Hello! My name is Charlie Smark… myself and my Mum, Janine, run Dollys Desserts! Dollys is a small desserts business based in Barnsley, UK. We run a shop and also an online service!
Dollys first started when my Mum and I went on holiday and saw the idea of ‘Thai ice cream rolls’. We loved the concept and saw that only one other company in the UK was doing it, so we saw a gap in the market! That was how our first business ‘Ice Queenz’ came about! We would go to various food and drink festivals across the UK, and we loved every second, as well as running our first shop in Barnsley.
The only disadvantage was that the festival trade didn’t last all year round, so we started building up our menu and adding new desserts as well as starting to make our very own gelato! This was just the beginning!
We saw the town was opening a brand new food court and dining area called ‘The Market Kitchen’. We made the big move, rebranded as Dollys Desserts and we were off! We continued to sell our homemade gelato and we have now been there for over a year, loving it all.
I briefly went to sixth-form but there wasn’t anything particular that I wanted to do until I started Dollys with my Mum. I worked part-time at Dolly’s until I decided the sixth form wasn’t for me and started full-time. I was so lucky to have supportive friends and family surrounding me.
Dollys is open 7 days a week, and my Mum and I usually work 5 days, starting at 11 am, when the rest of the marketplace often start. On the weekend, we usually work later, most often putting away deliveries, and cleaning! Before opening, we do stock checks, make our whippy ice cream so it is fresh for the day, turn all our machines on, and grab a coffee so we are fuelled for the morning!
On a typical day, we make crepes, waffles, cookie dough as well as serving and scooping lots of fresh icecreams! We make sure regularly throughout the day that we have plenty of stock for eggs, bananas and strawberries, as they run out quickly! We like to use as much as local produce as possible, supporting local farms and businesses in and around Yorkshire.
Our busiest day is definitely Saturdays, where sometimes we will have a constant queue of 12+ people! We also normally get families coming in on a Saturday, which means we have lots of people and lots of orders! The most popular is definitely the Kinder Bueno Cookie Dough!
My favourite orders to make are crepes, anyone that knows me, knows I love a crepe. They are so satisfying to make! Ice cream sundaes are probably the hardest thing to make during rush hours as there are so many steps to making them perfect!
One thing that people may not know about Dollys is that we make all of our own gelato fresh, and it is one of my favourite things to do. We even get some of our products from Italy to give it that special touch!
Most days we close Dollys at 5, apart from weekends when we stay later! My work doesn’t stop there though, I keep up all the social media for Dollys also.
I started making Tik Tok videos this year, but I never thought in a million years that my videos would go viral! I was hesitant about making videos originally because I was worried about what people would think, but it is the best thing that could’ve happened for Dollys.
I genuinely love making the videos, and people find it so satisfying to watch us making our desserts! The videos all got such a positive response, and we got so many more people following our journey as a family-ran business. We had people from all over the UK coming to visit Dollys! It was all so surreal.
Dollys, like so many other small businesses, has been affected negatively by Covid, but we like to stay positive when we can. It was difficult, as we made so many adjustments to our shop to make it safe, such as installing plastic screens and wearing gloves, masks and visors, which came at a huge cost. After we were asked to close again after making all these changes, it was so disheartening, as we feel we are Covid safe now, following all guidelines and more to protect our workers and lovely customers.
We aim to open up again as soon as we can, but in the meantime, we have been selling our BIY (Bake It Yourself) boxes! Our BIY boxes are all cookie dough ingredients and recipes, for you to bake at home, getting the Dollys experience from wherever you are! It was so important for us to sell the BIY boxes to everyone and anyone in the UK, who can’t travel to Dollys at the moment, as we wanted to bring it to you in this unprecedented times! We have nine different cookie doughs offered on the website at the minute, and we are so proud of them all.
Nowadays, with Dollys being closed due to current restrictions, I am busy getting stock for our BIY’s, putting the speaker on full blast and making as many boxes as we can!
The support has been unmatched… we see it all and we are so appreciative. Our customers and followers are so kind and patient with us, as we grow and learn as a small family business during these strange times!