Its Been 2 Weeks Since I Opened Up Shop...details!

Business By bellaudreycakes Updated 10 May 2011 , 4:39am by mombabytiger

bellaudreycakes Posted 4 Apr 2011 , 2:23am
post #1 of 30

Ok so I hope I don't end up writing a story but I just wanted to share with everyone what its been like for me opening up my own store front cake shop. First of all let me say that the process itself was alot more than what I expected to begin with, the permits, health inspections, building inspections, electric work, plumbing, equipment, etc, was all time consuming....but nothing prepared me for what happened after I opened my little bakery in my small town.

Now I was expecting to do this all on my own, I would bake cakes and cupcakes, decorate, and sell them at my shop my hours are tuesday-friday 10-5 and sat 9-12. I have daily cupcakes, 8 flavors, and do custom cakes by order. I also am a hair dresser so I was going to continue doing that on wed evenings from 5-8. I also have a husband and 2 small children, 3 and 5.

Let me just say that since the day we opened I quickly discovered that no way was I going to be able to do this on my own. The first week my husband took off work to help and I still had to call my sister and best friend to help. We constantly have people in line going out the door and and we can hardly keep up the baking as fast as the cupcakes are going out. I remember the first day, I was in the back and we have a half wall that separates the kitchen so I can see people in the store but they can't see the kitchen, and the line was so long we were actually having to frost as they were being sold and at one point I was so tired and thought this is absolutely insane I just wanted to throw in the towel and walk out. Now I know this sounds like a really good problem to have, being so busy, but never have I imagined it to be like this in my little town.

I have since hired my sister and we have been hanging in just the two of us putting in at least 12 hour days to bake and clean and prepare for the next day and we still can barely keep up. Let me just say hiring people was really hard for me as these were my recipes and I didn't want to share them or teach people how to bake and decorate my cakes, sounds weird I know. But I am a control freak and after all these products have my name on them so if the swirl on top of the cupcake doesn't look good, I can't stand it. However I had no choice and I would rather hire someone I can trust then a stranger that could use my recipes and open their own shop. Moving on..

I cannot even explain how crazy the back kitchen is and how organized we need to get yet, but I have faith that eventually we will get a system down that we won't be so stressed. It has been two weeks and things have just gotten more busy, a good thing I know, but I have had to limit my cake orders as I am the only one that decorates them and I can't do 5 cakes a night, I have learned that the hard way.

I love my shop but I miss my family sooo much, my husband is so supportive and helps me anyway he can but it is so hard going from a part time hair dresser (8hrs/week) to working from 7am-7pm and then sometimes going back later that night to finish up cakes. I am not going to lie and say that everything is glamorous, because even though business is booming and so much better than I could ever expect, I miss those mornings cuddling with my little girls and picking them up from school everyday, listening to how their day went, the little things.

I have sunday and mondays off but not really have been up at the shop every day since we opened if its not baking its cleaning or getting orders ready for the week, being a business owner is alot of work and everyone keeps telling me things will get better they will slow down alittle (hopefully not to much) and things are getting slowly better we are getting a rhythm and I think it will all work out ok but I just wanted others to know that are thinking about opening a business, that hearing someone say its alot of work is a complete understatement. Don't get me wrong I wake up every morning and get excited to go to work but there are alot of things I have to give up as well, my friends being one, I never have time for them anymore.

I am hiring my sister in law who will start next week to help customers do boxes, which is another thing we have problems with, never have enough boxes done, and keeping up with dishes. I am hoping this will help us also. We recently had a ribbon cutting ceremony which was really cool and we were in alot of papers etc. The town is so excited we are there and business owners love that we are downtown because we have brought so much business to downtown, which is great.

