Tuesday, December 21, 2010

So now that I'm living the dream...what's next?

It's almost Christmas and boy am I looking forward to it. Working 7 days a week (with some half days off now though) is exhausting and I've heard too many "You look tired" than I can bear. I've realised that when you have to wake up at 4am to bake, every minute of sleep counts so this means that putting on make-up is not a priority which probably leads to all the "You look tired" aka "You look like shite" comments.

So this Christmas will be extra rewarding as we'll have 2 weeks off, this means time to regenerate, become even more inspired, read up on some great books and plan for the future of Cupcake Central. There's a point in the business' life when it will start to feel like it's stagnating and things start to become routine. According to Tony Robbins "You're either growing or dying...there's no in between", with that in mind I started to feel as though the business, although it was steady was not growing in leaps and bounds. I'm a self taught business owner, learning from the mistakes of my parent's deceased businesses, advice from successful business owners, my own research through the internet and books and observing other highly successful businesses. There is only so much you're able to teach yourself.

- Gorgeous cupcake toppers for COACH stores in Melbourne for their VIP night -

So where to next? A month ago I was on Facebook (I'm a slight addict but social media was where my business ultimately started to flourish) and I came across an advertisement for The Young Entrepreneur Unconvention run by The Entourage. Normally I'm not susceptible to cheesy Internet ads but something drew me towards it and I clicked on it. It was exactly what I needed! Some inspiration from other entrepreneurs who had become successful doing what they wanted! I could only attend the event after lunchtime as I had to bake in the morning and I had managed to drag Tin along also. We were fortunate enough to listen to Andrew Morello (the 23 year old who won the Australian version of The Apprentice) and he was fantastic. Such enthusiasm, passion and a great hilarious personality. It was completely contagious. With a huge personality like that, no wonder he won The Apprentice. I just still can't believe how young he is! It made me realise that you're never too young to start chasing your dreams & success.

- Handpainted cherry blossom branches and cherry blossom petals made from fondant -

Another speaker at the Unconvention whom was incredibly inspiring was Creel Price. I was particularly inspired by his vision of what entrepreneurs were about because although my dream owning my cupcake bakery was what I started off with, I wasn't sure what else I really wanted by having this business. Creel mentioned that "Entrepreneurs are going to lead the way with changing the world and making a real difference". I've always wanted to make a difference to this world, to contribute positively to our society. It occurred to me that the reason why I'm so passionate about cupcakes is nothing to do with the the cupcake itself but what it represents 'happiness'. It brings such happiness and fun to people's faces. The amount of lovely comments I receive day in and day out about what I create makes me feel fulfilled.

But I want to do more... and sometimes it is about the money. The reason why entrepreneurs and business owners need to be so focused on money is because without it, your venture will ultimately fail. Even the charities and NFP organisations rely on funding because without it, it would be extremely difficult to create a lasting effect. My view on physical money has changed entirely since we opened our store. Jack Delosa, from The Entourage, put it quite well, 'With more money, you're able to have more influence to do good in this world'. Although I would probably love a Chanel bag as any other girl, material things don't interest me as much anymore which is weird in some ways. My focus has changed to investing the money I have to create more wealth to hopefully one day live the life I want to help inspire other women in business and also make a notable positive contribution to society.

I realised that Cupcake Central is just a stepping stone to creating a Company that is not only limited to cupcakes, but to other retail ventures. I want to create a story that shows that with determination, anything is possible, especially for women. When it comes to successful business owners, women only make up a small percentage but it's starting to grow and I believe that there is so much more potential for new businesswomen if they are given the support. A lovely customer the other day mentioned to me that I should get nominated for the Telstra Business Women's Award (he was on the panel of judges), it has secretly been a dream of mine since I was 20 and was so excited at the thought but I don't think I am ready yet. So my journey continues to create a story that will one day be inspiring.

- Our little box of Christmas babycakes. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! -

I hope everyone has the BEST Christmas EVER and an even more exciting 2011.
Love you all!

- Holly Red Velvet Babycakes -

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Living the dream and more

Our cupcake display is a specially designed glass cabinet that minimises airflow to make sure that cupcakes don't dry out. I actually dreamt about how this would look for at least 3 years. I still can't believe how it's turned out more perfect than what I envisioned.

We're onto our ninth week of trading and it feels like it has just flown by, yet at the same time I feel like I've been doing this for a lot longer. It doesn't really make sense but I feel as though my sense of time is a little warped, it's most likely because every waking minute (and even in my dreams) I am consumed with my cupcake store. The last two months have been amazing, the highs, the lows and the learning curves. There's so much I want to share and I have no idea where to start.

