How success began with some sticky toffee pudding...

Helen Colley, MD and owner of premium pudding company Farmhouse Fare, based in rural Lancashire, says that she is not just in her dream job, but also in her dream company.

"It's my hobby, my career and my life," she says. "I have always wanted to do this because I love food and love providing products with a feel-good factor."

Colley has steered the company a long way from its humble beginnings more than 18 years ago as an outside catering business. She started it as an 18-year-old straight from catering college with a bank loan of just £250, her parent's kitchen and a refrigerated van.

However, in 1998 at a charity coffee morning for MacMillan Nurses, demand for the company's sticky toffee pudding was so great that she approached Booths Supermarkets for a listing.

Now, Farmhouse Fare supplies Asda, Booths, Budgens, Costco, Makro, Morrisons, Sainsbury, Selfridges, Spar, Tesco and Waitrose with a range of 16 traditional hot puddings, plus bruleés, cheesecakes, trifles and munch pots. It also supplies Waitrose coffee shops with a selection of biscuits, scones and tray-bakes.

Colley says her weeks are always varied. Having finished work on the company's summer and winter plans, Colley is considering a number of Christmas ideas.

"It's quite disorientating because my ideas at the moment are all about mincemeat, apples and mulled fruits, even though to everyone else it is spring," she says.

Colley says her typical week involves working five days and four nights. Much of her time, she says, is spent discussing new product development, but she also has her fair share of store visits, tastings and testings, and runs the company's manufacturing site.

"I definitely don't live at my desk," she says.

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