home a puppy for one of my customers.’ She smiles behind my shoulder and I see another furry friend and a customer run up for some coffee and a neck scratch.
‘All our coffees and treats are organic and made by me’, she says proudly after she sits back down from serving the customer, ‘I even have a foraging license, which I use to pick elderflowers from the park to make elderflower syrup’. Her menu is seasonal, and the best-selling items vary. In the winter it’s her gooey black forest cookies with sour cherries. But this time of year it’s her light and fluffy almond and orange souffles.
Brausem prides herself on being a sustainable business, and her packaging is compostable and biodegradable. Her coffee is sourced from Flying Horse coffee on Mare Street, after deliberating on a number of different brands. She also aims to always offer vegan and gluten-free options, her staple being her homemade sweet potato blondie.
Brausem begins to tell me about her older sister Lisa. ‘She’s my flatmate and best friend, and much better at business than me’. She shows me her hands and wiggles her fingers laughing, ‘I’m much more practical while she’s more academic, and she’s much better at projections and numbers than me.’
As we look out to the cemetery’s gardens, Brausem’s face beams with pride, evident even behind her sunglasses. ‘I just love the people, it’s like an instant reward for the work you do seeing their smiles. If you just did cake deliveries you would miss that.’
When asked about expanding she pauses and thinks for a while. ‘I would like to expand one day but that would mean entrusting other people and me moving more behind the scenes, which would take me from everything I love about this job. For now, I’m happy here with my freedom and being hands-on.’
Brausem serves many customers during the conversation, one being a loyal Blue Daisy coffee drinker Tom Blackmoore. ‘I met Emily last year and have been coming regularly ever since. I love the coffee and the company.’ Blackmoore looks over at Brausem who can’t help but smile in light embarrassment. ‘So much so that I actually asked her to bake mine and my wife’s wedding cake’.
A business is only as good as its customer satisfaction, and Blue Daisy is a prime example of that. Brausem’s customers love the Blue Daisy as much as she does, which is why this small, homegrown business has become so successful.
So if you’re ever around Cemetery Park, and feel like a coffee and a nice chat, or a pet of a dog, Blue Daisy is open Thursday to Sunday from 8am to 4pm.
If you enjoyed this piece, check out our article about Coffee and Fripes.
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