It's like a roller coaster, alot of ups and downs but its been a good ride so far, I will keep you all updated as business continues...oh yea I had to quite doing hair, obviously had no time for that! Hope my story will help others understand a little bit what it's like at first opening a storefront! Happy Baking icon_smile.gif

29 replies
ajwonka Posted 4 Apr 2011 , 2:31am
post #2 of 30

Wow! Congrats on opening the store! Hang in there! You must have an incredible product!

LadyDi469 Posted 4 Apr 2011 , 2:37am
post #3 of 30

Thanks for posting. Wish you luck and rest. Hopefully the hectic part will be over soon and a rhythm will help you to stay home and enjoy family more. I can honestly say if I had my own store, I would be the same way...not want to share recipes, not want to put something out that didn't have my seal of approval. Keep us posted how your venture comes along.

ConfectionsCC Posted 4 Apr 2011 , 2:44am
post #4 of 30

WOW Congrats first off! That IS wonderful that you have the busy bakery, means you are doing something right! I too have a 3 and 5 year old, so my husband and I decided until they are both in school, we are doing a home bakery, then opening a store front in about 2 years, with that, I am hiring 2 people right off the bat because I am already so busy just doing cakes from home (avg 3-5 PER WEEKEND, a lot for a hobby baker!) I don't think anything can prepare you for how MUCH WORK it takes, and how it separates you from your family, but, the longer you are there, business will stay crazy, but I would think it will get more organized and become more steady. I will hire only my cousin for baking, I will remain as decorator, and I will hire someone else to help keep up the demand at the front with customers, phone, and to help clean up at the end of the day! Good luck, I am so jealous you are doing this icon_biggrin.gif

cakegirl1973 Posted 4 Apr 2011 , 2:54am
post #5 of 30

Congrats on your success! I wish you all the best as you continue your journey. As for protecting your recipes and guarding your business from future employees becoming your competition, I would see an attorney who could draft for you an agreement for every person that you hire to sign that would legally prohibit them from disclosing or using your recipes and that would prevent them from establishing their own baking business within a certain distance from your shop. It sounds like, if things keep as busy as they are, you will need to have more help. By having a legal agreement that your employees have to sign, you can hire the help that you need while protecting your business. Good luck to you! icon_smile.gif

cakegirl1973 Posted 4 Apr 2011 , 2:55am
post #6 of 30

Congrats on your success! I wish you all the best as you continue your journey. As for protecting your recipes and guarding your business from future employees becoming your competition, I would see an attorney who could draft for you an agreement for every person that you hire to sign that would legally prohibit them from disclosing or using your recipes and that would prevent them from establishing their own baking business within a certain distance from your shop. It sounds like, if things keep as busy as they are, you will need to have more help. By having a legal agreement that your employees have to sign, you can hire the help that you need while protecting your business. Good luck to you! icon_smile.gif

Tracey2528 Posted 4 Apr 2011 , 3:05am
post #7 of 30

This gives me so much hope! I too live in a small town - there's no bakery here, but I've had a lot of people tell me I should open up my own place. I just always figured it wouldn't survive in a small town. If you don't mind me asking, what are some of your general prices like?

scp1127 Posted 4 Apr 2011 , 3:15am
post #8 of 30

No compete agreements are illegal in most areas except for high tech industries and where substantial amounts of money are given to the employee in exchange for the no compete. They violate a law concerned with, "interfering with your right to work". I was the recipient of a lawsuit for this very situation.

There are things you can do to protect youself. You can bag part of your dry ingredients and label them. Just remember how much it cost you to start this business. Don't hire someone with the financial means to be your competitor. You can't stop an employee from working for your competition, but your technique and quality of equipment will set you apart. We share recipes here all day long, and many of mine have been tweaked from a recipe created by a pro baker who has written a book that anyone can own. I am 49 years old and have been scratch baking since I was a very little girl. I read baking science books for fun and study every day. Most competitors can't catch up to me even if they had my recipes. There is more to baking than flour and sugar. Your employee may know to "beat at med speed for 2 min", but she doesn't know why. A different mixer or a different oven will yeild different results. Cheap pans will cause the same recipe to be inferior. Be the best in your field and no one can catch you. Be great to your customers and create loyalty.

