Sunday, March 20, 2016

The end of an era.

Nine months ago, I wrote this blog post. Up to that point, it was one of the biggest decisions I had made for my business. But recently, because of another "9 months" situation, I am writing the most important blog post to date! If you missed the BIG NEWS, Kelley Hurtt (my baker, employee, right hand, other half of my brain, and one of my best friends) is PREGNANT!!! Her husband and her are having a baby boy, and I'm so excited for them!
What does this have to do with the cakery? Well, I knew Kelley wanted to stay home after having the baby, and that she wanted to leave at the beginning of the third trimester, which would be early May. I wrestled with the decision of what to do as far as continuing with the cakery without her, and I cried MANY MANY tears. Do I hire another person (Kelley offered to train him or her), do I try to do it alone, do I close for just the summer? The more I thought about it, I realized that if I didn't have Kelley, I didn't want to do it at all. She has become the other half of GWIC, and without her, it won't be the same. SHE is what makes it fun for me. SHE knows what to do before I say it. SHE knows what I'm thinking before I open my mouth. And as much as I knew it could work with someone else, I decided that this was the push I needed to step out of my comfort zone.
tag team fo life, Kelley and me

Here's the thing, I had been feeling in my gut for a while that I wanted to do something else with my life...with my career. I fell into cakes almost 10 years ago, and stuck with it because I had a natural talent for them. I didn't want to waste that talent, especially after feeling like I hadn't quite found my calling in my adult life. But all good things must come to an end, and I want to challenge myself with something totally new! I want to have a more steady schedule, and more steady pay (please baby Jesus). I want to get paid what I'm worth for the hours I work (or at least come close to it). I want to contribute more to my family, in all ways (emotionally, with my time, financially, etc). I've felt for some time that I'm not using a very smart, capable, and able body to my full potential, even though I work so hard. Believe it or not, I don't want to be a business OWNER anymore. It's absolutely exhausting to feel like you're always behind the 8 ball, with a list of things to do, AND a list of things that still hasn't been done yet. You have to be thinking 10 steps ahead, but also dissecting what happened in the last few months. You rarely get to live in the moment, and that's what I'm all about! I want to enjoy life, and not be stressed to the max every single moment.
i love our logo and biz cards...sprinkles!

So going back to what happens in May. Well, it just so happens that my kids will be out of school in the beginning of June, I started to think...'what if I got to be home with my minis for the first summer EVER?!' I've been "home" with them when I ran the cakery out of my house, but I wasn't really "home" because I was always working. I was telling the minis to entertain themselves, please get out of the kitchen, hurry in to the car for deliveries, we can't go to the park because the ovens are going non-stop, we need to stay home for pickups, we can't have play dates because the entire downstairs is devoted to cakes and they can't get messed up, and the list goes on. I did my best to juggle it all, and give them a good time still, but it wasn't enough. And I want to make it up to them. I posted this on Facebook a month ago...

Made a huge life decision at 6:47am with the help of a 7 and 9 year old as my sounding board. That should make the rest of the day quite interesting. wink emoticon

Want to know what I said to them? I went in to their room to wake them up for school, and I watched them sleeping so peacefully. And I realized that I am always in such a rush, that I'm not absorbing these moments. So I woke them, and grabbed Lilly and put her in Bella's bed, and said, "what if mommy closed the shop for good, and it would mean I could be home with you girls this summer?!" Bella started to cry, hugged me, and said that it was the "best gift ever." Lilly was smiling and said it would make her "heart happy." So there was my decision...from the mouths of babes.
my minis, Isabella and Lillian

So I am going to go home and be with my loves for the summer. And possibly have three extra littles to take care of! Joshua and I are the guardians for my brother's and sister-in-law's sons, and they may need us to watch them while they are in training in different places (they're both in the Army). I need to be available at a moment's notice, and more importantly, I want to be available. What will my job be after the summer ends?! For the first time in my life, I HAVE NO WORDS. I truly don't know what I'm going to do, but that's exciting for me!!! I have so many options, because I have ALL of the options!
Joy, John, and my nephews Gavin, Aiden, and Ethan (eat them up!)

