Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Melanie Wideman, CEO, and owner of A Little Slice of Heaven Bakery, located in Decatur, GA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
A Little Slice of Heaven Bakery is a retail bakery located in Decatur, Georgia, and specializes in custom cakes, pound cakes, dessert-style cakes, and confections. Our customers are those who enjoy from-scratch baked goods. Our cakes and desserts are not just intended for a special occasion or event, but also for daily desserts or simply fulfilling a sweet tooth. Our retail selections include cake slices, cobbler, cookies, and other sweet treats that are sure to please. We also have an e-commerce site where we ship our full-size and mini-pound cakes across the nation.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Melanie Wideman, and I am the master cake artist that creates custom cakes for my bakery. I make custom cakes to celebrate any occasion, from high-end weddings and retirement parties to graduation celebrations and birthday parties. I can craft anything from popular animated favorites to jewelry and cigar boxes for adults. If you can imagine it, I can create it. My love for baking started as a young girl as I would help my mother in the kitchen. She would bake from scratch pound cakes and pies and let me help. I made my first cake at the age of 16. Although my life initially led to an engineering career, my true passion didn’t stay hidden for long. With the support of my husband, I left my engineering career of 18 years to turn my love of cake making into a full-time business. Today, I am a graduate of the Wilton School of Cake Decorating. I have completed courses led by the famed sugar and cake artists Nicholas Lodge, Mike McCarey, and Lauren Kitchens. My own professional repertoire now includes an extensive variety of design, decorating, and modeling techniques. I prove cake after cake that I am operating in my gift and passion. My daily motivation is the joy I see in my customer’s eyes when they describe how happy they were with one of my cake creations or how eating one of our baked goods reminded them of their childhood memories with their loved ones. That feeling is indescribable.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Like most bakers, I started my business from my home kitchen. While that worked fine at first, my business was taken more seriously when I moved to a shared commercial kitchen. My biggest accomplishment was opening my storefront bakery location. A close second was when I was invited to film for a cake show on the Food Network. The cake show was Winner Cake All and premiered in February 2019. Even though I never had any desire to be on television, by doing so I was able to expand the reach of my business.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things that come from being a business owner was transitioning from a solopreneur to opening my storefront and leading a team. My engineering background didn't prepare me to be a business owner or hire and motivate staff. It was difficult to transition from doing everything to delegating and trusting my staff with cake orders. It is hard to let those responsibilities go, but if you want your business to grow, it is necessary.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Make sure you are passionate about the business you want to start. You can't just like it; you must love it.
- Hire professionals to create your logo, website, and branding standards. It will give your business a polished and more professional look. I remember when I first started my business. I look back at my original logo and business cards, which I created myself, and shake my head in shame. I am so glad my husband convinced me to hire professionals to create my branding.
- Make sure your product is consistent. It is important to make sure that your products can be replicated by any of your staff. If you are away from your business or your staff changes, your product needs to remain the same.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
When owning a business, make sure you have enough capital. A lot of companies don't survive when an emergency arises because they don't have enough capital at their disposal. When COVID 19 first appeared, we had to shut down our business for over a month. During that time, we still had to pay for rent, utilities, and insurance. Since we had enough capital and savings, we were still able to cover those expenses despite not generating any revenue. It is also necessary to be flexible when being a business owner. There are times you will have to pivot to grow your business. At one point, my business was only focused on custom and dessert-style cakes. In 2018 we added an online component to our business with our pound cake line. To date, we have shipped our cakes to close to 40 states and Afghanistan. If we hadn't added that option, we would have been stagnant since we would have only been able to serve our local community.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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