Summer Entrepreneurial Experiences

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And It All Comes to an End…

Friday, August 7, 2015 3:19 am

www.tartsweets.com

The summer has finally come to a close and I have officially finished my final day as an intern at Tart Sweets Bakery. For such a short period of time, I managed to make the most of this experience. I got experience in the kitchen, working closely in customer service, and even with finances of a small business environment.

Some of the most valuable lessons learned included how important decision making can be. When a business owner is faced with difficult scenarios, all options and outcomes must be weighed. I watched Chelsea and her mother decide when they were ready to expand, when to invest on new equipment, and when to close up shop early for the day. I watched them decide to turn away business that they knew was outside of their realm of specialties or level of manpower. I watched them decide how to plan for certain ups and downs that came along with the changing seasons of the year.

Being an entrepreneur is a lot more than mastering a skill. It takes a special kind of person to put up with the added stress of running a successful small business like a bakery. The overall experience, however, did more to excite me for my future as a bakery owner rather than to deter me from it. I am confident that with each lesson learned working with or under another professional, I am one step closer to arriving at the end goal. If I can only reach said goal with all experience and no schooling…well that’s another question altogether.

It’s Not Just the Bride’s Day!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015 4:20 pm
Brown Butter Carrot Cupcake

Brown Butter Carrot Cupcake

Dinosaurs and Drums Groom's Cake

Dinosaurs and Drums Groom’s Cake

Close up of the Groom's Cake. Note the guitars, headphones, and drum sticks!

Close up of the Groom’s Cake. Note the guitars, headphones, and drum sticks!

Bride and Groom cake toppers

Bride and Groom cake toppers

Matching table centerpieces set up at the venue upon our arrival

Matching table centerpieces set up at the venue upon our arrival

Creamsicle Cupcake

Creamsicle Cupcake

This week we had the chance to create a super fun cake design. In most weddings today, it has become a tradition for the bride to present the groom with what is called a Groom’s Cake. It is typically decorated to display the interests of the groom. In this week’s case, we were asked to pull of a three-tiered drum cake, complete with plastic dinosaurs as toppers (while playing their tiny instruments, of course)!

This design, while really exciting, was one of the more intricate and tedious of the summer. There were so many tiny pieces that came together in the end to complete the overall display, and it was well worth the work. I was placed on sculpting duty, working primarily with fondant, since I had proven my ability to sculpt to Chelsea and her mother in the previous weeks.

The plastic dinosaurs were provided for us, and we’re supposedly the same you dinosaurs that the groom played with as a child. How sweet!

Some additions to this week’s menu were brown butter carrot cupcakes and creamsicle cupcakes. There was also a salted caramel frosted brown sugar pound cake on the counter that didn’t last long at all! People have to order what they want ahead of time to ensure that they are able to snag the goodies they want at Tart Sweets before they are all sold out. If someone calls and orders 90 macarons at once (which happened part week) then everyone else has to choose from what’s left. This is a result of everything in the bakery being prepared fresh every morning as opposed to mass producing all of their product at the beginning of the week and having it dry out each day it stays on the shelf — like most chain food stores around.

With everyone coming back into town for the school war to start, people better start getting into Tart Sweets as early as possible so as not to miss out on something oh so scrumptious!

 

 

It’s All About Who You Know

Thursday, July 23, 2015 6:42 pm
Peach Moonshine Pound Cake

Peach Moonshine pound cake

Peter Rabbit's veggie garden of cupcakes!

Peter Rabbit’s veggie garden…dessert style!

Peter Rabbit baby shower cake

Peter Rabbit baby shower cake

Elephant baby shower cake

Elephant baby shower cake

Mocha cupcakes

Mocha cupcakes

Pink Lemonade cupcakes

Pink Lemonade cupcakes

 

This week was pretty steady, as many of the people in the Ardmore neighborhood by the bakery are coming back into town to get ready for school, etc. Meanwhile, it’s about that time when I have to start thinking about post-college employment. At the end of my internship, I will officially be on my own. I asked Chelsea and her mom about local bakeries in the Winston-Salem area that may be , hiring and they were full of recommendations. Christina’s Dessertery in Clemmons, a town right next door to Winston-Salem, offered to give me a trial for their position opening as a cake decorator and I ended up getting the job! As disappointed as I am knowing that my internship is coming to an end, I am also super excited to get started on my first paid position decorating cakes!