coldtropics Posted 4 Apr 2011 , 3:45am
post #9 of 30

i agree with scp. but i still wouldnt be handing out my recipies. yes, bag your dry ingredients... then add milk, cream, water, butter, oil, eggs, coffee, chocolate etc... at your direction. at any rate. congrats. business is serious!

cheatize Posted 4 Apr 2011 , 4:07am
post #10 of 30

Congrats! You must be exhausted!

I'm wondering if you have repeat customers, or have you been able to tell that yet? Are there customers coming in once or twice or even more times a week for a cupcake or is your foot traffic due to everyone coming in to check out the place? It may be too soon to tell, but it would be interesting information to know for those of us who are also in a small town.

I've been urged to open up a shop, but I don't think there would be enough foot traffic here. Most of the town leaves during the day to go to the larger cities to work and I don't think there's enough people left behind that would want baked goods so that I could cover my expenses.

cakegirl1973 Posted 4 Apr 2011 , 4:09am
post #11 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

No compete agreements are illegal in most areas except for high tech industries and where substantial amounts of money are given to the employee in exchange for the no compete. They violate a law concerned with, "interfering with your right to work". I was the recipient of a lawsuit for this very situation.




I think it would be worthwhile for you to talk with an attorney, since laws vary from state to state. Not every state is a "right to work" state. Even if you state does not validate non-compete agreements, you may be able to protect your recipes under your state's law.

sacakesandbakes Posted 4 Apr 2011 , 4:31am
post #12 of 30

Congratulations, that is so awesome. I hope your sucess will continue.

I use to tell my husband opening a shop was his dream not mine, but lately I have been thinking more and more of it. I know it will be a lot of work and money to start up. I live a in a big city so there will be lots of competition, so definately it will be about location, location, location. My husband is thinking that we would hire college students if we ever get to open one. We'll see how it all works out, maybe in the next couple of years.

I have a friend who owns a cookie shop here in town and a high school friend who owns a cupcake shop in another state. She was on cupcake wars (Sugar On Top). So I do have friends I can ask for guidance.

leily Posted 4 Apr 2011 , 4:45am
post #13 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakegirl1973

Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

No compete agreements are illegal in most areas except for high tech industries and where substantial amounts of money are given to the employee in exchange for the no compete. They violate a law concerned with, "interfering with your right to work". I was the recipient of a lawsuit for this very situation.



I think it would be worthwhile for you to talk with an attorney, since laws vary from state to state. Not every state is a "right to work" state. Even if you state does not validate non-compete agreements, you may be able to protect your recipes under your state's law.




I agree definitely talk to an attorney in your area (that is familiar with this type of thing... not just any attorney) I live in a "right to work" state and you can still have non-compete agreements. Granted there are quite a few things that have to be covered and they are only good for so many years and can only have a certain amount of miles depending on type of business and where you're located. (i've worked for two different companies that i had to sign them for, and they provided two very different type of products)

scp1127 Posted 4 Apr 2011 , 5:12am
post #14 of 30

I worked for a company that had their corporate lawyers come in to have me sign a no compete agreement. Later I found that they knew it was illegal, but it stopped everyone but me. They said that they may have had to pay me, but look at the hundreds of people that never questioned it and the money they saved by stopping those hundreds from going with a competitor.

You need to consult with an employment attorney, as most people believe that it is legal.

Interfering with your right to work is when someone restrains you illegally from working. That would be law anywhere. I was threatened with emergency injunctions to shut my new company down. They moved me to another state because they were afraid the judge wouldn't know the law and grant the injunction based on the no compete agreement. Once the new company's legal team was satisfied that the no compete was illegal, I was allowed back. This took three months. My settlement for making me sign, causing my new company to move me and uproot my kids for three months was $100,000. So don't think that just because a lawyer says it's ok,that it is so. If the lawyer is wrong, you will pay damages to the employee if an employment attorney gets wind of the situation. That's what happened to me. It was just gossip around town and the attorney called me to inform me of my rights.