For 10 years, I've done cakes. And just kept doing cakes because I had been doing cakes...if that makes sense?! But I truly believe I can do many jobs now that I've run a company! And not only run a company, but succeeded. I'm not stopping because it's not a great company. It makes a profit, and always has. I have a huge social media following, and so much support from the community. I have no business debt whatsoever, and never investors, no loans, no credit cards, etc. I've only grown as big as the cash flow allowed, so that when I did decide to be done, I could walk away not owing a soul! I'm also very proud of the fact that we have never had to refund a all these years! So make no mistake, GWIC is thriving, taking names, and kicking ass! It's just not my passion anymore.
the day i got the key to the shop (2 1/2 years ago)

So what would my dream job be? Being Cam's personal assistant, duh. ;) Or Ron Rivera's. Maybe do PR for the Panthers or the Hornets? I would LOVE to combine my love for my city, the fun things to do in it, and the sports somehow, but I don't know just what that is yet! A blog is probably a good place to start! Do you know of a job I'd be great at?! Have you been waiting to snatch me up?! LOL! Hook a sister up! ;)
Panthers, HIRE ME! I can even make the stadium in cake!

We've had the most incredible customers over the years. I have one word...LOYAL. People have followed us through it all. From the first home, to the next home, to the cakery...from small cakes, to big cakes, to wedding cakes, to tiered cakes, back to small cakes, and everywhere in between! I can't possibly express my gratitude to everyone who has supported me and us over the last decade. I'm obsessed with our customers...and my love for them is what has made this decision so hard. Not seeing their smiling faces, getting their warm hugs, hearing what's new in their lives, making cakes for their most special's going to be heartbreaking. PLEASE friend me on facebook so I can keep up with your lives! But I know it's the right call.
(Keep scrolling past the cute pics of some of our customers)

Want to know one of the most frustrating things though?! Time for some REAL TALK. I'm mad at myself because I FINALLY figured out the right recipe (pun intended) to the perfect business model for us. When we stopped the custom tiered and wedding cakes last October, things got SO.MUCH.BETTER!!! (Why didn't I do that sooner?!!!) Welllll, I wasn't sure if we'd have enough small cake business to make up for all of those big money wedding cakes, but WE DID! I was kind of shocked, but not only did we sell plenty of small cakes and cruffle pops, the margins were far and away better, and we exceeded any and all expectations. AND I worked waaaaaay less (some weeks, I even worked LESS than 50 hours!!! ;)) . I didn't have to go back in to the cakery every night, and having the majority of my weekends back was blissful. There were SO many less emails to respond to because we could take small cake orders easily over the phone. No more sketches to make. No more consultations and tastings. I got my life back in many ways! At least I can say NOW that I know what works :) And I probably would've stayed in it as long as I had Kelley. But baby boy Hurtt was the catalyst I needed to pursue what was in my heart, and I can't wait to see where it leads! I'm so grateful for a baby who's not even born yet! So if you're keeping count, that's a 21 week old baby, a one year old, a three year old, a six year old, a seven year old, and a nine year old helping make my major life decision! LOL!

In saying all of this, I would be remiss not to mention that I'm toying around with the idea of selling Got What It Cakes, the business, so if you know anyone who would be interested, they can contact me! If it's not the right fit, or if someone is simply looking for a bakery/food space to rent in Pineville, let me know that too! My lease is month to month right now, and would be available June 1st essentially. If you want the space in Pineville AND the biz, then even better! Email is Let's chat!

Our last day will be May 20th, so please let us know what we can do for you before then!!! We want to make as many FINALE cakes as possible, to make as many people happy as possible! Here's the link to our Easter offering's newsletter (always plugging :))! And come shop in the gift shop! We have so much cute stuff in there!!!

I really can't believe it's almost done, and the amount of tears shed. Telling our regulars that we're closing has been brutal. I know what you're thinking, "won't you miss it soooooooo much?!" Well, yes, of course I'll miss some things about it! But I can't WAIT to see what this next journey is.

Maybe it will take me nine months to figure it out ;) {And no, I'm not pregnant}

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

It's time...

I really don't know where to start yall. This post has been a long time coming, and it's equally the best, and the saddest post I've ever had to type. So instead of beating around the bush, I will just spit it out. After I complete the ones already booked on the calendar, I'm retiring from custom cakes and wedding cakes. Okay, I typed it, and you've read it. Let's take a minute to let it sink in together. I realize that to some of you it seems crazy for me to be doing this, and to others, you're saying, "yes girl it's time!" And don't panic! I'm still keeping the store, and the retail portion of it...single tier cakes, the cakes by the slice, cruffle pops, etc. But I had to draw the line somewhere, and I would miss seeing the daily customers too much to give up the retail part.