After I finally secured income for the Fall, I had to move forward and look into finding a place to live. It turns out that one of the regular customers in the bakery –whose “School’s Out 4ever!” retirement cake I made at the beginning of the summer — has property in the safe and lovely Ardmore community that she was ready to lease! I am happy to say that I now have both a job and a new home, right here in good ol’ Winston Salem, NC. I would have never found either opportunity without the help of Chelsea and her mother. I ended up benefiting from my internship in more ways than one.

This week also seemed to be quite the popular week for baby shower cakes. We made two cakes for expecting mothers, one of which was topped with an adorable elephant that I sculpted from fondant. The other was Peter Rabbit themed and was complete with a sculpted Peter Rabbit, himself, and his blossoming vegetable garden in cupcake form. We also introduced a couple of new flavors of macarons. Watermelon and peach macarons will be here throughout the rest of the summer, as well as Peach Moonshine Pound Cake. There’s also pink lemonade cupcakes and mocha cupcakes complete with a chocolate covered espresso bean!

Sick Week

Tuesday, July 14, 2015 9:00 am

The bakery reopened it’s doors this week for Friday and Saturday only. Unfortunately, I was unable to come in until Saturday because I was feeling a but under the weather. Sickness and good production do NOT go well together!

Chelsea and her mother worked really hard to get the bakery back in order after also a week of much needed vacation time. Since everything is prepared from scratch, daily, they already had the routine mastered for getting all of their products for the day baked and set out in the display cases.

As for me, I mostly worked on my customer service skills while operating the register. It’s better that I stay away from the hot oven and baked goods for now…

 

NC, USA Pride

Tuesday, July 7, 2015 4:02 pm
Completed Winston-Salem, NC gift basket!

Completed Winston-Salem, NC gift basket!

Beginning decorations of the Monster's Inc. cake.

Beginning decorations of the Monster’s Inc. cake. Mike Wazowski is pictured here complete with his birthday gift and hat!

Various flavors of croissants after they have been prepared and are on there way to the oven to become warm and golden brown.

Various flavors of croissants after they have been prepared and are on there way to the oven to become warm and golden brown. Mmmm!

This Independence Day holiday week, unfortunately, wasn’t all too busy. People in Winston-Salem, particularly in the Ardmore community where the bakery is located, tend to go out of town on vacation at this time of the year. Therefore, Chelsea and her mother made the decision to close for the 4th of July and for the following week, so as not to lose money from not making enough sales to make a profit off of the product available in the store. The bakery will open again this Friday and Saturday and continue it’s regular schedule.

Before we closed for the weekend, however, a regular customer came in and requested that we help her to make a North Carolina gift basket for a friend out of town. They brought in other elements of NC for us to incorporate into the basket and to make it look presentable. The customer grabbed some signature bottled drinks and a Winston-Salem t-shirt from across the street and we added Cheerwine and the most popular flavors of our signature macarons. Everything was wrapped up and tied with a bow. It looked perfect when finished and is pictured above.

Since we had a lot of time on our hands, I was able to start working on my Monster’s Inc. themed dummy cake, which I’ve mentioned in a previous post. It is coming along nicely and some of the decorations are also pictured above.

Finally, we made the decision to widen our product offering and introduce croissants to the mix which we ran a trial run with this past week. The croissants will be sold in different flavors, such as good ol’ fashioned, cinnamon sugar, chocolate-filled, and stuffed cheddar. I sampled them, personally, fresh out of the oven, and there was no turning back.

Looking to Expand?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015 9:00 am
Patriotic cake pops!

Patriotic cake pops!

My very first dummy cake, now on display at the bakery!

 

Ice cream sammies...so worth it in this summer heat!

Ice cream sammies…so worth it in this summer heat!

Chelsea Tart's brightly colored dummy cake.

Chelsea Tart’s brightly colored dummy cake.

Last week's newlyweds dropped by to deliver a special thank you to the bakers who made a very special wedding cake!