LindaF144a Posted 4 Apr 2011 , 11:39am
post #15 of 30

You are probably too busy to read these messages! But I have to thank you for sharing your story. I am about a week away from signing my lease. You have helped me to recognize where I need to concentrate my attention. Because of my location I fear I will crazy busy out the gate, but you want time to adjust to your new lifestyle. It looks like you have to do both simultaneously.

Lot's of great advice from everybody else too. This is going to be an interesting time.

Good luck. If you have the time, please chime in here again from time to time. I would love to hear how your are progressing.

bellaudreycakes Posted 4 Apr 2011 , 1:00pm
post #16 of 30

sorry haven't got a chance to respond, I literally went to bed after I posted, haven't been getting to go to bed til at least midnight after I come home from the shop, I have to do things around the house and fold boxes lol. Anyways..I don't want to sound ungrateful for business being so good, I just want to explain to others some of the things I didn't think about.

I will try to answer some questions that I read, one being our prices we sell cupcakes for $1.50/ea or 6/$8 or 12/$15, they run about $2 in a big town about 45 minutes away. We have alot of repeat customers and my facebook page has blown up about how good our cupcakes are. I have heard from several that we are the talk of the town and have only heard great feedback so far. Last night I was laying in bed trying to sleep and thought of a plan that may help help my sister and I get more organized in the back, so we will try it out this week. We are starting with a cupcake of the month on Tuesday so I am excited about that however I just hope we can keep up. Also I want to say our customers are truly amazing as there were times they had to wait 15 mins for a cupcake and said no problem they are worth the wait, times we have run out of boxes and they said don't worry they will be gone before we get to the car. I am hoping we won't have situations like this again but I guess its better than the other way and not being busy at all.

Thanks for all the advice, I knew if anyone would have good advice for me it would be you all thumbs_up.gif Hope I have answered everyones questions, I will try to keep posting when I find time. Good luck to those starting out on their own venture!

Baker_Rose Posted 4 Apr 2011 , 2:44pm
post #17 of 30

If you are worried about your recipes, then hire really great front people and you can concentrate on the back and keeping the quality at your level. Test everyone for piping, so you have front people who can also drop cupcakes, bake cupcakes and finish them. Then you are doing the baking and your support team is selling, selling, selling.

I worked for a caterer who was ALWAYS going on about her "family" recipes. Be sure these recipes are truly yours before making a big deal. Her daughter went NUTS when another baker mentioned making a certain chocolate/cream cheese mini cupcake for her wedding. "But these are my FAMILIES recipes, you can NOT use them!!!!!!!" Well, needless to say her family has been using Betty Crocker, Better Homes & Gardens, Joy of Cooking for many years. I once did a search and found 90% of the recipes online. Other obscure recipes have been found in local "fund-raising" cookbooks from the past 30 years around here. There isn't one unique recipe in that bakery! But she still tells the press in interviews about her mother's "secret" recipes.

Tami

Congratulations and good luck!! icon_smile.gif

LaurenSprinkles Posted 8 Apr 2011 , 5:14pm
post #18 of 30

Wow! congrats & please please please hang in there! i am just 21 years old and already dream of opening my own cake shop! its reading stories from people like you that keep me motivated! lol thumbs_up.gif

RedLola Posted 10 Apr 2011 , 11:03pm
post #19 of 30

This is absolutely fantastic that you are doing so well, i live in a small town in wales in the UK and would love to open my own little bakery, reading a post like this makes me think it's truly possible icon_smile.gif Whats your facebook page? would love to be a member x

RedLola Posted 10 Apr 2011 , 11:04pm
post #20 of 30

This is absolutely fantastic that you are doing so well, i live in a small town in wales in the UK and would love to open my own little bakery, reading a post like this makes me think it's truly possible icon_smile.gif Whats your facebook page? would love to be a member x icon_biggrin.gif x

DebBTX Posted 11 Apr 2011 , 12:52pm
post #21 of 30

Congratulations on your new shop. I would love to see photos of your new place when you get some time. What an exciting and busy time in your life.

