After working for more than 30 years in elderly care Cushla Hodge decided to follow her passion for baking. She enrolled at Ara Institute of Canterbury to train as a baker. Now, one and a half years later she runs her own bakery ‘Cushla’s Kitchen’ in Timaru.
“When I turned 50 I realised I had been doing the same job for the last 30 years. I liked the job, but I got to a point where it was the same thing every day. It was an effort to get up and go to work. While now I’m out the door at 4.30 in morning and I’m happy.”
Cushla in her own bakery Cushla's Kitchen
Cushla had always enjoyed baking, so she decided pursue this passion and enrolled for the Level 4 Career Baker programme at Ara. She was a bit nervous, as she has never liked education.
“I quit studying in year 12 and immediately started working. I hated school, but I’ve always liked cooking and baking. The course at Ara was great, my classmates were brilliant and the tutors amazing. The hardest thing was improving my computer skills, but I got good support.”
Besides learning how to bake the students also worked on their business skills.
“Ara helped me to find the confidence to set up my own business. I didn’t only learn how to bake, but also how to get the confidence to take that step forward.”
Cushla had her last class in November last year and opened the doors of her own bakery only a few days later.
“It is a big step forward for me. The opportunity presented itself. It feels good to own a bakery.”
The business has been running for four months and is doing well. Cushla even employs one of her classmates.
“She’s 18, we were the youngest and oldest from the class, but we worked best together.”
Cushla on the right with her classmate and now employee Wiki Wooldridge.
When asked what her favourite delicacy in the bakery is, Cushla says: “We make it all, but we are the only place in Timaru that does cronuts and they are delicious.”