When we put out a call for stories about the sweets business, we were flooded (like a sea of chocolate syrup) with stories and tips. Here are patterns we picked up!
Began their story with a passion or a major life experience.
Juliet and Melissa of Well Baked faced health concerns and life challenges that prompted her to create healthy snacks to serve a niche oft-ignored. Melissa Megias’ battle with stage 4 melanoma was her impetus to start the business. Julie Pauly of The Able Baker lost her job, and that pushed her to innovate. For the Sweet Shop NYC, it all started with a love for ice cream. And Mindy’s Munchies — well, she REALLY loves chocolate and everything that goes with it.
TIP: Just because you love a product, doesn’t mean you can build a successful brand. You need a business plan, funding, realistic (but visionary) goals and (most important) an understanding of what customers really want and need.
Began in their own kitchens as a hobby.
Mindy’s Munchies was growing so quickly her husband demanded she move to a store or stop. She now has two locations!
TIP: You can rent a commercial kitchen to start and move thoughtfully to your own retail space.
Had founders who devoted ALL their time and energy to their businesses, especially in the beginning.
TIP: Entrepreneurship is hard work…don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The media often focuses on the freedom and glamor of having ones own business. Any start-up will say, “What freedom? What glamor?”
Had a strong focus on targeting, engaging and understanding the customer.
The Sweet Shops NYC explains “the customers will drive what we offer” and Telluride Truffles says “having the best truffles ever” tasted by the Denver Post Food editor surely helps.
TIP: Without the support of your customers and the media, you can’t scale.
Had great branding.
Mindy’s Munchies, in businesses since 2006 and is now on her second brick and mortar store — talks about the importance of starting with a good brand ID… her logo can’t be missed and resonates meaning for her.
TIP: Don’t skip or bargain-shop when naming your business. Investing in a trademark is important too.
Had a support system.
Some entrepreneurs had families that pitched in to guide and assist; others created their support in the form of industry groups.
TIP: Ask for help when you need it.
Highlighted quality and uniqueness.
Telluride Truffle, in business over 20 years and grossing over $500M annually, says her product is a standout in the market. We also see that with The Able Baker and The Sweet Shop NYC. And don’t forget specialty niches. Well Baked is truly on to something with its healthy (and tasty!) baked goods to satisfy clients with a health-conscious sweet tooth.
TIP: Desserts are a cluttered and competitive space. Think about what makes YOUR brand better?
Embraced technology and social media.
The Sweet Shop NYC is celebrating 4 years in business and credits social media with much of its growth —especially in delivery services— with a demand that grew ten-fold! In fact, all of our entrepreneurs in this category seem to embrace social media — from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram.
TIP: Social media is a great way of staying close to and build your fan base…and sharing your product with new prospects and the media of course. If you don’t have time yourself, recruit help.
A huge helping of thank you to the following companies that inspired this story!
Mindy’s Munchies (Mindy Mosca)
Well Baked by Juliet and Melissa (Juliet Cavallaro and Melissa Megias)
The Able Baker (Julie Pauly)
The Sweet Shop NYC (Glynn Eppy)
Telluride Truffle (Patty Denny)