Last week’s newlyweds dropped by to deliver a special thank you to the bakers who made a very special wedding cake!

 

Lynn and Chelsea Tart have done it. They have survived nearly two years of storefront success with Tart Sweets and have come far enough to consider the option of expanding the store. While too many customers is a good problem to have, sometimes it can seem a bit overwhelming when the three of us are practically bumping into one another in the limited kitchen space. Hence, the owners’ arrival at the decision that it is simply time to expand.

Moving is never convenient, but in this phase of the growth of their business, it is the obvious choice. Keep your eyes out for a new location with more seating, a wider product offering, and a larger kitchen so that Chelsea and Lynn won’t knock elbows and can really take off the way that they have always envisioned.

Meanwhile, summer weeks have gotten slower since kids are out of school and families are going out of town for vacation. Chelsea and her mother are preparing for the big 4th of July holiday and the bakery is being covered in red, white, and blue from top to bottom.

They have given me the special opportunity to work on some “dummy cakes” for them. These are fake cakes (made from styrofoam so they will not spoil) which are stacked and decorated as a regular cake would be to be placed on display around a bakery. This way, customers can see what the bakers at Tart Sweets are capable of and will be more inclined to purchase custom-designed cake orders.

Keep your eyes peeled for my Monster’s Inc. themed cake coming in next week’s post!

 

 

 

Wedding Bells are Ringing

Tuesday, June 23, 2015 9:00 am
SINfully delicious CINnamon rolls!

SINfully delicious CINnamon rolls!

Assorted flavors of Lynn Tart's famous macarons.

Assorted flavors of Lynn Tart’s famous macarons.

Chelsea Tart filling a banana pudding cake with fresh sliced bananas.

Chelsea Tart filling a banana pudding cake with fresh sliced bananas.

Piping in action. Chelsea Tart is finishing up the cake decorations.

Piping in action. Chelsea Tart is finishing up the cake decorations.

Wake Forest themed macarons.

Wake Forest themed macarons.

Completed wedding favors.

Completed wedding favors.

Father's Day cake decorated by yours truly!

Father’s Day cake decorated by yours truly!

Retirement party cake.

Retirement party cake.

Wedding cake.

Wedding cake.

This Father’s Day weekend was filled with parties, celebrations, and…you guessed it, weddings! Wedding cakes bring in a huge sale for the bakery, as cake prices can range anywhere from $4.00-$6.00 per slice depending on the decorations requested by the bride and her groom. Couples come in for cake tastings quite frequently around this time of year, and they even request macarons as party favors. One pre-order received at the bakery this week was black and gold macarons for the wedding of a Wake Forest couple. The macarons (pictured above) were paired and places into individual black boxes for each wedding guest and completed with a gold ribbon. While it was quite the tedious task to complete, the finished product was totally worth it in the end.

Our Saturday bride ordered a rustic, striped cake and Chelsea Tart delivered! It is so nerve wracking watching Chelsea put the cake together at the venue, as it is too dangerous to assemble the tiers before loading the cake into the car — especially on a hot summer’s day. The cake turned out beautifully and the florist complimented it with a wonderful arrangement of real flowers. A classic wedding cake for a classy bride.

There were several orders for Father’s Day cakes and treats and many of the kids who are enjoying their first official week of summer stopped by for a sweet treat. One project that Chelsea assigned to me was to design and decorate a cake meant for a middle school teacher’s retirement party. She had requested a psychedelic school bus made of macarons and a “School’s Out Forever” themed cake. I had a blast finishing up the project and, all in all, our customers at Tart Sweets were happy with their purchases.

 

 

Split Decisions

Monday, June 15, 2015 9:39 pm

Strawberry shortcake just stuffed with fresh strawberries inside!

I purchased my very own KitchenAid mixer this week to get a head start on baking for my future business!

I purchased my very own KitchenAid mixer this week to get a head start on baking for my future business!

Customer’s 50th anniversary cake. It turned out beautifully! Simple, elegant, and delicious.

Tiramisu layer cake.

Advertisement card.