Photo by: Old South Studios

The truth of it is this. I work all of the time. If I'm not physically in the shop working (which in any given week is from 30-90 hours), I'm somewhere else working. I'm home on the computer. Or on the phone with customers. Or at 6 million stores shopping for ingredients. Or running every facet of my social media while I'm walking. Or updating my website. Or editing pictures. Or driving all over this city (and more) delivering cakes. Or meeting someone for a pickup. Or filling out order forms. Or doing sketches. Or searching for THE perfectly sized toy for a cake. Or emailing people all the time EVERYWHERE because all I really do is email people. Seriously. 2am, Sunday mornings, on "vacations," while camping, at birthday parties, school functions, sports games, family dinners, movies, etc. And I just don't want to be that way anymore. I want to focus wherever I am, and on whatever I'm doing. I've checked myself out of the hospital three times because I've had a cake that needed to be done for an event. Two years ago, I had an emergency appendectomy at 2am on a Saturday morning, and delivered a wedding cake that Sunday afternoon. That's not a good thing. Being the only decorator and the only delivery person in my business is too hard on me. I can't continue at this pace. And hiring additional people to do those things isn't the right answer for me. We don't have the room, and I don't want to move to a bigger space (yet). I've run this business debt free since the beginning and I want to keep it that way. I want to grow it as big as I can, but at a pace I'm comfortable with. 
 Photo by: LunahZon Photography 
 I'm a wife to an amazing man, and a mom to the two sweetest girls in the world. And I'm missing out on too many parts of these days, and months, and years with them. I can always go back to the custom cakes, but I can't get the years back with the people I love most. People will always be getting married, celebrating birthdays, having babies, etc., so cakes will be around forever. But my girls, living under my roof, who want to actually hang out with me, won't. So that's really the driving force behind this decision. Time. I don't have enough of it to go around, so I'm making the priorities where they need to be right now. I can't continue to work all week, nearly every weekend, every holiday, etc., and miss out on life. I've missed karate belt testings, mom and me breakfasts, school parties, recitals, trips, vacations, birthdays, births, showers, weddings, funerals and so much more. I need to be more available to my family and my friends. They deserve a better me. And I do too. 

 Photo by: The Beautiful Mess

Focusing on just the retail portion of the store will enable me to simplify life because I can stream line the order process for those small cakes. Our retail has picked up SO MUCH in the last 6 months, and it can be even bigger if I stop the custom/wedding cakes. I want to be a destination that people just HAVE to visit when they come to Charlotte. I want a line out of the door daily. I haven't been able to truly market the way I've wanted to because we really couldn't grow any bigger. We were already at capacity. Without custom cakes, we will have more room on the calendar for the single tier cakes...people won't have to always hear, "sorry, we're booked." I can get the mail-order cruffle pops business off of the ground so everyone can send cruffle pops as a gift to someone who deserves them! I can start to offer same day cakes, for those who might need a last minute whole cake for an occasion that's taking place that night! Things that people have been asking for, can start being done. I want more time to devote to the charitable organizations I volunteer for as well. Giving back is beyond important to me, and I can't wait to do bigger and better things with and through GWIC in that way!


I realize that this means not doing custom cakes for people that I have grown to love. And that has been the hardest part in the decision making process. People like Anna Furr, who came to me as a customer, and is now a dear friend. She has trusted me with every cake for her two sons, multiple family members, work colleagues, friends, and more. She always trusted me with the design, never complained about price, and had a hug waiting for me at the right time, every time she picked up her cakes. She hung in there through the thick and thin of my business, and never left. And there are so many "Anna Furrs" in my business. I love you all so much, and can't express my gratitude enough for giving me the opportunity to be a part of THE most special days in your lives. I hope we can still be there for yall...just in a little bit different of a way now. But in saying that, I totally understand if you need to go somewhere else for your tiered/wedding cakes. Because that's what friends do. We understand each other, and the ebbs and flows in life. Just please know how much I love yall for making GWIC what it is today. YOU built this company, not me. Without loyal customers, I was just a girl making cakes for my family or close friends. To all of the wedding planners and industry people who have passed my name on to your clients, you've been the best support I could've ever asked for. People always ask me what it's like to work with bridezillas, and I say the same thing every time...I've never had one. I've been so incredibly fortunate to have awesome clients. I've still never refunded a penny to anyone in all of these years. Do you know how rare it is to say that? To have so many people that love your work? It's truly humbling.

