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Hidden Gems: Meet Chelsie Daniels of My Lush Bakery

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chelsie Daniels.

Hi Chelsie, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I first started baking as a child in the kitchen with my grandmothers as their unofficial “taste tester”. I absolutely loved watching them prepare treats for the holidays and sampling whatever scraps were left over. Around the age of seven, I vividly remember my mother purchasing me an Easy Bake Oven and I was slightly offended! I explained to her that I was more than capable of using the big oven and she allowed me to bake my first real cake: a chocolate chip vanilla cake in the shape of a heart for my teddy bear’s wedding.

Fast forward several years and I became the resident baker for my sorority sisters whenever we would host bake sales. So, I would bake for our events, as well as just for fun for my roommates and friends. When my paternal grandmother passed, I became the baker in the family for holidays making most of the sweets, so I continued to bake just not as frequently.

Over the years, I spent obscene amounts of money on birthday cakes for my daughter even though I knew deep down inside I was cable of making some of the items I purchased. In 2019 I finally mustered the courage to make my daughter’s 3rd birthday cake for her brunch-themed party. It was a rainbow sprinkle vanilla butter cake with fondant decorations to make it look like a stack of pancakes. My friends and family did NOT believe that I made the cake simply after watching a YouTube tutorial. I was peacock proud of my creation, but at the time I didn’t give a second thought to any of their suggestions to make a business out of it.

When the pandemic hit, I saw a lot of moms posting on social media looking for ideas to keep their little ones busy. Several moms shared fun in-home activities and I saw a post on IG about a cookie kit, so I decided to make a few. I posted about (4) kits for sale, and they were sold immediately! That’s when I decided to revisit this whole baking as a side hustle idea. I created a logo using Canva, started a Facebook page, and posted the cookie kits along with my daughter’s cake. Shortly after, I began receiving inquiries from my neighbors for small cakes to celebrate their loved ones for birthdays/anniversaries. Word spread throughout the community and my schedule started to fill up quickly on the weekends with cake orders.

Currently, I work full-time during the week and fulfill my bakery orders on the weekends. I book two weeks out at the moment and I’ve taken on as many as (50) orders during the holiday season and (6) orders on the weekends. I would say that providing consistent and friendly customer service to my clients has afforded me with the opportunity to grow my business.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
My most difficult obstacle to overcome as a business owner has been knowing and charging what I am worth. In the beginning, I gave a lot of discounts to friends and neighbors because I was afraid of pricing my items too high or second-guessing my value due to being “just a beginner”. I quickly realized that I was eating into my costs and running a fun hobby vs a successful business. My solution was to seek advice from bakers that I admired: I purchased classes to learn new techniques and pricing strategies, I performed market research to see what others were charging, and most importantly I leaned on my business background to evaluate the true cost of goods in comparison to my desired profit margins to determine what I needed to charge for my services.

Another struggle for me was just an overall lack of confidence. I always run pictures and videos of my finished products by my family because I know that they will give me their unfiltered opinions. The more I began to create the more I realized that I had a true talent for baking and decorating so that confidence began to build over time. I’m very comfortable turning down inquires that are not within my wheelhouse and I’m confident that the work I produce will meet my clients’ standards.

We’ve been impressed with My Lush Bakery, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
To say that my business has been blessed would be an understatement! Baking brings me so much joy and has become a creative outlet for me. I love it when my clients allow me creative freedom to create something unique and fun for their events. Almost every single one of my clients has been a referral from another client.

I specialize in making luscious buttercream covered cakes with classic and/or unique flavor profiles. Examples include: White Chocolate Layers with Raspberry Filling, Strawberry Cake Layers with Dulce De Leche Filling and a seasonal favorite Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Bourbon Caramel Filling and Brown Sugar Buttercream. The “Lush” in my bakery name comes from my aptitude to put liquor in just about anything! For my adult clients, I create spirit-infused treats that pack a nice little kick. Pulling from my southern roots, during the holidays I also offer pound cakes in a wide variety of flavors, pies, and cookies.

One of my proudest moments was creating my first wedding cake. In October/November of 2020, I was a part of a small entrepreneur group led by a college friend. I set a goal for myself to book my first wedding cake by the end of 2021. However, two weeks or so after I set that personal goal, I received a phone call from a bride that had been referred to me to book a wedding cake for December 2020. So I ended up achieving one of the goals I set for my business a year in advance.

Do you any memories from childhood that you can share with us?
My favorite childhood memory was spending Thanksgiving with family. The entire house was filled with delicious smells and old-school music. My grandmothers made the best pound cakes and sweet potato pies which I could not wait to sample!

One year, my grandmother sent my aunt to the store to get pie crusts and specifically told her to NOT get deep dish crust. I tagged along for the run and we quickly realized that all of the local stores were sold out of pie crust.

So my aunt figured that getting the deep dish crust was better than returning with no crust. When we returned home, my grandmother fussed my aunt out so bad! But in an interesting turn of events, my grandmother actually ended up making too much filling so the deep dish crusts worked out perfectly!

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