When it has quietened down and there's a few spare seats upstairs, I normally sit in the top right corner typing away and responding to emails, orders and preparing for the next day. I love that corner. Plus, I get to sneakily hear what my customers reactions are when they eat cupcakes and drink our coffee =)

Every moment that I am working, even though I may be far beyond tired, stressed out or frustrated, I love every moment of it. I finally have that fire lit again, that driving force that makes me want to achieve more and grow. I haven't really felt like this since I was 19 and started working in the IT industry...and even though I started my online business last year, I was doing it on my own from home so I never felt like it was a truly a real company as I got to make up my own hours and slack off whenever I wanted. Now, I have others relying on me to run this company properly, to grow this business, to take great care of my customers. I can't slack off at all because as soon as I do, there are repercussions. Each mistake I make is crucial for me to learn the lesson so I don't make it again. I have to learn the skills of being able to manage people and a team of people. I need to learn how to manage my stress levels and not become overly frustrated. I need to mitigate problems and solve them quickly especially when we have 10 orders to put out in a day, 2 weddings to cater for and also be able to cater for all the customers that come into our shop.

I always knew running a business wouldn't be easy but it's hard to prepare for it until you have your own business. But one thing I am grateful I did do when I was younger was to get experience working in different businesses and companies to understand how as an employee, we should be treated. All those horrible and pleasant experiences I've had, has given me that understanding and point of view that I need to exercise as a business owner and 'boss'. I'm so grateful that I have found some very talented, fun, extremely hard-working and honest staff that are working with us. I want to make our workplace a fun environment to work in and make sure that everyone that does great work is appreciated and fairly rewarded. I believe that most people don't work just for monetary rewards, it is about being appreciated, being able to learn and grow, a sense of achievement and contribution to the business. Would you rather earn a lot of money at a job you hate or work at a job that makes you entirely happy?

Enough biz talk, lets get to some photos. It seems to be Wedding season as it starts to (slowly) warm up in Melbourne, so here are a few Weddings we've created in the past month or so. Which one is your favourite?

Super Mario Bros. Cupcake Wedding Tower. Super unique and super awesome idea. I was so hesitant creating this for a wedding as I wanted it to look stunning, simple and not too... tacky. Dave & Kathy (bride & groom) were thrilled with it and everyone that has seen it has given so many compliments so I'm so glad it turned out well.

Rowena & Chris' Wedding Cupcake Tower at a gorgeous venue, Gum Gully Farm, that had a rustic farmhouse barn. One of the best parts of wedding orders is when I get to setup the towers even though it can sometimes take hours but I get to visit stunning venues and be able to take photos of the end result after all that hard work.

One of the most intricate wedding cupcake towers I've created to date. All the cupcakes were custom designed, some with intricate cherry blossom designs and others with flowers and hearts. Brendan & Elisa have been a pleasure to deal with and I'm so grateful I had the opportunity to work with their wedding tower as they had such creative ideas which in return allowed me to create this for them. The flower arrangement I created on the spur of the moment as the table turned out to be quite large and I wanted to make it stand out.

Thank you to all the lovely couples I've had the opportunity to work with to create something unique on their special day! If you're newly engaged and are looking for wedding cupcake towers, please feel free to contact me to arrange an appointment and have a complimentary cupcake tasting and to discuss your ideas - www.cupcakecentral.com.au

Back to work now but I won't be complaining. I still have to pinch myself sometimes to make sure I'm not dreaming this up because I am really living the dream. I'm excited about tomorrow..all the time, I'm excited about the future and I'm always dreaming big because I know that it can happen. I know a lot of you wonder if this could be you and I'm telling you now that it CAN. You can make up all the excuses up in your head of how it can't work but what if you started thinking about all the ways to make it work? There were so many odds against me when I started on this journey and really the only person that can make your own dream come true, is you. I know this all sounds corny and out of a Tony Robbins book but sometimes repetition is good. Keep doing it until you get good at it, stay positive and have complete belief in yourself.

Also I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before in my previous posts but on my vision board in my bedroom was this picture of Magnolia Bakery that was from a Cleo magazine many years ago. I believe my vision board works, most of the things I've pinned up there has come true...well except the Jessica Alba body but hey I'm working on that one right now. I'm going to have a butt like hers soon and I'll blog about it because I want to prove that I can defy the odds and achieve it - even when working at a cupcake store and eating so many cupcakes a day!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Welcome to Cupcake Central's first storefront!

Hi Everyone! May I introduce you to our first Cupcake Central storefront located Shop 7/672 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn VIC, Australia!

Yes, I know I've been MIA for a while here and I did promise I would do my best to update you all during the process of opening up the shop. And I thought about it many times, to update my blog but I honestly have been too exhausted. To give you an insight on my typical day for the last 3 weeks - I wake up at 4am (sleep in till 5am on weekends) bake for about 8 hours, running around manically trying to serve if a rush period occurs, then clean up, then try to do orders online, as well as manage everything else such as custom orders, scheduling, stock ordering etc.

