Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Maiya Lonesome, owner of The Fat Cat Cake Boutique, located in New Market, MD.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am the owner of a cake/sweets business. The majority of my clients request custom special event cakes but I do get requests for my chocolates both truffles and BYOB (Build Your Own Bar). Hot cocoa bombs were a huge hit last winter both locally and from other states. This year I introduced dessert tables onto my services which afforded guests the opportunity to have individual desserts while celebrating moments with those closest to them. In the time of COVID that flexibility to transition from large cakes to individual desserts was crucial. I am a one woman show so when potential clients reach out and want to request a cake, I'm the one that is answering their emails, calls, online contact forms, messages via messengers. Clients appreciate that personal one-on-one attention.
Tell us about yourself
I love saying how I fell in love with pastries. While growing up, the kitchen table was the meeting place for all social events. My mom, aunts and grandmother would always sit around the kitchen table to catch up with each other. I truly fell in love with the idea of being a chef from 8th grade home economics class. I came home one day from school and asked my mom if people actually made money cooking. When she said yes, I told her I was going to be a chef.
Every step educational wise after that was with the determination that I was going to be a chef. One of my first jobs as a teen was at a local grocery store bakery. I was too young to handle any knives to cut the cakes so they only let me ice them. Which I was terrible at! After about the 10 cake, I realized that the person next to me of the assembly line was going back and smoothing out my icing job. It didn't deter me or shake my confidence but it is a memory that I tell all of my students every semester when we get to cakes week.
What motivates me daily as a business owner is knowing that someone chose me to be a part of their day. It's not always a grandiose wedding cake. Sometimes it is a simple smash cake for their child's first birthday but regardless of the size the feeling of gratitude for being a part of a memory in someone else's life is always present and humbling.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
This past fall, I was contacted to make a cake for a 50th birthday that was being held at The Museum of Natural History in DC. Driving through DC during rush hour with a cake in my car was nerve-wracking but exhilarated to have the opportunity.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I had to learn the hard way that not everyone has good intentions when they place an order. More than once I had orders come through my online shop for purchases with fraudulent credit cards which I wasn't aware of until a complaint was filed and the CC company was seeking to get the money back. In the end I was out; my money, my time and my product. That has been one of the hardest things that I've had to deal with as a small business owner.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
1. Put everything in writing, get signatures and a deposit.
2. Be prepared that you are going to be exhausted all of the time.
3. When you have the ability to take a vacation, actually TAKE YOUR VACATION!
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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