Crafty award double for South Tyneside’s Katy Sue Designs

A rapidly expanding South Tyneside craft and cake decorating products business has risen to the occasion to clinch double success at a prestigious national awards ceremony.

By Kevin Clark
Thursday, 14 February, 2019, 05:00
Sue Balfour and Linda Ayres.

Two of Katy Sue Designs Ltd’s best-selling cake moulds beat the field at the Housewares Innovation Awards 2019 – putting the icing on the cake to a year of growth.

Judges named its unicorn cake decorating mould the best around when deciding the Sugarcraft Innovation Award category.

Linda Ayres and Sue Balfour.

And the South Shields firm secured a clean sweep in the same category when its continuous quilting cake decorating mould was highly commended.

It is the latest chapter of success in a 25-year story of innovation and enterprise in which turnover is forecast to jump from £2million to £10million in the next five years.

That is the ambition of founders Doreen Thompson, 61, her daughter Sue Balfour, 51, and chairman Neil Stephenson, 48, who has overseen staff and sales increases since coming on board last year.

Sue, a married mum who lives in South Shields, said: “We were up against some massive companies, but managed to win. We did exceptionally well.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“I was a little disappointed but still pleased when it was read out that we were highly commended, I thought that was that. But when they then said that we had won in the same category, I really couldn’t believe it. It was a total surprise and quite fantastic.

“This is real seal of approval from some of our biggest customers.”

Grandmother Doreen, and Sue, established the Henry Robson Way business as Katy Sue Dolls, in March 1994, specialising in making miniature porcelain dolls for collectors.

Twelve years later and supplying collectors in 28 countries, they sought a new challenge for their creative talents and switched to papercraft. Renamed Katy Sue Designs Ltd, they began manufacturing and designing market-leading craft products.

In late 2012 they again looked to diversify and created a range of silicone moulds for the decorating market.

Within a year the company had won the Craft and Hobby Association of America’s most innovative product award for its cupcake topper moulds.