When Leaving Certificate student Alice Kelly came across a 1960s vintage pony box for sale online in recent weeks, she knew she had to have it. She had wanted to be a baker for as long as she can remember.
As a child, she wrote primary school letters to her future self telling her she’d bake for a living when she grew up. Now, she is building her first business in the form of a pop-up bakery stand.
“I’ve been baking since I could hold a spoon. It’s just what I’ve always wanted to do, so I bit the bullet and bought the box,” she said.
Each day, after she finished her exams, she returned to her home in Kildare to resume the second week of work on the renovations of her new bakery.
The preparation for her new business includes welding, carpentry, painting and food safety courses. She is currently focused on the roof, making sure it’s waterproof, and arranging an inspection to ensure it will be safe and hygienic enough to handle food.
The pony box is estimated to be from the 1960s and was an 18th birthday present from her family.
“I found it on a second-hand website. I was just scrolling and I saw it and thought, this is it, this is what I want. So we hopped in the car and went to the midlands to pick it up.”
The vintage look is something that was important to Kelly, and she will paint it pink and cream, like a cupcake.
“During the pandemic, I saw lots of coffee shops popping up. When people couldn’t walk into stores, everyone picked a different plan and became portable. I decided I want to do that, but they were all coffee shops, and I’m not a big fan of coffee. I wanted a bakery,” Kelly said.
She is optimistic about its prospects after receiving widespread support both in her personal life and online, amassing more than 200,000 followers on Instagram and 350,000 on TikTok. Each day, she posts video updates to her followers about the process of converting the pony box into a food truck.
She has not opened a public fundraising campaign, saying she would feel “guilty” to take money from others and is happy enough with the engagement her project is receiving.
“Everyone is quite excited. Within the first week I had about 100,000 followers online. It was shocking. No human is able to comprehend that, especially me, trying to study for my Leaving Cert at the same time.
“I was delighted though. It’s created a pressure, but a good pressure. It will be my priority over the summer, but for now, the Leaving Cert comes first.”
Kelly doesn’t know yet where she'll be based. She’ll start off in Kildare before “hopefully moving around all over Ireland” with the bakery. She hopes to study culinary arts in college over the coming years to help strengthen her skills.