Photo by: Sean Pressley

I have had incredible luck in this business. I know it sounds cliche, but I have done more than I EVER could have imagined! I certainly didn't set out to be in The New York Times, or be interviewed by Katie Couric, or to meet Sheryl Sandberg or Andy Cohen. I have made cakes for celebrities, been on TV almost as many times as I was when I was a reporter (LOL), have been featured in nearly every local and regional magazine imaginable, won multiple awards, and so much more! I can't even explain how lucky I have been. Don't get it twisted though...I've worked my ass off, but I also know I'm lucky. Especially because I've been very vocal about winging it since day one ;) I don't always know what I'm doing, but it's worked so far to go with my gut, so I'm going to continue to do that now.

 This isn't goodbye. I am SO EXCITED about what is to come! We will still be making single tier cakes, still selling the cakes by the slice, the cruffle pops, and more! We're looking to add more open hours, ship our cruffle pops, have additional products to offer, host events at the store, etc. But I need your help. In order for me to succeed this way, I need support. Please come in the store, buy our cakes and cruffles, share our pictures on social media, tell your friends, and simply consider us for your dessert needs. If you're hosting a party, we can make the dessert! Instead of going to a huge, chain grocery store, call us! We make every bit of cake, filling, buttercream, toppings, etc. from scratch. We work so incredibly hard to make the best products possible, and we'd love to earn your business. And if you've had a great experience, please leave a review online somewhere! Orrrrrr, just come in to the store and hug me...most days I need those more than anything!

Thank you so much for reading, for supporting me, and for loving me all of these years. I hope you'll continue to walk on this journey with me. It's time... 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

You are my sunshine...

Many of you know I make cakes for a living.  If you don't, you can see my work here, and, lots of other places (just google Got What It Cakes). :)

I started making cakes because of Isabella, my 7 year old.  I wanted her to have a fabulous 1st birthday, but we had been living off of one verrrrrrrry tight income for well, a year ;)  And I just didn't have the kind of money needed for an over the top party...enter DIY Mandie.  I had always been crafty, with an eye for design, so I set out to make an 'under the sea'-themed party to remember...including, making the cake.  The cake was fair at best, but she loved it (or so her smile said), so I loved it.  And it also gave me the itch to make more.  Fast forward 7 years, and I'm about to open my very own store front in Pineville!!!

Anyways, back to the topic at hand.  My college bestie, Tina, who lives in Charleston, has a precious little boy, name Connor, and he was turning one!  She asked if I could recommend someone down there to make a cake, and I said, "why don't I just come down there for the party, and bring the cake?!  I don't think I have any other cakes that weekend!"  She was so excited, and so was I...I hadn't seen them since Connor was just born, so it was a gift to be able to be a part of this big day!  Tina and I started bouncing around theme ideas, and we kept coming back to the fact that Tina's hubby, Justin, is a meteorologist.  And I was OBSESSED with the idea of having a 'weather' themed party of some sort.  And when I have an idea, I have to follow through with it (which gets very exhausting).  But we still wanted it to be cute, young, and fun...enter 'You are my sunshine!'  It was perfect, and I got busy with design.  After many emails and pictures and phone calls and texts, Tina and I finalized every detail together.
After the theme was decided, I ordered printables right away.  Listen to me people...I highly suggest you order printables for any party you throw.  They tie everything together, are affordable, and are just plain cute. I asked my friend, Rachel, at RV Parties to get busy on design, and oh yeah, she was about to give birth to her third boy!  I told her I understood if it was bad timing, and she insisted it was "perfect" timing, because she would have down time in the hospital?!!! Yall, she emailed me the final proofs 3 hours after giving birth.  Yes, she is a ROCKSTAR. And yes, I do kind of get what she means about down time in the hospital...nurses on call, a chef (I use that loosely, although I do LOVE some hospital food), everyone tells you to lie down, and you have a nursery for the baby with built in expert help.  Oh, and no other kids to chase! Rachel, Tina and I are so appreciative for your hard work on everything for this party.

Make sure yall read to the end to see the giveaway that's going on right now from RV Parties!

Everything starts with the invitation...