PHEW! Then I get home at about 9 or 10pm and sleep for about 5-6 hours and do it all again. It sounds crazy I know....but the thing about it all is...I LOVE IT. Yes, it does get extremely tiring but when I feel like I'm so exhausted that I can't do it anymore, I remind myself that I am truly living my dream.
Can you believe it was only a short year ago when I set out on my journey alone to bake cupcakes for a living?

And now here I am, in my own, my very own cupcake store! And...

It's turned out more fantastic that I could ever imagine it to be.

Not only do we have the most amazing custom cupcake display that is taller than I am.

But we have some pretty awesome cupcake packaging as well. Custom designed and made in Australia.

My brother, Will is a great Barista and makes a mean soy latte (Bonsoy of course!) His latte's at 6.30am keeps me baking away until almost Midday. We've also been so so lucky to have been able to hire a fantastic Pastry Chef, Andy. Without him, I'd truly be a wreck in the kitchen. Boyfriend's that know nothing about baking should stay out of the kitchen or else you'll likely turn in to Gordon Ramsay. Anyway you can check out Andy's fantastic work here: http://andyfantastic.tmweb.com.au/

And here is my partner, boyfriend and biggest supporter, Tin. He's the one who's encouraged me, believed in me and stood by me. A lot of credit goes out to him for our first storefront because he's the one who's managed the project along the way, designed the most intricate details of our store, put so much thought about how it should look and feel, researched endlessly on the coffee, managed the finances, fixed problems and so much more. Even though we may bicker from time to time and have pet peeves with each other, at the end of the day, together our strengths and weaknesses complement each other and we're able to achieve so much more than one person could ever manage. Together, we will be moving this Company that is Cupcake Central to many more exciting places.

We hope that we're able to meet each and every one of you, if we haven't yet. We would love for you to see how we were able to hatch this dream and for all those people that are thinking about pursuing your own passion and impossible dream, stop thinking and just go for it. There's no such thing as failure, only progress. When I first set out to go out and do this, I had no idea how I would do it, yet here I am now. The little steps along the way may feel like forever but if you just keep going, you will get there. Believe in it, and you can do now wrong.

Although I'm living the dream now, there are so many more things I have to learn. To run a profitable and successful business takes a lot more than just knowing how to bake a good cupcake. But that's the challenge I'm prepared to take on. For me, it's never been about becoming a millionaire that made me want to set forth on this entrepreneurial journey but more so the idea of doing something positive in the world. Everyday I'm able to put smiles on people's faces. And I hope to be able to put smiles on faces in other ways too in future, in more philanthropic ways.

Well, I hope you enjoyed taking a look at some of the photos. As we get more processes in place & staff in the shop, it'll give me some more 'me' time again and I will update you all with some more news.

Go on and hatch that dream!

Friday, July 30, 2010

"I--think--I--can, I--think--I--can" to "I thought I could, I thought I could."

A few weeks ago on a Friday night, I decided to organise a Taste Testing event for some of my VIP'ers to taste some of my new cupcake flavours. I mainly organised this for one reason, because I am lazy. Yes, I am too lazy to bake all these new flavours that I have floating around my head. This is because after all the baking I do during the week for my cupcake orders, during my downtime I would rather sleep, go on youtube, read blogs and basically procrastinate. So I thought this would be a good way to motivate me to getting all the new cupcake flavours created.

I initially only wanted a small gathering of about 10 people, including some of my best cupcake fans, then realised perhaps I need to get some more objective feedback from others that weren't cupcake lovers to see what they thought. About 40 people turned up on the night and the whole bar was filled with people that came for cupcakes. Even a few people I hadn't met in person and only through Twitter, Blogger and Facebook came along. It was awesome and... it was also a little hectic. I was not prepared enough to ensure everyone was catered to and the venue was also quite dark being it was a bar/lounge so it was hard for my guests to identify the cupcakes. I really wished I was better prepared and ran the event more smoothly by making it easier for everyone to taste test the cupcakes, instead of having 20 people crowded around a large communal table trying to get a taste test. [Note to self, make sure grand opening day and week is planned well in advance.]

So here are the new cupcake flavours. Instead of re-writing everything, I've cut and pasted my notes on each cupcake from my Flickr and Facebook page.

Tres Leches Cupcake (pronounced Trr-es Le-chay)

A three-milk cupcake that is sweet, sticky and served cold. It is soaked with evaporated milk, condensed milk and whole milk, topped with whipped thickened cream and cinnamon.

Personally, this was one of my favourite cupcakes as it brought me back to my childhood as mum used to bake egg heavy cakes and the condensed milk reminded me of all the Asian desserts she used to make with it. Quite a few people like this cupcake whereas some didn't quite understand how it was supposed to taste as it does have a soggy texture as it is 'basted' in the 3-milks to absorb all that milkiness. It can also be on the sweet side which is offset by the unsweetened whipped cream on top.

Cherry Pistachio Cupcake

Vanilla cake with black cherries and chopped pistachios through the cake, topped with black cherry and cherry brandied frosting with pistachio nuts sprinkled on top.

