It’s Sheryl from Cupcake Central. I haven’t personally written a post for a while but in light of International Women’s Day on 8th March, I’ve realised something pretty important.
This day is a day of celebration, celebrating the women in our lives, the ones that have raised us, the women before us that have paved the way and the women of the future. The heart of Cupcake Central has been built on our catchphrase “Hatch That Dream” because about 10 years ago I had just a dream to open up a cupcake bakery. If it weren’t for some incredible women that mentored me along the way, I don’t think I would have had the courage and belief in myself that I could do it. So I’m telling you my story today in hopes that whatever you might be going through in life, perhaps my story can inspire you to take a step forward and be courageous in what you want to pursue in life. It could be anything – from starting that new business, putting your hand up for a promotion, leading a new community project. Whatever your dream is… know that it is possible because there are many out there that have taken the risk and have lived their lives more authentically and passionately because of it.
Believe it or not, I am not a trained or qualified pastry chef – I taught myself how to bake from YouTube videos, dozens of cookbooks and with a lot of trial and error. In fact, I working in IT as a Business Analyst for a large global firm, for many years but deep down, I knew something was missing. I had this empty feeling I couldn’t shake, it was as though I had more to contribute to this world and each day I would go into work and daydream about baking and selling cupcakes for a living. When the GFC hit in 2009, I was left without a job, devastated and unsure of what the future would hold – I kept hearing this voice within me saying “Remember how you wanted to change the world when you were 8? I think you can do it by baking cupcakes”.
And so, with all the courage I had, I left the safety of a corporate job and registered my home kitchen to sell cupcakes online and at farmer’s markets. It was a tough and isolating journey at the start as I spent most of the days on my own, figuring out how to run a business that would be sustainable enough to put a roof over my head. It wasn’t long before something magical started to happen. Within the first couple months, I started getting orders from people I didn’t know. I started to get repeat customers and through word of mouth, I started to get more and more orders. The sacrifice of sleep and social life was all worth it when I got to see the faces of strangers light up with joy when they took a bite of my cupcakes. That empty feeling I felt was gone. I felt I was making a difference in this world, by putting smiles on faces with baked sugary treats.
So as things started to grow, in August 2010, my business partner (now ex-boyfriend – story for another time haha!) and I decided to open up our first Cupcake Central storefront in Hawthorn. We worked tirelessly 18 hours a day, 7 days a week for many years to make it work. With the most passionate and incredibly talented team of people – we have independently grown from 1 store to 5 stores across Melbourne. Building a business is not easy, trust me. There are many days that you don’t know whether you’ll make it through and times where you just want to give up. This is life. This is also why almost every entrepreneur insists that you need to be passionate about what you’re doing because that’s the only thing that will get you through the incredibly tough times.
We churn over 25,000 cupcakes a week now, we have a team of over 90 staff across our five stores – we put a lot of smiles on faces (we also ruin diets, but we can’t have good without the bad). But you know what? The thing that keeps me going is not the amount of cupcakes we sell at the end of the day. It is the notion that I had this burning desire to follow my dream and made it a reality – I mean think about it, it’s a pretty odd thing to dream about “cupcakes”, but we all have that thing that niggles at us. Each of us has a dream, no matter how small or big – there is a reason why we’ve been given this magnificent thing called life.
I always tell our team that we’re not in the business of selling cupcakes. We are in the business of giving an experience – from baking fresh instore with the best ingredients to going out of way to make sure that you are happy. It is our dream to continually serve and provide a wholesome and authentic experience with us. We take delight in seeing how we can light up someone’s day. Our culture is very much built on “the more you give, the more you receive”.
I am extremely grateful I now get to work with a dedicated team of people that know how to run this company better than I can. I get to choose what I want to work on within this company. So in the months of March and April, I’m excited to be back in the kitchen running Cupcake Baking and Decorating Masterclasses with my right hand baking man, Vinny (who’s more qualified that me at baking!). I hope you can join us, I’m more than happy to share my stories about business and baking disasters with you all. I will also have something quite exciting to announce in the upcoming weeks, I’ve been putting off the fact that we need to get a new cookbook out on our shelves (with good reason, trust me!) but stay tuned.
One last thing, some of you may know this but in 2016, I became the CEO of League of Extraordinary Women, an organisation I co-founded that empowers and connects female entrepreneurs globally. This is what I spend my days and nights on mostly as it makes me feel alive. On Saturday 11th March we ran our first women in tech conference, Run The World Tech-formation.
I would also love to hear from you – if you’ve had great experiences or terrible times with Cupcake Central, I want to know because it’s only through feedback can we continually improve to serve and put more smiles on faces.
Founder & Director | Cupcake Central