Friday, March 11, 2011

Happy Second Blogiversary!!

Holy cannolis, can you believe that's been 2 years since I first started this little blog?  In the past year my number of followers has tripled and I have made some really good friends along the way!

Birthdays and anniversaries are good times for reflection. And since I have had more than a few people ask me how I got to where I am now, I will tell the tale of how Cup a Dee came to be!

Seven years ago I lived the corporate lifestyle.  I worked for a big retail chain as a regional visual director.  I was on the road constantly traveling to 50+ stores.  I made good money, but I was never home to enjoy it, or my house, my kitties, or my husband.

But I had been bitten by the cake bug!  Heck, I had always liked baking, but the more frustrated I became at my job, the more I baked on the weekends to relieve that stress.  It felt good, and people were always happy to see what I brought them on Monday mornings.

One fateful business trip to New York we visited the Magnolia bakeshop.  People were lined out the door to buy cupcakes for $3 a piece!  And you were limited to a dozen!!  Somewhere in the back of my mind, wheels began to slowly turn.  If they can do it, why can't I?

During this time I continued to do free cakes on the weekends, and I bought every Woman's World or other checkout isle magazine that had cakes on it.  Chad and I started taking Wilton classes at Michael's craft store.

And then we booked a trip to Cancun using my frequent flyer miles, and stayed at the Westin resort using my hotel points.  It was the off-season and the resort wasn't busy, and honestly, we were having a fabulous time just resting by the pool.  I'm a big fan of "self help" books and I used to buy them all the time hoping I would find the time to read them.  One of the books I grabbed for this trip?  The Practical Dreamer's Handbook by Paul and Sara Evans.  I sat by the pool all week, sipping pina coladas and reading that book.  And it changed me (the book, not the drinks)!  I suddenly realized that there were others out there that had left the rat race for something simpler, something happier.  That week I gained a laser focus - I would someday be a baker.  I discussed it with Chad and we started a rough plan on how to make this dream happen.

Things at the corporate job got worse and worse, and now, since I knew something better was on the horizon, I was unwilling to put up with it.  I knew my simple happy life making cakes was just around the corner.  One day I came home after a horrible week at work and told Chad that I wanted to quit work and sell cakes.  The only problem: I didn't know how to sell cakes and I still wasn't great at it.  I considered culinary school, but we really didn't have the money for me to quit work AND spend tuition money.  As fate would have it, I found out about a pastry chef opening in Chattanooga.  The job was making cakes and pastries for 2 restaurants, a B&B, and a coffee shop.  It didn't pay much, but it would keep the bills paid.  I took the job and turned in my notice at my big girl job.

My 8 months in that pastry kitchen is what I now affectionately refer to as "pastry bootcamp".  I went in at 4am and I generally got home about 6pm each night.  Most weeks I worked 6 days, and it was a salaried position... so no overtime for me :(  But I was learning how to do things I never imagined, and best of all, I was learning the business aspects too.  I was also seeing mistakes they were making, and all the while taking notes on how I would run my own business someday.

Eight months later I finally felt I was ready so I began working with the local health department on what I needed to do to legally bake from my house.  The answer was building a separate addition on to my house.  We got a home equity loan and over the course of about 5 months made that happen..

I was now open, but where were all the customers?  I leveraged all my friends.  My friend Mark was a real-estate agent and he needed "Thank You" gift baskets for his clients.  So I made gift baskets with banana bread and cookies.  Another friend called to ask me if I could cater a luncheon at her office... sure I can!  If someone was hungry and had money, we could do business!

As I said when I started, that was almost 7 years ago.  I have continued to take classes and watch videos to hone my skills and now I exclusively do cakes from my little pink kitchen.  And I am happier than ever!

As I blow out these 2 tiny blogiversary candles, my wish is that everyone out there who hasn't already will find their dream and live it!

11 comments:

  1. Happy blogiversay!!!!!! x-{|] I'm pretty much in the same position at the moment as you were in a few years ago - and I'm just at the point where I've accumulated enough confidence to know that I can make it work. Thanks so much for sharing your story - it really gives me hope that my dream can come true, too :)

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  2. I loved reading your story! It is very inspirational! I hope to be able to do the same thing one day! I'm set on it :)

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  3. What an inspirational story Jenniffer! Isn't it wonderful to be a part of people's celebrations? Thanks for allowing us to be a part of yours!

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  4. Happy Blogiversary Jenniffer!!! Yo'ure an inspiration! Kudos!

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  5. Happy blogiversary to you! Thank you for sharing your story.

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  6. Yay Happy Blogiversary! I have just started my blog and my business so I hope that I can be as successful as you in years to come!

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  7. Happy Blogiversary to you and Chad!! I would love to do the exact same thing and you're such an inspiration! You're a rock star!!!!

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  8. Jennifer, you are truly, truly and inspiration to me. Your story is so powerful and inspiring. I wish you many more years of happiness making yummy cakes. I am about to add your name in my list of people that I admire in the cake world.
    Hugs

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  9. Happy Blogiversary! I'm pretty sure eveyone here is in agreement: you are an inspiration. I love to hear stories about how people followed their dreams and made them happen. It's easy to make your dreams come true if you come from a rich & powerful background (ex. Dylan Lauren of Dylan's Candy Bar... being Ralph Lauren's daughter certainly didn't hold her back!), but I find it much more motivating when an average Joe (no offense lol) gets their glory! It really makes me feel positive and, in the words of someone fabulous (wink wink) "If they can do it, why can't I?"

    Congrats again!

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  10. Congratulations to you! I loved reading your story! What an amazing journey! :)

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  11. OMG! I have some of the best friends a girl could ever hope to have! Thanks for all your comments; you have really made my week!!

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Thanks for visiting the blog! I look forward to reading your comments!

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