I love cherry, it is my favourite flavour in the whole wide world. I love fresh cherry flavours and artificial cherry flavours (sadly I LOVE the latter more). If I go on a trip to the U.S again I will buy everything and anything cherry candy flavoured. So I wanted to incorporate one of my favourite flavours with another flavour I have been wanting to use in my cupcake for a long time. So I thought, hey these two flavours could possibly work. And work it did!

This cupcake, along with Salted Caramel scored the highest points on the night. This is definitely on our menu!!

Hostess Cupcake

A chocolate cupcake filled with fresh whipped cream in the centre topped with dark belgian chocolate ganache with a signature Hostess squiggle.

A traditional hostess cupcake has a squiggle on the top, a few didn't like the design however the signature squiggle has a bit of a story. This didn't really win points with many people as it is a bit of a basic flavour.

Lemon Meringue Cupcake

Lemon cake filled with zingy homemade lemon curd, topped with soft meringue that has been slightly toasted.

Mixed reviews with this cupcake, some loved the super sour hit of the lemon curd and others didn't. The cake itself, I would've loved to make it fresh and more moist. Unfortunately I didn't have the time to bake all the cupcake flavours on the one day and this was baked 24 hrs prior and was drier that I would've liked.

Salted Caramel Cupcake

Dark Belgian Chocolate cupcake filled with homemade salted caramel topped with salted caramel frosting and sprinkled with pink sea salt flakes.

I'm more of a salty-foods person, if I really had to choose. It's bad I know, but I love salty salty foods - like olives, anchovies and capers. So I wanted to try mixing salty and sweet in a cupcake and salted caramel was a safer option to go than a bacon maple cupcake.

This went off the charts! Almost everyone I spoke to loved this cupcake and raved about it. I was really surprised and also happy as it was my first time making caramel and I did caramelise it a little bit more to give a slight bitterness to it...I loved it but not sure what others would think.

So this is definitely going on our menu.

Vegan Red Velvet Cupcake

A completely vegan cupcake meaning there is no dairy or egg used in this cupcake at all.

This was a little tricky to balance the cupcake and 'soy' taste. I, myself, can't tolerate too much dairy especially in my lattes so I often enjoy soy lattes. The soy I used wasn't particularly creamy and wished I had used Bonsoy instead. Not many people enjoyed this cupcake, especially if they're Red Velvet fans, as there is no cream cheese frosting on these. It was a vanilla frosting with soy milk.

However, I will still keep refining this recipe as this will definitely be added to our menu to cater for Vegans.

Chocolate Malt Cupcake

Dark chocolate and malt cupcake topped with malted vanilla frosting.

This scored quite averagely, perhaps due to the malt not being dissolved enough when I added it to the frosting. Not one of my favourites either, I didn't like the malted chocolate cupcake base recipe I used and probably needs more refinement.

All in all, it turned out to be a fantastic night with everyone providing us with fantastic critique and feedback that we will use to keep improving our cupcakes and business as a whole.

We also noted that not many people liked our re-branding and new logo but it was hard to explain how it would tie in with the design of our shop without having something to show them. We are really looking to do something different with our Cupcake bakery and set ourselves apart from the rest and even though it will be risky I think it's a risk we need to take to be able to show our own personality, uniqueness and in a way, pave the way to becoming a market leader rather than a market follower. I know I might sound a little precocious at times and perhaps a little over optimistic. I certainly don't mean to sound arrogant but I think for our goals to manifest, we need to have this sort of optimism and positive outlook to be able to even start achieving them. Sort of like the old childhood story of The Little Engine That Could. Hopefully one day I will be able to say "I thought I could, I thought I could".

Monday, July 5, 2010

Planning, Building and Everything in between

I cannot believe how quickly time is passing and although progress is being made, I feel we are still so so far from the end result of opening up a storefront. We are hoping to open in 6 weeks which sounds like a long time to get a shop built but there is much to do. Here are a couple photos of how our shop currently looks like... it's bare, empty and not very pretty.

Our shop will have 3 levels, yes 3 levels however it's more like a loft style shop rather than 3 proper levels. It's very unique and we fell in love with it the first time we saw the place.

A lot of time has been spent on the design and planning to ensure that we get everything right, remember that rule carpenters use "Measure twice, cut once"? It's a good rule to stick by if you don't want to make costly mistakes. We have been lucky enough to find an interior shopfitter designer and consultant to project manage our shop fitout. We actually got his contact through a few friends that recommended him and this is where we've found that our networking skills come in very handy. Most of the people we are currently working with on our project, such as Accountants, Interior Designers, Shopfitters have all come through word-of-mouth referrals from people we know running their own businesses, friends or colleagues. I have found that working with trusted referrals will give you the confidence you need that they will do the best job possible for you and also helps to develop a strong working relationship. It's a bit risky when you pick a name out of the YellowPages and hoping for the best - if you don't do your homework and trust the first person you come across they could potentially screw you over or even worsre waste your time!

