WHEN a friend asked dancer Kimberley Brewser if she could conjure up a vegan cake for a birthday, it was the dawn of a whole new creative business for the Swindon mum.

From this small seed, a thriving business has blossomed. Kimberley is now whipping up beautifully decorated, tasty celebration cakes and cupcakes – with neither dairy nor eggs in the ingredients list.

She is working hard to keep up with demand and swiftly sold all 400 cupcakes at the first Swindon Vegan Fest, held recently at the Victoria pub.

“I was asked to do a vegan cake for a friend’s 40th, and I really enjoyed making it,” she said. “The cake came out really well and I thought maybe I should do it as a business. At first, I wasn’t too confident and started making them just for friends and family, but then I did my health and hygiene certificate, got insurance, and in April this year, I launched V-licious.”

Kimberley, 34, has been passionate about animals for as long as she can remember and became a vegan out of concern for animal rights.

She was born in Swindon and grew up in Park North in an animal-loving home that was always full of rescue animals. As a child, being a vegetarian brought her some traumatic bullying.

“The other kids called me Veggieburger,” she said. “I was a very sensitive child and some of the others used to kill frogs in front of me, and throw meat at me. Being vegetarian was not as mainstream then.”

Kimberley was also a keen dancer and gained a BTec in dance at New College before working as a performer at Haven Holidays, Butlins and Warners in her late teens and early 20s. She was the choreographer of in-house shows by the time she finished.

Kimberley also worked for the Swindon Advertiser for a while, but continued training at Swindon Dance, mainly in jazz, but also learning tap, ballet and hip hop. She became dance teacher and a care worker.

Early this year she also trained with Darcey Bussell, learning how to teach dance and aerobics.

“These days I run V-licious, do care work, I’m a dance teacher and I run the Swindon and Wiltshire Vegan Group – as well as being a mum, of course,” she said.

Her move from vegetarian to vegan five years ago was prompted by reading a book called Skinny Bitch, by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin.

“It explains what happens in the egg and dairy industry,” Kimberley said. “I also watched the film Earthlings. Then I started making changes in my diet.”

Kimberley was a vegan through her pregnancy too.

“I had great iron levels all through the pregnancy, I kept dancing, and was very active, and I had a very healthy baby. We are bringing him up vegan too. I’ve done my research on what we should eat. I breast-fed him till he was 16 months and he started eating solid foods at six months.”

Son Hadley is now four – and Kimberley said her friends were generally very supportive of her vegan lifestyle.

“My friends accept it and see I am very healthy, and that my son is too. Occasionally I read some silly comment, but people get very defensive. I try to think that people just haven’t made the connection yet about animal welfare, because that would mean they have to make a change.”

She makes her sponge cakes without eggs or dairy products, instead using baking soda, cider vinegar, soya milk and vegetable oil.

“I tried different recipes, then altered them, but it is an on-going process,” she said.

Now she makes cakes of different shapes and sizes, with a variety of flavours such as vanilla, chocolate, lemon, coconut and almond. She has made Halloween cupcakes, Piñata cakes (which have sweets inside), rainbow cakes and special designs on commission.

“I do try to make a design my own. If someone brings me a photo of a cake someone else has made, I will adapt it to make it more original,” she said.

The cakes are decorated with fondant icing, and she is developing her skills with ganache, to create the drip effect.

Demand is increasing, as more people embrace the vegan diet but do not want to miss out on tasty treats.

“Last week I made four cakes. Generally, I make a couple a week. They take a couple of days to make,” she said.

“I’ll give most designs a go – the drip cakes look pretty, and I did a Harry Potter cake, which was fun.”

Most people collect their celebration cakes and cupcakes from Kimberley, but she does some deliveries too.

Her partner, Mike Phelps, is also making moves towards a vegan diet.

“He’s on his way,” Kimberley said. “He’s a vegan at home, but he’s doing it for health reasons. He goes to the gym and says his energy levels have improved. But he’s made that choice for himself.”

Kimberley has a Facebook page called Vliciousbakes and can be contacted on 07738 361474.