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Facing Adversity, Embracing Success with Jennie Gibson

Jennie Gibson lives in Jacksonville, FL and sells custom-decorated cake pops with her cottage food business, The Cake Pop Shop.

Jennie already shared some advice on Episode 50, but in this episode, she shares her own incredible cottage food journey.

Simply put, Jennie has one of the most successful home-based cake pop businesses in the entire country!

But her journey started with humble (and unlikely) beginnings, including a bad car accident that left her permanently disabled, and a special needs son that gave her the dose of inspiration that she needed.

However, through hard work and persistence, Jennie has overcome many challenges and built up her cake pop empire over time.

In just over a decade, she has:

  • Landed many large orders of over 1,000 cake pops each
  • Created cake pops for many major organizations, including the NFL & Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Sold elaborate cake pops for $180 per dozen
  • Accrued over 40,000 followers on Instagram

It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s definitely been rewarding. In this episode, you’ll hear about what keeps Jennie going, and what’s she’s learned along the way!

The Dynamic Donut Duo with Amie Anderson & Jamie Krake

Amie Anderson & Jamie Krake live in Ypsilanti, MI and sell donuts (and other fun creations) with their cottage food business, It’s A Good Day Donuts.

Amie & Jamie planned to run a campground cafe in the summer of 2020, but the pandemic threw a huge wrench into their plans. “It was a disaster”, says Amie.

But during that effort they started making donuts, and people loved them! They sold them from home using Michigan’s cottage food law, and they haven’t looked back since.

Although they’ve sold thousands of donuts with their business so far, making money isn’t their primary goal.

Rather, their mission is to spread joy, not just to their local community, but within their family as well. Their business has been a source of fun during some very challenging times. “Donuts saved my life”, says Jamie.

Do Whatever It Takes with Whitney Singletary

Most people would have given up by now. But Whitney Singletary will do whatever it takes to turn her vision into a reality, no matter what stands in her way!

Whitney lives in Berkeley, CA and sells nut-flavored cookies with her cottage food business, Nuttin’ Butter Cookies.

While other bakeries avoid nuts due to allergen concerns, Whitney has done the opposite by focusing on customers who love nuts! Her cookies are very unique and feature 14 different types of nuts.

Whitney started by selling at events in her area, but she really grew her business once she started selling from her driveway five days a week.

She became so successful that she moved into a storefront in 2019, only to have the pandemic force her back into her driveway a few months later!

Despite facing many obstacles along the way, Whitney has persisted to prove to her two kids that a single mom can follow her dreams and run a successful bakery!

Mom By Day, Baker By Night with Daniela Zographos

Daniela Zographos lives in Anderson, SC and sells custom-decorated and custom-sculpted cake pops with her cottage food business, Yumsies Cake Pops.

But Daniela hasn’t always made cake pops. In fact, when she started her business in 2013, she had never made a cake pop in her life!

Daniela used to run a typical home bakery, selling custom cakes, custom cookies, etc etc. But now, Daniela ONLY sells cake pops. That’s it.

She simplified her business model to make it easier to be a stay-at-home mom, but niching down to just cake pops had a surprise side-benefit: it made her business more successful!

She now has a thriving business with 3k Instagram followers. And because she has full-time mom duties during the day, she does most of her baking at night after her kids go to bed.

Daniela shares a ton of info in this episode. She shares the surprising way she found customers when she moved to a new area, the surprising way she makes her cake pops, the surprising way she offers pickup outside of her home, and the surprising way she gets almost all of her ingredients for free!

And if all that weren’t surprising enough, she also managed to start development of her city’s first shared commercial kitchen space. How she finds the time to do it all, we will never know!

Family, Freedom, & Pie with Kourtney Rojas

In 2011, Kourtney had romantic ideas about starting a pie business and selling at the local farmers market. But life (jobs, family, kids, etc) got in the way and it wasn’t until 2019 that her dream became reality.

Kourtney Rojas lives in Anaheim, CA and sells fruit pies, chess pies, and other pastries with her cottage food business, With Love, From Scratch.

After 8 years of selling pies sporadically to family and friends, she finally decided to turn her pie hobby into a real business. She entered a pie contest, started posting high-quality photos on Instagram, and she’s never looked back!

After only two years, she has amassed over 3,000 followers on Instagram, and she now sells over 100 pies per week!

As a stay-at-home mom, she has learned how to say “no” and turn down opportunities that aren’t a good fit for her.