So if you're looking to open up a shop one day, it's a good idea to start taking note when you meet people if you could possibly acquire their services in future. And it works both ways, you should also provide your details to them and let them know about your business or future business. I never leave the house without my business cards because more often than not, it's an opportunity for me to advertise my business. You'll find that a lot of people will find your business venture interesting and want to know more about it - if you are passionate about it enough! If you don't sell your business, then who will?

Mr.Cupcake is still amazed at how many orders and referrals I get simply through the means of the Internet as well. My (slight) addiction to Facebook, Twitter and Blogs is another way I advertise my business. And yes, there is a right and wrong way to use those means to advertise your business. Spamming does NOT work. But creating energy from informing people of what you're up to from time to time will help keep your business in their mind so when there is an opportunity for them to use your products or services, they will instantly remember you. I am no marketing expert but that's how it works for me anyhow.

A 60th Birthday Cupcake Tower on a cruise boat by the Yarra.
Flavours are Vanilla Vanilla and Chocolate Mint.

I also watched Office Space last night after not watching it for years and what an eye opener that was...in between the fits of laughter. I could remember going to work with lack of motivation, not really enjoying staring at the computer all day and daydreaming. What would you do if you had a million dollars? If I had a million dollars (which isn't all the much to live off these days) I would still want to run my cupcake business. Also ask yourself this... if you got laid off today, what would you do? I would highly recommend you all to take a break and watch this clip. I got teary watching it, because it is basically my story.

My younger brother got laid off a week ago and he's made a brave move and decided that he'll take part of our venture and be one of the shareholders of our Company. He's developed a passion for coffee over the years and will become Cupcake Central's dedicated Barista and I have faith that he will be an awesome Barista. As we're focusing on high quality of everything that is offered in our shop - our coffee will also need the care, knowledge, skill and dedication just like our cupcakes.

I also took a look at my blog followers today and I'm up to 49 followers (not sure how many follow via other RSS feeds too) but I'm so stunned that I have so many blog readers out there! A very warm welcome to my new blog readers, hopefully you'll find my upcoming posts interesting and useful.

Hopefully I can post up some photos of the progress of our shop soon, our designers have come up with something amazing, fresh and new to represent what our business will represent. There will be no pink frills, shabby chic, grandma cupcake shop here. It'll be a shop that even the guys will want to pop into to get their cupcake fix.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Is following your dream enough to make a business successful?

It's been a couple of weeks and I feel like an engine going full steam ahead. In between all the orders, I've been organising a lot of meetings, planning, brainstorming and reading. After all the excitement died down a little, reality settled in and hit me...this is a huge step I'm taking. This is no longer going to be just an online bake-at-home business. There is more risk involved and more specifically, financial risk. I'm not so naive as to think that a business will survive simply on my 'dream', a dream simply put will not bring your business into the green. This is reality and is going to require me to think like an entrepreneur.

So what is an entrepreneur exactly? Is it a person that comes up with ideas and is a risk taker? Or someone that goes against the odds and takes action? My latest favourite book is "The E-Myth Revisited" by Michael E. Gerber. I've had it for about two months now but it wasn't until last night that I started reading it properly and once I started it, I was consumed in the words. Everything applied to me, how I felt, how I envisioned the business would need to be run and it answered some of my questions. I finally put the book down at 2AM as I had an early morning cupcake delivery and I can't wait to finish it.

The "E-Myth", as quoted from the book, means "the entrepreneurial myth: the myth that most people who start small businesses are entrepreneurs" and "the fatal assumption that an individual who understands the technical work of a business can successfully run a business that does that technical work". Technical work in my business means 'baking cupcakes'. Yes I know how to bake a cupcake and from what I hear my customers say, I do it well. But becoming a successful business owner relies on a lot more than just the technical work, otherwise we would all be business owners.

I know that I cannot bake cupcakes forever if I want the business to grow. My dream has grown as my business has grown. I want to run a successful business. My favourite quote from the book thus far is "The purpose of going into business is to get free of a job so you can create jobs for other people". When I read that line, a bell inside of me went "ding!". Sure I do have a passion for baking, but after baking 1000 cupcakes at a time, even your passion can't make you keep wanting to bake. I have never been a person that is a fan of tedious, monotonous tasks. What keeps me going is the opportunity to better myself, to learn, to grow. It's probably why I kept changing jobs every 16 months in my previous career. For me to feel alive, I had to feel like I was learning and creating new experiences for myself.

So back to the question, what is an entrepreneur? It's probably a loaded question that can be likened to "What is love?" There are many interpretations of it so everyone's answer will differ. What I do know is that I have the entrepreneurial personality as I dream, I wonder, I live in the future and I see opportunities and have taken some action. But wait... don't get me wrong. Being a entrepreneur does not automatically mean that you're successfully in running a business or company.