 

 

BOOM! Here comes the smoke. This week was moving quite smoothly until we had a small mishap with the refrigerator at the bakery. Just like that the co-owners of the bakery had to make the split-second decision to invest in a new fridge (or two!). It is so important, as a small business owner, to ensure both safety and satisfaction when you are selling a product. With fried outlets, one of those things has been compromised, making it extremely difficult to deliver the other. Tart Sweets will be closed this upcoming Tuesday, and most likely Wednesday, until the electricians have done some rewiring and the dead refrigerator has been replaced.

In the mean time, this means a serious loss in sales, combined with dipping pretty deep into the business’s piggy bank. Fortunately, only one of the breakers in the bakery is acting up. Meaning some parts of the shop still have power and those who have pre-ordered their baked goods should not be affected.

Before disaster struck, however, we introduced some giant, gooey frosted cinnamon rolls to the bunch. Layer cakes were also thrown into the mix — tiramisu flavor, to be exact. Banana pudding and chocolate raspberry cupcakes were also this weeks specialty items and were quite irresistible. Finally, key lime pound cake and chocolate cream cheese pound cake. Yum!

Whatever this powerful mother-daughter combo can dream up, they will deliver!

A Baker’s Apprentice

Tuesday, June 9, 2015 9:00 am
Chocolate cake pops

Chocolate cake pops

A cake artist in the making!

A cake artist in the making!

Pink Lemonade flavored Macarones.

Pink Lemonade flavored Macarones.

Kentucky Bourbon Pound Cake. Back by special request.

Kentucky Bourbon Pound Cake. Back by special request.

Coffee Cake Muffins. This would go wonderfully with a nice cup of coffee from the shop next door.

Coffee Cake Muffins. This would go wonderfully with a nice cup of coffee from the shop next door.

Blueberry and Cheddar Onion Scones are offered on Fridays and Saturdays

Blueberry and Cheddar Onion Scones are offered on Fridays and Saturdays

Cookies and creme cake pops

Cookies and creme cake pops

Ol' Miss inspired cupcakes for a recent grad.

Ol’ Miss inspired cupcakes for a recent grad.

Mt. Tabor high school graduation cake.

Mt. Tabor high school graduation cake.

This gender reveal cake was my first piping job at the bakery. The inside of this kind of cake is traditionally colored either pink or blue, depending on what gender the couple is expecting.

This gender reveal cake was my first piping job at the bakery. The inside of this kind of cake is traditionally colored either pink or blue, depending on what gender the couple is expecting.

The bakers' workspace.

The bakers’ workspace.

Two chocolate chip or brown sugar cookies filled with icing in the middle.

Two chocolate chip or brown sugar cookies filled with icing in the middle.

Chocolate, Vanilla, and Blackberry  cupcakes.

Chocolate, Vanilla, and Blackberry cupcakes

My first week has been more than unbelievable. As of June 2nd, I officially started my summer entrepreneurial experience at Tart Sweets, a local bakery right here in Winston-Salem, NC. Chelsea Tart and her mother, Lynn, are the co-owners of this sweet establishment and after nearly two years in the Ardmore community, their shop is becoming quite the popular place to be.

Ms. Tart and her mother took me in with open arms, and have trusted me to help them in everything from baking pre-orders to interacting with customers in the “front of house”. In this first week alone, I have been given the task of helping to prepare baked goods offered daily in their shop on S. Hawthorne Road, as well as having been given total creative control on a gender reveal cake. This means that I have been given the opportunity to work with them both in and out of the kitchen, learning important tricks of the trade when it comes to recipe design and even major financial planning and decision-making. From this, I have seriously begun to consider the pursuit of a masters degree in business.

Owning a small business, as many already know, can be quite discouraging at times when money is tight, long hours are lost, and it seems like business just isn’t quite what was imagined. Tart Sweets, however, has done nothing less than expand in it’s client base and is beginning to grow out of the limited space in their own kitchen! They are well-known throughout the community for their lemon bars, Kentucky Bourbon pound cakes, stuffed cookies, and most importantly, their beautifully crafted wedding and event cakes. Their carefully sculpted macarons are positively perfection and take three long days to reach their peak. This mother-daughter business, complete with southern charm, is worth a pit stop for all that are in town (Wake students included)! All customers are treated as family, and that has most certainly included their new apprentice!

Now all I have to do is try not to eat everything in sight…

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