Having a home business has given Kourtney the freedom to adapt her work life to her family, not the other way around. But she’s also not afraid to admit that finding the right balance between the two is often a struggle.

Although her business journey has required flexibility, patience, and constant learning, Kourtney explains why it has unfolded in exactly the right way.

The Self-Taught Supermom with April Spencer

Running a successful custom cake business is a lot of work. Running a popular Etsy shop is also a lot of work. And taking care of young kids full-time is definitely a lot of work.

Meet April Spencer, who has managed to do all three AT THE SAME TIME!

April is a cake decorator and sugar artist who lives in Harrod, OH and sells impressive custom cakes and lollipops with her cottage food business, Spencer’s Sugar Shop.

In addition to running a very successful custom cake business from home, April also rented a commercial kitchen to sell her custom lollipops on Etsy and ship them across the nation. She’s currently put the Etsy business on pause due to the mass influx of weddings recently, but at one point she was shipping out over 30 custom lollipop orders per week!

As if running two businesses and a young family weren’t enough, April also manages to put a strong focus on her social media presence, and she now has thousands of social media followers.

How does she do it all? Nobody knows for sure, but listen in and learn how she went from knowing NOTHING about cake decorating to becoming one of the most popular bakers in her area in just a few short years.

From Sugar Geek to Online Influencer with Liz Marek – Part 2

With over 300,000 followers, Liz Marek has become very well-known in the cake decorating community! She lives in Beaverton, OR and teaches beginner and advanced bakers how to craft amazing custom-decorated cakes through her online business, The Sugar Geek Show.

Liz began her cake decorating business as a side job just 13 years ago. After running that business from her licensed home kitchen for many years, she started winning cake competitions and making more of a name for herself.

Liz has written books, appeared on television and the Food Network many times, and traveled around the world as a professional speaker. She is a mom to two young children, and she now focuses solely on teaching online through The Sugar Geek Show.

In this interview, Liz shares plenty of helpful tidbits about running a cake business, but what I found most compelling were her many missteps and consistent persistence along the way. Things often didn’t go the way she hoped or planned, but she still made something great out of it by constantly reinventing herself!

This is Part 2 of Liz’s interview. In this episode, Liz shares beginner tips for starting a cake business, what it was like to compete on (and win) Halloween Wars on the Food Network, and more about how the Sugar Geek Show has grown (and where it’s going).

From Sugar Geek to Online Influencer with Liz Marek – Part 1

With over 300,000 followers, Liz Marek has become very well-known in the cake decorating community! She lives in Beaverton, OR and teaches beginner and advanced bakers how to craft amazing custom-decorated cakes through her online business, The Sugar Geek Show.

Liz began her cake decorating business as a side job just 13 years ago. After running that business from her licensed home kitchen for many years, she started winning cake competitions and making more of a name for herself.

Liz has written books, appeared on television and the Food Network many times, and traveled around the world as a professional speaker. She is a mom to two young children, and she now focuses solely on teaching online through The Sugar Geek Show.

In this interview, Liz shares plenty of helpful tidbits about running a cake business, but what I found most compelling were her many missteps and consistent persistence along the way. Things often didn’t go the way she hoped or planned, but she still made something great out of it by constantly reinventing herself!

In fact, by the end of this episode, you will learn that if things had gone the way that she planned, she almost certainly wouldn’t be where she is today.

Dads Can Cake Too with Jeremy Davis

Jeremy Davis is no ordinary dad! On top of working a full-time job and helping his kids with their homework, activities, etc, he runs his lucrative custom cake business, Designed By Daddy, from his home in Charlotte, MI.

But that’s not all. Last year, Jeremy went from being a longtime fan of Food Network competitions to actually participating in one, and then winning it! Then he appeared on Good Morning America, and now he will be back on the Food Network in a couple weeks (March 1st, 2021) for another baking contest.

Unlike most people, marketing his business was the easy part. The hard part was learning how to bake and decorate cakes, since his wife did “all the cooking” in their family, and he considered his former self a “horrible artist”.

If you want to learn how to build a strong social media presence, you won’t want to miss this one. Jeremy breaks down Instagram’s algorithm, and also describes how he used local Facebook groups to build a following quickly.

In addition to sharing an effective social media strategy and giving us a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to be on the Food Network, Jeremy talked about cake pricing, dealing with customers, and why he thinks men usually don’t decorate cakes!