There are things I know I can do extremely well and there are things I completely know I suck at. When it comes to figures, dollar signs, budgeting...let's just say that I'm not completely enthusiastic about it. In fact, I loathe it. My brain likes to turn to mush when it comes to getting all the figures correct and analysing numbers. I mean, I could probably do it, if I put my mind to it, but I just don't like it. Well that's where I've been fortunate for my business partner (and boyfriend). Yes I know what you're thinking.. however! We do complement each other very well and where my skills fall short, I have found that he's quite strong in. We both have been able to create amazing ideas together and although up until this stage I was able to build most of the business up on my own, the next step is where I have needed to put up my hand and yell "I need help!" and that's where my prince cupcake charming has come in. There is no way I could do this on my own. It's just not possible for me to be able to oversee every aspect of this project. So I am so grateful that I have someone by my side that also shares the same vision, passion and beliefs.

As I've said before, I blog to express my thoughts, feelings and experiences. Some of it may sound like rubbish to you and some may assist in giving you a different perspective. I just want to stress that I am not a business guru, I am just a beginner and my blogging is to hopefully give people an insight to how I have got to where I am now..simply by starting with an idea, a dream. There is no doubt going to be many mistakes I will make along the way but each mistake is going to make me grow.

So that's all from me now. I'll keep you all posted as things start to progress. At the moment we're still in the design phase so there's not much to see in the shop but I'll start putting up photos soon enough.


Monday, May 31, 2010

A new chapter for Cupcake Central begins...

It seems to be a bit of a trend to me to write up blog entries after midnight. Perhaps this is the time I feel most inspired to write and also not be interrupted whilst in my train of thought. I have some news to share with you all. I know I don't get many comments on my blog but I do get emails from readers who follow my blog who are going through a similar situation, so I know there are readers out there! And in a way I feel as though you know me, a part of me anyway and so I'm sharing the news here with you.

The next chapter of Cupcake Central has begun. We have found our storefront and we made an offer on the premise to lease the shop and it has been officially approved by the owner today. I feel a little bit nervous, excited, numb and it all does feel a little surreal. I was a little hesitant to let people know at first because it's sort of like... for example, someone's told you that you've 'pretty much' got the job but haven't had that final confirmation yet but you want to tell the whole world so you jump the gun. Then when they get back to you and say that they've found someone more suitable you get extremely disappointed because you had your hopes up and you feel embarrassed because you have already told everyone. I didn't want that to happen to me. But it has been confirmed and the news has finally sunk in and yes, this is going to happen. My dream of owning my cupcake shop is unfolding. Holy....cupcakes!

I have had a lot of support from loved ones, friends and family over the last 9 months and I really could not have done it without them. Sounds very cliche but now I truly understand that meaning. You can put all your effort into building your dream by yourself but with the help of others, you get there a lot faster and for me, I seriously could not have achieved what I have in the past year without them. I feel very very fortunate.

Two weeks ago was a year from when I was made redundant from my IT profession. I was reflecting on that day, how much my life has changed. My life changed because I did something about it and took the risk, however much I am hard on myself for not being more proactive and being less of a procrastinator...I guess I did take that leap which took a lot of guts. Six months of uncertainty, lack of financial security and working on my own. It sure wasn't easy.

I know the next 6 to 12 months are going to be the toughest, I can already foresee the sleepless nights, the stress, Murphy's Law unraveling and many learning curves. But I can also imagine the accomplishments I will be feeling, the lessons I will be learning, the little imprint I will be making with my cupcake shop. It's going to be something different. It's not going to be an ordinary cupcake shop.

I will try to continue to keep updating my blog so I can document the next chapter of my journey. Time to sleep as I need to wake up at 6am to bake. Also one other comment is for all the aspiring bakers out there, make sure that you have a deep, real, fired up passion for baking as it will require lots of physical labour as well as early morning starts. If you don't have that passion, it will be ALL that much harder to drag your perky butt out of bed in the mornings. Just a warning.

Love you all. xo

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What do you choose to do?

It's 3am and I'm restless, unable to sleep...fuelled by my excitement of what lies ahead. (Not to mention I had a very late afternoon nap which has now stuffed up my body clock) Nevertheless, I could probably fall asleep again but I'm too excited.

As some of you may already know, I love my self-help books. Sometimes I read them cover to cover and re-read them. Sometimes it takes me a little longer to get through them. Sometimes I actually apply what I've learnt, other times it excites me for a week and I forget about it. Interestingly though I think sometimes when you learn something from a book, it lies dormant inside you...waiting for the right time to jump out so you can finally understand how to use it, how to apply it, how to make it work in your life.
My boyfriend finally finished renovating his investment house so we had a huge bbq to celebrate. I decided to create a Dessert Table to give the house a bit of warmth as it was an empty house. I created a dessert table with cheesecake brownies, coconut lime truffles, passionfruit yoyo's (made by Marcelle), triple chocolate cupcakes, carrot cupcakes and red velvet cupcakes. No one wanted to touch the dessert table as they thought it looked too pretty but once someone started, the desserts disappeared quite quickly.

