Bitsy’s Emporium has been based at The Mill since 2020. Offering an epic selection of freshly baked cakes, delicious grilled cheese, pimped iced drinks and coffees, it has become a hugely popular go to spot for so many people.

With the news that the other residents of The Mill were moving out, Bitsy’s owner was left with a dilemma of moving or trying to breathe new life into The Mill. But new life comes with a price tag. With a vision for transforming the space and keeping her popular coffee shop where it began, a crowdfunder was launched to help meet the target for deposit and works.

We caught up with them to find out more about the plans for The Mill, Crowdfunder progress, and life at Bitsy’s.

Tell us about your vision for The Mill?

I would love to see the Mill become the ACTUAL Bitsy’s Emporium Of Awesome. Cafe-wise… I’m aiming for more colour, more trinkets and more comfortable seating. I’m hoping to use my vision to turn the space into a creative hub of independent Leicester businesses, a small art gallery for artists to be able to exhibit affordably and a usable space for workshops and community activities.  We are also looking to hold more events in the space and utilising it to its full potential.

Give us a little background on Bitsy’s and what saving the location of coffee shop means to you?

Bitsy’s literally started in my kitchen about 15 years ago. Starting off with rubbish cupcakes that I palmed off on my family, friends and colleagues. I practiced a lot. Then a colleague of mine asked me to make a tower of cupcakes for their wedding. That started a bit of a thing and then I quit my job like a maverick.  I made cakes to order for weddings and events for ages, hosted decorating workshops and I popped up like a mysterious legend at a bunch of markets.  I was very content. I built a nice following. But I never wanted a shop. Then came the pandemic. Weddings, events & markets all of a sudden dried up and I had no income. Luckily I’d built a website where I sold my workshop tickets and a few weeks before the pandemic made an appearance I had uploaded a few postable brownie trays just in case anyone wanted anything. I hadnt pushed them but they were there. When we were plunged into social darkness I posted about them and it KICKED OFF. Everyone was down for a postal treat. That was wicked. I just worked from my dark commercial kitchen on my own. Every day. My only outings were to the post office and doing local doorstep deliveries. Everything started to slow down business wise. I think everyone was starting to realise that Furlough pay wasn’t never ending, loads of people were selling stuff online to treat yourself to and people seemed to be becoming a lot less scared of leaving the house and more fed up. Randomly I got a call from an old friend who said they had a cafe space in their building and did I want it. I was a bit like “oh my christ” but I didnt really have time to think. I was self employed and only income apart from orders was my payment from HMRC, I didnt have a premises that was normally open to the public so didnt qualify for any grants. I either take the leap or… I’m up shit creek honestly. And boy did that pay off. The Emporium became a place where people literally brought up their babies. We saw out the remainder of the pandemic together, the re-openings, the lockdowns and take away only years, more re-openings. I met a whole world of new people and I think because of the time that we opened there was no where else to go. People were coming for coffee and a cake yes, but they were coming for company, for social interaction. Even if it was only for a few mins while they made their order. The power of a smiley face and a chat with someone after spending the day locked indoors was something else. There were constant queues. We didnt particularly rush people. But that was part of the charm. People didnt want to be rushed. We became part of people’s days not just a faceless coffee. I kinda dont like to look back the pandemic fondly because the whole situation was pretty shit. But for me I thought I saw a different side of people.  But actually, I am really happy to say, that’s just everyone that comes here. I honestly think it’s just a ray of sunshine. Even on my shit days its nice.

You smashed the initial fundraising target almost overnight. With people still able to donate to the stretch amount, what will this extra money go towards?

Yes we had a target of £5,000.00 which is what we would need to put down the deposit for the new lease. Incredibly, thanks to everyones utter generosity, we smashed that literally overnight. We also set a stretch target of £10,000.00. I was nervous to ask anyone to help with the £5k in the first place and I can have a bit of a problem with self doubt so I didnt think we would maybe even reach the stretch target. But because we did… All the further money will go towards the building. The other tenants leaving will be taking out their stuff and there will be needs for redecorating and a few fixes of things that need it. Its an old Mill and it needs some TLC. Also to move forward with our plan for the space for other indie businesses we will need to build in some spaces that people can sell from. We would love to improve our seating areas so we have some more cozy zones so to have some extra to be able to purchase some second hand sofas and other furniture would be great.  Also adding these areas for other businesses to affordably rent will go towards helping us pay our rent which will obviously increase now we will be taking on the entire building so to be able to have a little bit of a cushion while we get cracking with all the work is a big relief.

Tell us about the rewards that people can receive for donating?

I was just going to do a crowdfunder where people just donate. But I also wanted to give an opportunity for rewards as I thought it would be nice to give back with some unique prizes. All of the rewards are things that I wouldnt normally offer so as not to be something you can generally get your hands on at the moment. I feel that this adds to feeling that all our customers and donators are so special to us. For example one reward was to have your name painted on the wall of fame. This is all sold out. But for a little more we will put your photo (of whoever! you, you and your dog, your football team you manage) on the wall in a frame year book style with a quote. And then at the other end of the scale we offer free coffee memberships, party/event hire and also take out coffee cup sponsorship for companies/brands.

What’s your biggest inspiration with Bitsy’s?

I take a lot of my inspo from America. I have a bunch of friends I call my family there and spent a few years of my life in Upstate New York and Miami. Big portions, amazing grilled cheeses, BIG cakes, comfort food really. A bit different than what you generally see around. I also take inspo from myself decor wise because I am ridiculous. A childhood friend of mine came in and was like Oh shit. It’s exactly the same as your bedroom when you were a kid. You are welcome. Also…  Everything is baked from scratch onsite, which I’m not sure everyone knows, and I think is very few and far between in coffee shops. Especially in Leicester. Its a hell of a lot of work but I am very proud of that fact.

What’s your favourite cake/bake you have ever made?

My tiramisu cake is amazing. My Chonks. Which basically are stupid squares of layered things. Rocky Roads that have more things stuffed in them than is natural. Oh and my lemon drizzle cheesecake. Hello.

When will work start on your new vision for The Mill?

We have to sort all the paperwork ends out but I believe the lease should come into play in July.  We will be staying open throughout as another point of staying put was not being able to afford to have a period of no income. There may be some times where some areas are closed off to the public but we will be open our regular hours fingers crossed!!! I would love to get cracking as soon as I can because I am super excited for my vision.

How can people find out more and donate?

Find the crowdfunder at or seach Bitsys cafe on the crowdfunder site. We have an email for anyone that has any questions or input or ideas [email protected] and my social media can all be found with the username @bitsysemporium. Instagram is where I post more regularly. Please share our cause BUT OVERALL. Keep coming to the shop. Spending money with us allows us to continue to operate at the core for as long as we possibly can!

Bitsy’s Emporium is located at The Mill, near Frog Island, LE3.