-Debbie B.

shaibaer Posted 11 Apr 2011 , 2:29pm
post #22 of 30

Instead of hiring someone to bake and decorate, could you hire someone to wash dishes, clean the kitchen and run the register? That would take pressure off of you, but still keep your recipes "safe".

You can't do it all without imploding. Delegate the crap jobs and concentrate on the baking/decorating!

KoryAK Posted 11 Apr 2011 , 5:28pm
post #23 of 30

If you are too busy, raise your prices - even just a bit. At least you will feel like it's a little more worth it on the $$ end. Try hiring out all the dumb work that you do not need to do (dishwasher, front counter). When I opened my shop (now 3 years old) I worked 7 days a week for the first year, 6 days for the second and third, and this year I have been able to take some 5 day weeks. We too ended up very disorganized in the beginning because there just wasn't time for it. It will all come, I promise icon_smile.gif

shaibaer Posted 11 Apr 2011 , 6:59pm
post #24 of 30

I agree with KoryAK. I also thought you were underpricing yourself. I would raise the price of the individual cupcakes to $1.75 if nothing else. Then I would do a Buy 5 get 1 free (so $8.75/6) and a Buy 10 get 2 free ( so $17.50/12) and so on.

What you lose in numbers you will maintain in $$. And you might get MORE customers, because people like the idea of "free", kwim?

Kaylani Posted 12 Apr 2011 , 1:01am
post #25 of 30

Congratulations!!! icon_biggrin.gif Where are you located? I would loveto be a FB fan!

tryingcake Posted 12 Apr 2011 , 1:15am
post #26 of 30

I am so happy for you. I've never had a bakery, but I have had a restaurant/bar - and yes, it owns you for quite awhile. I think I was home at most 6 hours a night and then back to work for the longest time.

But in the end it's all worth it.

As far as recipes go, I am also very hands on. After all, it's my recipes that afforded me to be able to think about my own place, right? So, I agree, protect what got you here... your recipes. Premix what you can. In High School I worked for KFC. Everything that could be came in prepackaged. I never knew the ingredients or at least not the correct amounts of each item. I had a bag of mix and then a recipe to follow for the wet ingredients.

Consider doing this.

bellaudreycakes Posted 12 Apr 2011 , 1:44am
post #27 of 30

wow! Thanks so much for all the responses! It has been better, I have hired another person, my sister in law to work the front, keep up with dishes, and she also decorates cakes so she is helping me in that manner, before she came along I was booking at least 3 weeks in advance and I remember in one day telling 5 people no, that sucked! So now we can do more cakes which is good! Things are becoming more organized in the back, we are finding our groove lol, but things are still busy which is wonderful! I really want to remember to take pictures of my shop tomorrow and show them to you, especially so you can see the before and after pics!

Thanks again for your feedback!

pixiefuncakes Posted 12 Apr 2011 , 1:57am
post #28 of 30

It is so wonderful to hear of your success, good for you!

CakeForte Posted 19 Apr 2011 , 5:56pm
post #29 of 30

Interns are your friends!

mombabytiger Posted 10 May 2011 , 4:39am
post #30 of 30

You have a choice. You can create your own business or you can create your own job. It sounds like you have done the latter. If you are going to manage a business, you cannot possibly do all the technical work and survive. You are going to have to trust other people and put them in place in different areas. What would happen if you were to get sick or even want to take a vacation? If you are the only person who can run things, you will never be free. You will just burn out.

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