When someone is a professional baker, you can be forgiven for thinking that they would be bubbly and sweet (sugar, spice and all things nice, as the saying goes...) but when I met up with Camille from PIP & LOU. earlier this week, I was surprised to find her to be strong, bold and unapologetic.
If you've read anything about her, you would know that she has created one of Canberra's most on-trend brands from home, creating a completely unique style of desserts, that frankly were originally dismissed, being considered to be unrefined, messy, and just plain odd.
Kicking off PIP & LOU. in 2013, Camille was baking predominately for friends and family, and what started as a hobby and distraction - from a turbulent divorce at 23 that left her bankrupt, (something she is honest about, but in no way plays on), blossomed into a booming business.
When friends and family started to ask her to make her 'beautifully messy' cakes for them, she initially saw it only as an avenue through which she was able to express herself creatively. As time went on and she got more confident in her skills, she began to see the opportunity to create something even better for herself: a fulfilling and independent career.
Camille's ability to juggle launching a small business whilst raising her daughter as a single parent is awe inspiring to say the least. From the home kitchen to now having her cakes and sweets sold in boutiques in Canberra and Sydney; PIP & LOU. is bigger than ever.
Camille is completely booked for the wedding seasons until 2018 and she receives on average, 200 enquiries each week. Unsurprisingly, Camille has recently employed an Executive Assistant to help with the business administration for 20 hours a week.
We caught up to chat about her whirlwind last few years, and how she feels to be a female entrepreneur in the modern landscape.
When I asked her about her thoughts on this she genuinely surprised me. I guess I was expecting the usual gush about female empowerment and how amazing it is that everyone supports each other – which if we are being open, often can be a blanket statement. Lovely as it is, it can be something that we hide behind without really meaning.
"I call bullshit on the whole girl gang thing, to be honest.
Do I believe that women should support each other? Absolutely! Do I worry that the whole "girl gang" notion is a nice excuse to keep everyone at the same level where they are all comfortable with each other's success? Yes."
Camille continued to explain, "we should be able to and comfortable to support other business women regardless of the level of their success. It's almost seen as breaking the girl code by getting more successful than your female counterparts, or owning that success confidently. That someone's ability to support you and their happiness to see you rise only goes so far. Labelled as a callous, money hungry and ready to step on anyone who gets in your way, which is absolutely untrue."
Camille is strong, determined, and fiercely proud of what she's created.
"I've worked hard but I'm proud of that; I've never had anyone holding my hand through this. I've achieved what I've achieved through working long hours, baking endlessly, delivering everything myself with a bub tucked in the backseat."
Camille's drive to succeed is founded on her want to be a role model for her daughter, and I most certainly think she has succeeded in doing this. She did not let often difficult circumstances stop her from achieving her dreams and succeeding as a small business.
Camille is a woman who has created something admirable in the business world but more than anything, she has overcome adversity and bounced back better, stronger – to be not only a role model for her daughter, but a role model for women – inspiring women in the local Canberra community and beyond.