Along with cake and coffee, my kids, and a certain Austrian guy I’m crazy about, entrepreneurship is one of my favorite things in this world. As an Aquarius - we’re the crazy social ones with lots of ideas and a desire to change the world, in case you didn’t know – I find it magical that out of an idea, a concrete thing – be it a service, a product, a new food, etc. – can be created and generate income. Awesome, isn’t it? I think so.
My very first experience with entrepreneurship was at a Dallas, Texas gun show at age six. Yes, you read that correctly. My dad and I had made an overload of gingerbread cookies (the ones mentioned here) for Easter, so we decided to pack them up and take them to the local gun show and try to sell them. Can you get more Southern than selling something at a gun show in Texas? Doubtful. But we did take those cookies to that show, set them out on a platter, and sold every last one of them. It didn’t take long.
That, my friends, is when the magic of business hit me. It was an early, clear lesson that if you create something good that people want, package it nicely, slap a price tag on it and make it available, people will pay you for that thing. For chubby six-year-old me, the little girl who lived for sweets and hunted for loose change in Coke machines and pay phones – the fact that you could do something fun (make cookies!) and then sell them (making money!) was amazing.
Let’s fast-forward to adulthood, when after extensive travel, a few odd jobs, and the occasional stint in college, I found myself married with a baby and ready to make my dreams of being a business owner reality. I started a catering company in the gorgeous, massive 1920s yellow house where my little family and I lived in and called it, appropriately - The Yellow House Catering Company. We hosted catered events in the first floor of the house, and lived upstairs. Hard work, but somewhat charming and fun, and living and working in the same home was generally enjoyable, especially as a parent.
The grand plan behind The Yellow House was to start with catering, build up the business the point where I could open up a café, and then expand to different places, dotting its way across the Atlantic and ending up with at least one location on or near the beach in Barcelona. Yes, that was the plan. And as you may have guessed, it did’t work out that way. After about two and a half years of catering for the local community, hosting everything from ladies’ bridge luncheons (deep South!), to corporate Christmas parties and weddings, one day my (then-) husband asked me if I wanted to spend the rest of my life “selling brownies and lasagna to Dublinites” (aka, the locals). The question hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks, and I had to ask myself if that was what I wanted. It was not.
As much as I loved making people happy with food and supporting my family with it, it was clear that my little small-town catering business was not going to turn into a chain of cafés that would get me to the life on the Med I was dreaming of. So after being jerked back into reality by the brownies and lasagna question, I decided to shut down the business and put the café dream on hold. My ex went back to work and I went back to college. In the end, my degree and a job got me much closer to the Mediterranean, than my littler catering company in Georgia could have.
- Fast-forwarding again a few years to the present. I still have a day job (one that I love, but that’s a story for another day), but there is still that desire in me to create and build a business of my own. I work in online marketing doing recruiting for tech companies here in Berlin and elsewhere. I seem to be good at it, I enjoy it, and it’s paying the bills, so I am happy with it and don’t plan to make a change any time soon. But deep down, my heart still beats to drum of a creator/dreamer/business builder.
Which brings me to Cupcake Dating, my singles business I am creating and hoping to build. This is most definitely what you would call a passion project, as it combines a few of the things that I really enjoy – meeting and connecting people, nice events, fun, and – cupcakes. It’s an idea I’d thought about for ages and finally decided to start growing slowly – at the moment we host little singles events – I call them “mixers” at nice, intimate venues – giving people who are looking for other singles to potentially date a place to do so. And yes, we do serve cupcakes – or at least some sort of cake – at all events. Because as Julia Child said, “A party without cake is just a meeting.” She was right!
Let’s see where this business goes. Of course I have plans to scale and make Cupcake Dating Events available in the larger western European and US cities, but I am not pinning all future hopes on it. I’ve got a lot going on so this only gets attention on the sidelines of life, but I hope that regular effort and events will eventually pay off. In the meantime, I’m happy to once again no longer be just an employee. I’m a creator at heart and am happiest when putting energy into bringing my visions to life. And with Cupcake, it’s a vision of bringing great people together to build relationships, because I’m convinced that life is sweeter shared.