Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with James Cox, Co-Founder of Chicago Sugar Daddy Patisserie, located in Chicago, IL, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Chicago Sugar Daddy is your local Chicago neighborhood bakery that serves our locals and tourists, giving them a nostalgic feeling because of our classic old-school pastries and desserts.

Tell us about yourself

I have been a pastry chef for over 12 years and have always dreamed of opening my own bakery. We opened up Chicago Sugar Daddy in the middle of the pandemic, not knowing if we could make it through it, but we thought that if we could make it through the pandemic, then we could make it through anything else. Took us almost a whole year of sleepless nights and stressful days, including a mishap with our original landlord. On the other hand, Ryan grew up in the Philippines. Growing up, his family had a small garage bakery selling only one thing, PANDESAL, a classic Filipino bread roll. Managing a business is not easy, but whenever we feel like we are tired or close to giving up, we always tell ourselves how far we’ve come and why we’ve held on for so long. We don’t just call it a “bakery,” we call it our HOME.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Getting through our first year! Ask any business owner; that is the most stressful year aside from the second and third! Aside from that, turning customers into FRIENDS and FAMILY. People come in and leave with a smile on their faces; that is a big accomplishment for us every day.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Time and stress management. This is an overarching issue/challenge. Especially when you live nearby, you constantly procrastinate or STAY VERY LATE; having boundaries between your personal life and the business is very tough, especially during the first 3 years.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Always be open to constructive criticism and/or dialogue. The world has always been top to bottom approach when it comes to decision-making; try including your market when you decide. Ask for feedback, ask what they think could be better, and never be afraid of committing mistakes; you’re a human, not a robot.
  2. Operate in a way that is scalable. Yes, we know you want to do a lot, but write those ideas on paper. Ask yourself which is time-consuming and possible to be done efficiently and/or on time. If you have fewer staff, take that into consideration as well! Growth comes over time; start with something that you can handle.
  3. JUST DO IT. Perfect timing does not exist. You just need to do it. Either way, people will say something bad or good; you can’t please anyone. But make sure you have at least enough resources.

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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