Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food & beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Camille Kesler, Owner of Smallcakes North Druid Hills, located in Atlanta, GA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are a Cupcakery! We prepare 20 different cupcake flavors daily and bake them in small batches by hand every morning. We also make cookie sandwiches, ice cream sandwiches, and brownies and we make cakes in an advanced particular order.
Our customers come from all walks of life and many different parts of the City. Part of our customer base is walk-ins, but we also have a strong contingent of corporate customers and university-based businesses.
Tell us about yourself
I first began baking cupcakes when my oldest daughter was in Kindergarten. She has a severe peanut allergy, so she couldn't always have the snacks that other parents brought in. I didn't want her to feel left out, so I offered to bake nut-free cupcakes for the entire class so everyone would have the same thing.
Then, when my other two daughters started school, I found myself baking for all three of their classes for special occasions. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to move to the next step of owning a retail cupcake shop. I am motivated to keep doing what we do because I love making people smile! Our yummy cupcakes add a little bit of sweetness to someone's day!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a small business owner may surprise people. I get to have my daughters and my mom working with me. It's the neatest thing ever! I love my family so much, making it incredibly special to have them be a part of my business' success. I'm also proud that my company weathered the COVID pandemic and came through even stronger than before.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
There's no doubt about it... The hardest part of being a small business owner is that you are ultimately responsible for everything. It can be a lot of pressure, especially during these ongoing staffing issues. Every business owner I have spoken to struggles to recruit and retain quality staff. It spans every business sector, not just the service or retail industry. It is a constant struggle that no one seems to know the cause or the solution.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
My top three tips for anyone looking to start, run or grow a business today are:
- Do what you love! You might spend a lot more time at your business than you anticipate. But, if it's doing something you genuinely enjoy, you won't mind as much being there so frequently.
- Do what you know. So much goes into small business ownership. You have to become an expert in every facet of the business practically overnight. Selecting an area to specialize in that you are familiar with will make life so much easier because there's not a lot of time to research and learn. It's on-the-spot decision-making and learning from doing. So, do what you know!
- Do it with kindness. It's very easy to get frustrated. One time a customer purchased caramel crunch cupcakes from us during the summer and then left the cupcakes in her car while she got her nails done. The caramel was a hot mess when she returned to her car. She demanded new cupcakes, which we couldn't provide for free because we prepared the order right the first time. She left a terrible review, complete with photos of the melted caramel cupcakes with the caption 'look what they gave me,' knowing we didn't give her those cupcakes. I could have written a public response in anger, but I chose - and still choose - kindness. I believe our genuine customers know what kind of business we operate and hopefully disregard noise like that awful review. I know we're never going to please everyone; sometimes, people are in the wrong place and take it out on others. But, if we continue to give out kindness, we will eventually get it back.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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