How I Created My First Business — A Cupcake Brain, LLC!
I am an entrepreneur thru and thru. And for my entire life, I have always had an “entrepreneurial spirit”. What I mean by this is….I have always had the kind of drive, motivation and overall focus of that of a leader, self-starter, or organizer. In grade school and high school, I was always very active in extra-curricular activities and when I got to college, the activities that I took heavily part in turned into leadership roles (see: section editor of the newspaper, Vice President of Committee Affairs for the Minority Student Association, Entrepreneurship Panel Lead for Diversity of S.I.F.E. (Students In Free Enterprise) organization, and interning as Store Manager for Avon). With all of this under my belt as otherwise unpaid or credit-only credentials, it’s no surprise that entrepreneurship seems to fit me best. And though I have done a few independent consultant type things in Avon and Pure Romance years ago, true entrepreneurship and building my businesses from the ground up with regards to name, legalization, price pointing and setting and all things in between from marketing, media, and sales, is something that excites me! I love it!
The story of how I created my very first real business, A Cupcake Brain, LLC is quite a funny one and I love sharing it.
In 2011, I was dealing with a separation period from an abusive ex (separation because I had eventually went back, smh) and it had been a few weeks since we had spoken. I was upset and a bit depressed and I was watching one of my favorite shows – Food Network’s Cupcake Wars on marathon. At this time, the show didn’t run a lot of marathons as they did the other shows but this particular night, there was a marathon and I was thoroughly here for it. While watching it, I remember tweeting to my maybe 200 followers at the time and said, “I should be on Cupcake Wars”. I was just tweeting and there was no real intent behind anything that I was saying at the time. I went on with, “…but if I were to ever get on the show, I would need three cupcake types”. I started imagining what cupcakes I would create if I were to get on the show and later, I tweeted the cupcake types. Quite a few people saw my tweets and they completely missed that I was talking about my make-believe cupcakes for Cupcake Wars, and within minutes, I was met with, “you bake? Do you ship? How much? What about a dozen?”
At first, I would say, “I do bake, but I am just tweeting about if I were to go on Cupcake Wars…” However, the entire night and actually into the next day, people kept asking about my cupcakes, if I shipped, how much I would charge for shipping, what flavors I had, and etc. It was unreal. Eventually, I put on my thinking cap and by the end of that first night, I decided, “well………I guess I do bake for everyone! And thus, the beginnings of A Cupcake Brain started to form.
That Friday, I had a party to go to that evening and instead of going, I stayed inside, thought of a name – I really liked the idea behind being a mastermind, a brain, a creative brain, a genius, a leader, a—A CUPCAKE BRAIN just clicked—it was unique and not found anywhere online or in stores. I bought the domain, and stayed up for hours with marketing concepts that could be built around the name. I came up with creative names for my cupcake sizes – Pea Brain for mini cupcakes, Average Brain for standard sized cupcakes, and Einstein Brains for my muffin sized cupcake options. Later down the line, I would pull out my line of cupcake jars, which made shipping my cupcakes easier and way more hassle free and I called them BrainJars with the thinking of an evil genius scientist that stores actual brains in large scientific jars. It was all coming together and I was very excited. I did trial and error with shipping for a couple of weeks, made tweaks over time and then rolled out the BrainJars, which made my shipping loads and loads simpler. I was happy and pretty impressed with myself.
Although I owned the acupcakebrain.com domain from the very beginning, I started the site on tumblr first to see how successful I would get with this seemingly overnight business. Over time, I finally decided to hire a designer and I had my first ecommerce site built and running. I was so proud of myself because this was a huge accomplishment for me. I oftentimes spent 10+ hours baking and peak times were always around the holidays where I would be confined to my home for a week at a time pushing out product. It was a whirlwind and at most, I handled over 75 orders in a week. How I did this with my regular job was simple. I worked in a gentleman’s club and I was 100% in charge of my entire schedule. I worked often but I always kept a balance.
The sudden success was a whirlwind for me. I went from maybe 200 followers to well over 1000 followers within a year. I shipped all over the United States and the Virgin Islands. My line of goodies included cupcakes, cake jars, brownies, and blondies. I developed seasonal and staple items. I have an extensive background in media, so using this, I was able to ascertain the power in media branding early on and I quickly became known as “the cupcake girl” and part of “Baker Twitter”. I did interviews for several different blogs. I was so incredibly busy and I loved every minute of it.
Big BrainJars in Strawberry Shortcake (summer seasonal item)
In the early days of A Cupcake Brain, since I had never planned to create such a business, I made several business mistakes. I made mistakes in customer service, food handling, food photography, and shipping. My business rooted on twitter. And with that, I made mistakes in image with “baker beef” and dealt with scrutiny from people that didn’t believe that I could bake simply because I am slim (which never made sense to me). I became depressed and ultimately, I shut my business down after a year.
After the first year of business, I decided to fine tune on my business knowledge, studying in another field for a year, focusing more on media relations as it pertains marketing in all major facets, and brought acupcakebrain back in 2014. I rebranded, recentered my focus to my local market, and tackled my Chicago market head on, linking myself with events, causes, and specific organizations in order to establish a footprint for A Cupcake Brain in Chicago.
rebranded logo, designed in 2014 by House of Battles
A Cupcake Brain, LLC is now over 5 years old and though it is more of a side-job for me now, it is still a major part of my brand. I am proud of the journey that I underwent with A Cupcake Brain because I learned a lot about myself, my customers, and my overall goals in entrepreneurship. I love what I do and I am proud of what I have accomplished!
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