A couple of weeks ago I took short break to go up to Sydney for a few days. I've been so consumed with the daily duties of running a business I decided I needed some time to evaluate what I've achieved so far and what my next steps are going to be. On the trip I started reading "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey". It's one of those books you always see on the best sellers shelf at Borders. I've always been meaning to buy the book but never got around to it. I saw it on my friend's bedside table and asked to borrow it. It gave me a different perspective to how to keep myself motivated.


I remember the very first job I had. I was a support desk person at a small company creating recruitment software. I was so enthusiastic and had a lot of free reign when it came to creating new support processes, documents and so forth. I believed that I had the ability to make a difference to the small company and the results showed. I was proactive. I did things that were not asked of me. I sought solutions to issues before they arose. I fixed things efficiently and properly so they would not occur again. Yet as the year went by I slowly lost this drive, this proactivity. Admittedly, I was still quite naive when I started at my first job and had a high level of emotional dependence. I was too soft and when I was criticised, I did not know how to handle it. It tore me down, it hurt me deep and I let it dwindle my sense of being. To this day, I still remember how the MD sat me in a room and hurt me by saying that "I had the potential to be good". I didn't understand because I had felt I had given the company so much yet didn't have the recognition I wanted so badly. I ran to the toilets and cried for 3 hours. Why it affected me so badly at the time, still puzzles me. But I resigned a week later and went to a competitor.

Notice how I scatter images throughout my post to keep non-readers partially entertained?

That fire I once had, I haven't felt for a very long time. But like a wheel in motion, it takes a little bit of effort to get it moving before you go blasting ahead, unable to stop. The motion is starting. How?

I realised that in life, we can choose to do something. I mean think about it. Do you choose to get up at 7am to go to work? Or do you have to wake up at 7am to go to work? There's a big difference!

My fear of failing is slowly fading as every day I am getting new enforcements that I am doing something right and when I do fail I just try again. So with that being said there is really nothing stopping me anymore. Everyday when I wake up, I tell myself that it's because I choose to. I choose to do what I'm doing. I choose to take risks. I choose to focus on what I can change. Far too long I have been too reactive. It takes someone with initiative to live their dreams. People don't just get lucky, you have to make it happen.

So today, my one question to you is..What do you choose to do?

If you don't feel like you are choosing to do much in your life, you can change it. Excuses such as "If only I had the time to do it" can be changed to "I can make time to do it". Blame such as "If only he was more caring towards me, we would have a better relationship" can be changed to "How can I be more patient and loving?". Even if you don't feel like taking this in today, bury it in your head so that one day it can make sense. It's one of those things that you're aware of but until you really experience it and want to understand it, it's hard to comprehend it's power.

A reactive person allows the weather to affect them. A proactive one accepts the weather (rain, hail or shine) and focuses on what they can change and create within themselves.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What's your story?

Having a story behind your business and what you do, distinguishes you from the other businesses out there. It allows your customers and those who meet you, to create a connection with you. No one really wants to hear that you go into business purely for the dosh and to make as much of it as you can (however true it may be). People want to hear the heart and soul of how you started up, how you pursued your dream and why. Well I do anyway.

When I meet truly amazing successful people, I always ask about how they started, I'm always curious to know their story. I love reading auto-biographies of people I admire and their stories inspire me, it makes me want to dream big just like they did.

Some of the people that I've found to be inspiring through reading stories about them, their books, through interviews etc are.. Richard Branson, Tony Robbins, Janine Allis, Steve Jobs, Lady Gaga (yes I love how she expresses how she feels through her music and fashion), Soichiro Honda, Oprah and the list goes on. Who are the people you find inspiring? What stories have you heard that have changed you and or have inspired you? But more importantly what's your story? I want to know.

"The Wedding Story" for J&J
A unique custom wedding cupcake order where the couple decided on a wedding story theme where each cupcake had a different wedding cupcake topper to tell the story of their special day.

All cupcake toppers were handmade with fondant.

I've recently had several wonderful customers call up or email to compliment me on my cupcakes & website and also to add that they really love the story behind my business. When people mention that to me, I'm a little surprised as I didn't think customers would really take the time to read through The Story on my website. I've been so lucky with the number of emails, messages and even meeting strangers that have heard about my business, how I started up and how they admired me for doing what I'm doing. Anyhow I know I always like to bring this point up, but it's because I am so so grateful for the support and encouragement I receive, without it I would be moving nowhere. We also tipped over 500 fans on our Facebook Fan Page which I'm very excited about. I am seriously considering to have some sort of cocktail/cupcake party when it reaches 1000 fans for all to attend but hopefully there will be some good news down the track where a bigger party will be planned.