I'm so excited to share the party pictures, taken by Tumbleston Photography ...ENJOY!
Here's the dessert table!  I knew I wanted to hang umbrellas upside down, and when I saw these old-school, clear ones, I was giddy!  We put some tissue paper inside to mock rain, and add dimension.
I glued rain drops, tied with fishing wire, to the umbrellas, and put some into the ceiling with thumb tacks.  The backdrop was made with a sheet and some thick ribbon...voila...we have rays of sun!  Grey fabric covers the table, and a pennant banner drapes across the front.

Cookies were shaped like clouds (made with a flower cutter), and umbrellas.  Printed paper lined the serving tray.  Marshmallows were dipped in chocolate and two-toned.  Cruffle pops were placed on top of round printables, with flags on the lollipop sticks for added cuteness.  And the cupcake display was styrofoam rounds, wrapped in printed, chevron paper.  I'm really mad at myself because I forgot to put the rice krispie treats, that were shaped like tear drops, on the final table.  Even though I had an extra empty plate, and an extra food tag, AND had made them myself, I *still* didn't notice that they weren't on the friggin' table...sigh. But here they are from my Instagram feed, to prove I did truly make them ;)

Ready for a close-up of the cake?!!! 
The printables really helped me with the design...I loved the repeating, staggered tear drop pattern, and well as the chevron.  A few clouds in the sky, and a sun with a C for Connor, completed the look!

Now, for the take home table! 

Poms, puffs, and latterns, in our color scheme hung above it using fishing wire, and thumb tacks!

I love a white goodie bag that I can dress up myself.  Some coordinating ribbon hot glued on the front, and a printable in the middle...DONE!  I love that Tina purchased these pinwheels that looked like the sun...I propped them out of the top for added decor.

Fill your own candy bags! Printables and ribbon personalize clear jars! Justin spray painted the O-N-E, and I love it on top of the fun fabric.

 The presents table was covered in fabric, and had pictures of Connor through the 12 months. Tina used ribbons and clothespins to hang cute!  This was at the beginning of the party...Connor hit the jackpot with his gifts :)

I wanted a unique photo booth idea for the party, and again was inspired by the birthday boy's daddy!  Enter, the green screen!!!  We draped green fabric on the wall, and had random pieces of velcro on it. Then we had big rain drops, suns, and clouds that the kids could move around however they wanted to create their own weather patterns!  A coat rack hung next to it and had a suit jacket, tie, and umbrella on it.  Plus, we had a basket of microphones, silly glasses, and more props to use as well, on the floor.  "And now, for a check on the weather, we'll go to Bella..."

Tina had BBQ catered for the party (YUM!), and a drink station set up on the counter...
Yes, we are adorable with the Sun Drop ;)  It was just too perfect for our theme!  And I love that Tina had fresh flowers throughout the decor...SUNflowers were such a great touch!  

After we finished our food, it was time for CAKE, specifically the smash cake!  I simply removed the top tier of the cake, and that became Connor's!  He wasn't sure what to do at first...
But here's the trick to getting them to eat the cake...move it as close to their face as possible..
He got the hang of it :)

Justin and LeAnne didn't want a drop of it to go to waste LOL!!!

Some action shots of the par-tay!
Yes, my girls' outfits match the color scheme, and no, they never get sick of mommy's cupcakes ;)

Tina and Justin, thank you for letting me be a part of such a special day in your little weatherman's life...I had a blast, and can't see what we do for his 2nd!!!!  JUST KIDDING Justin! ;)

So I promised yall a giveaway, right?!  To celebrate RV Parties 1,000 fan on Facebook, they've decided to give one of their awesome, custom plates to one winner!!! I have 2 of them for my minis, and they LOVE them!  Click on this link to see how to enter!  If it's not showing up, make sure you've "liked" their Facebook page!  And then click on the blue giveaway button at the top of it!

Decor & More TIPS:
~Use fabric!!!  It makes all of the difference in the world, and although I can sew, I didn't for this party.  Just an iron will do the trick!  Solid fabric is the majority of yards in solid fabric, and dress it up with the patterned fabric.  
~Go the printable route with invites and decorations!  You purchase the package ONCE, and then print as MUCH as you want, and need!  So much more cost effective.
~Look around the house...use glass jars that you already have, and dress them up with ribbon to coordinate with your theme. We didn't have to buy anything for the photo booth...Tina had everything already!

Now go outside and tell me what kind of weather you have going on today in your neck of the woods!