Choose cake, choose kindness, choose community. These are the words that adorn the website for Lil’s Parlour, named after owner Lucy’s Nan. We couldn’t think of a better mantra to live by. This bakery based in Birmingham’s Northfield isn’t just all talk either. It puts its money where its mouth is by letting people pay what they can for its beautiful selection of handmade treats, cakes, and bakes.
That’s correct. Lil’s Parlour is the UK’s first pay-as-you-can bakery. Starting in 2015, it wasn’t until 2022 that Lucy decided to “run this business my way and for the good of the community.” So in June of last year, Lil’s Parlour became a Community Interest Company that exists to “benefit the community rather than private shareholders.” Now open every Saturday, between 11 am – 3 pm, Lil’s Parlour CIC is for everybody to enjoy.
Some of the regular delicious treats you’ll discover at this pioneering, woman-owned business include brownies, cookies, cupcakes and more. But the menu changes every week depending on ingredients available and seasonality, plus Lucy wants to stay creative with her bakes (A quick look at Lil’s Instagram will show how creative she can get!) Most are baked in-house though and freshly made each week. Now it’s summer again, there are also freshly made ice creams in-store.
How does pay-as-you-can work?
It’s exactly what it sounds like. Each item carries a recommended donation, but if you can’t afford it, there is no obligation to pay the full price. No one is ever turned away from Lil’s Parlour. Whatever you can afford, the best way to ensure Lil’s Parlour keeps going is if people use it.
If you’re feeling a little flush with cash this month, however, you can always pay more or pay it forward for the next customer. For those that can’t make it down but love the concept, you can also donate a coffee or a cake to a local customer by heading here. Because everyone deserves a sweet treat this week.
Not everything is about the cakes at Lil’s Parlour. Community is central to everything and the bakery also offers a number of community outreach sessions. There is a range of sessions designed not only to teach a new skill but alleviate loneliness, encourage conversation and provide a safe space. Making and sharing food together, they are suitable for a whole range of community groups, children and adults. Previous workshops were facilitated by Birmingham City Council, Bring it Brum, Girl Guiding, Forest School and Sandwell Council.
To learn more about Lil’s Parlour CIC head here.