So onto other things I have been up to. I've been fortunate to meet Cecylia in the last few months whom is such a gorgeous person inside and out, if you've met her, you will understand what I mean. She's recently just opened up her boutique Cecyclia and with a bit of a similar story with a different twist, she's a blogger, has a profound passion for clothing, her profession is a Veterinarian but has recently gone to pursue her dream and opened up a fashion boutique. I have never met anyone else so passionate about clothing and fashion, she can tell you everything and anything about the labels that she stocks and is always so proud of each individual piece in her boutique. She tells the story behind each label, where the designer is from, how they started, what inspired them to create the season's trend. It's hard not to fall in love with each piece once you know the story behind it. She also stocks several designer labels that are not currently stocked in Australia. Here are a few photos of her beautiful boutique from her blog:

Cecylia also stocks our cupcakes in her High Tea area which is an area where you can relax, have some tea & cupcakes in between your shopping.

Cecylia is located at 1113 High St Armadale and more details can be found at www.cecylia.com.au

Just one last thing, I want to thank the support of my dear bloggies Khrissa, Mizzmai, Clare, Trang and Lynh. They have been so wonderful spreading word about my business and been more than supportive. Love you girls! x

Alice in Wonderland Cupcakes for Trang, MIZZMAI & Lynh as they had a Alice dress up tea party.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Being busy is a good thing...

It's been over a month since my last post and so many things have happened I don't even know where to start. So here goes.

The L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival has come and gone, we had been preparing for the HUSSY VIP event for a while, coming up with some customised babycakes for their VIP guests. The client was extremely happy with the results and the customers & guests loved the cupcakes!

How exciting that our logo was printed on their VIP invites! I know it might seem like much but I get excited over little things like this. I feel like it's an absolute privilege to be able to represent an Aussie clothing label with your product.

These babycakes took a while to create as they had to be handcrafted and customised. But the effort was well worth it.

When I was coming up with ideas for customised HUSSY cupcakes, I took to their Autumn "The Killing Moon" collection for inspiration and colour theme. It was just perfect when the cupcakes matched the top on display in their centre table.

HUSSY has been around for quite a few years now, I still have a few pieces from their earlier collections when they first started. They have come so far and have definitely created their own signature style. Their pieces are edgy yet feminine and if you walk into their store you can instantly feel what their style is. They don't always follow the latest trend and change their style, they integrate the latest trend to suit their style.

I feel that whether it be fashion, music, dance, food or cupcakes - when you create something and have your own signature style, you create something that represents a part of your soul. When you start listening to others and deviating from what is true to you, you lose that magic and people can see and feel that. So to an extent what I do with my work, is still part of me. There have been opportunities that I've had to turn down because it doesn't fall in line with my 'big picture'. It may bring financial rewards quickly but in the long run it will be a detriment to your business image.

Also, just another note, a lot of what I express on my blog are my own opinions, there is no right or wrong. Everyone is free to have their own views on how things work, I'm not here to judge others or criticise - I am merely here expressing how I feel, think and work. And I'm grateful that I even have readers that are interested in what I have to write.

We also created some custom Leona Edmiston babycakes for their VIP functions at Melbourne Central, Chadstone Shopping Centre and Collins St. It was such a privilege as Leona Edmiston herself ate one of our cupcakes! It makes me excited that I've created a cupcake for an amazing Australian female designer.

I'm not sure if I've touched on this topic before but I'm very supportive of female entrepreneurs, business women and independent women. I wouldn't say that I am a feminist as such but I do appreciate all the inspiring women out there leading the way for women in our generation to grow, flourish and create an impact on our world. I was fortunate enough to be able to take part of the Third Sector Women's Networking Lunch on March 16 2010 where there were almost 250 women at the lunch celebrating International Women's Day. For those that aren't aware of the term "Third Sector", it is the Voluntary or more well known as the Not For Profit sector of our economy.

I ended up donating about 200 babycakes for the event, not for marketing purposes but I felt that this was a good opportunity to understand, learn and participate in what all these amazing women do for a living. I was lucky enough to be seated at the guest speaker table and was able to meet amazing inspiring women that have done so much for our community in leading the way to allow other women follow their own dreams. It made me realise how lucky I am to be able to live the way I live today. If I were in another country or trying to build my business 20 years ago, I would not have the opportunities I have right now and the freedom I have right now.

Many things have happened in the past month, as well as fitting 5 Weddings in a weekend as well as attend two friend's weddings as well. I will need to update you all in another post as I need to go back to baking.

Hope you've all been well, stay safe and have a great Easter!

Claire & Rich's Wedding Cupcake Tower at The Convent in Daylesford. The bride went with a Marie Antoinette themed cupcake tower with lilac, pink, brown and burnt orange colours. The cupcakes were wrapped with laser cut lace cupcake wrappers that made them so unique.