Starting a Business Slowly
A few months ago my daughter was in full birthday campaign mode.
At the dinner table, “I want a Barbie cake!”
During family movie night, “I want a Barbie cake!”
On the way home from school, “I want a Barbie cake!”
You get the picture.
I’m sitting across the table from one of my clients and shared my cake drama with him. “You need to go see Abigail. She’s awesome!” Fast forward 4 months. We did get the cake from Abigail. It was awesome. It was one of those creations that looked almost too good to eat. Now I’m sitting across the table from Abigail talking with her about how she got started in her cake baking business.
“It was really slow at first”
Abigail attended pastry school at a community college and tried her hand at working in the baking business. “I landed an internship with a lady in Chicago for a while, and I really thought I was going to stay up there long term.” That arrangement turned out to be short-lived, and Abigail returned to North Carolina. She took a job with a freight broker to pay the bills. That was 3 years ago. Now Abigail has her own space where she pursues her baking passion as Abagail’s – A Cake Affair.
“It is still a bit of a shock to me. ‘Am I really getting to do this full-time?'”
Her path from the freight broker to the commercial kitchen was a slow and steady one, which is a good model for people who need to learn a business. When she started 3 years ago, she did birthday cakes, mainly, and then received orders for a few wedding cakes here and there. Her first year was modest, yet encouraging. On occasion she would bake cupcakes and take them around to local merchants to drum up word of mouth. It must have worked. Business grew steadily in her second year, and word spread about the quality of her work. In year 3 things got even busier.
“I finally got to a point this past January where I said, ‘I am taking the whole month off from baking!’ Then my little niece came to me asking for a Spider Man cake for her birthday. What are you going to say? I think my break lasted about 2 weeks.”
By the time March rolled around this year Abigail said that business lit up like nothing she had ever seen. Things picked up to a point where she was doing several cakes a week for weddings, birthdays and special occasions.
“By the beginning of June I had done as much business as I did in all of last year.”
I asked her where she found such success. “The only advertising that I do is word of mouth and Facebook.” Makes sense. I was referred to her by one of my business colleagues. Abigail brought up a good point. There is something magical about sharing pictures on Facebook. Her secret? One photo at a time. Don’t share pictures in groups. When people see a picture of a cake that looks good, or a cupcake that is too tantalizing, people want to share, and Facebook makes it so easy.
I asked Abigail how she handled the emotional roller coaster that often comes with starting a business.
“If things get hard I find that going out to run an errand really helps. I definitely need to get out of the house. And there’s always the gym…”
These mental breaks provide a bit of a reboot that allows Abigail to get her mind back into a good headspace.
A few days after I interviewed her I stopped in to see her new space. She had just moved in and was still getting accustomed to the feel. It is so good to see a business with a strong foundation that is poised for growth.
If you are in the market for a wedding cake, talk to Abigail.
If you want a mean cupcake, talk to Abigail.
If you need a Barbie cake, talk to Abigail.