Today we’d like to introduce you to Heather Harbord.
Heather, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Well, like most 18-year-olds, I went off to college with no clue who I was or what I wanted to do. I knew I was creative, but I went the more conservative route, and I graduated with a business degree from Baylor. I crammed too many hours into my semesters and was forced to find a way to relieve some stress. Enter: baking… something I always enjoyed, but this time, I couldn’t stop reading blogs and watching how-to YouTube videos. Graduation came and went, and I landed a job (far from any dream job I’d envisioned). It paid the bills, but I knew from month one that this was not the life for me.
I lived at home with my parents for a year, hoarded all of my earnings, and found a cake focused culinary program that would teach me the skills I so desperately wanted to learn. Without giving it much thought, I paid my entire tuition up front, found a tiny Bed & Breakfast to live in for two months, and flew to Toronto, CA without knowing a soul there. I was a sponge, and I loved every single minute of those long, grueling days in the kitchen. Upon returning to Dallas in Fall 2012, Whisk Until Sweet was born. I was also working for a non-profit at the time to make ends meet, and over the course of the next three years, I’d hold as many as three additional part-time jobs at once while also cranking out cakes. I started 2016 off with the mission of focusing on this cake business of mine, and I let go of every other job/crutch/safety net. I was terrified. I was more surprised than anyone that I actually landed on my feet. After years of wondering how I’d ever make this passion my full-time career, the answer was so clear: do it every day. And in that first year full-time, I was ok. Actually, more than ok.
That little seed of success has grown into a business I can no longer handle on my own, and we’re opening our first retail bakery location in Oak Cliff this Fall. It’s been an exercise in trusting my gut, trusting my abilities, and trusting that those who work hard will see a reward, and I’m so glad I didn’t throw in the towel every time I wanted to.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Not at all!
In the beginning, I was told ‘no’ quite often. I didn’t have my recipes perfected yet, and I didn’t really know anyone in the Dallas wedding industry. That meant a few referrals, and from those referrals, even fewer bookings. My advice would be to connect, connect, connect. I’m introverted, and I don’t prefer to be in a large group, so for me, this looked like emailing wedding planners, florists, photographers, calligraphers, etc… that I admired and asking them to meet for coffee. Those connections led to styled photo shoots, which built my portfolio and increased my online presence. They also led to friendships and mentors- both crucial when navigating entrepreneurship.
During that time, I also reworked most of my recipes- the most critical component to winning over customers. Know your craft well, and produce something so lovely you’re proud to back it.
Please tell us about Whisk Until Sweet // soon to be Crumb & Kettle.
I make custom cakes for weddings and events. I specialize in the wedding industry, but I also make cakes for birthdays, anniversaries, etc….
I’m known for the style of cake I make. Most cakes here in Texas & the South, in general, are very sweet. I set out to create a cake that wouldn’t give you a toothache- one that uses swiss meringue buttercream rather than american buttercream. It’s a completely different product, and I find that most customers are blown away by how light it is compared to what they’ve eaten their whole lives. The cakes are also unique in that I don’t add any extracts or artificial flavors – so, vanilla cake is made with vanilla beans, and strawberry cake is made with fresh reduced strawberries. A wedding cake is likely the last thing guests will eat on the big day, and I want for it to be refreshing & memorable.
My focus has always been on high-quality ingredients- organic and local (whenever possible). I care a tremendous amount about the food that I put into my own body, and that same care transfers seamlessly into my business. I make everything from scratch- buttercream, caramel, fillings, cake layers, and I think it shows. The artistic beauty you see on the outside is matched on the inside with thoughtful cake layers & unique flavor combinations.
The new shop will offer cake by the slice, a few unique dessert options, drip coffee & espresso, and cake classes.
Do you think there are structural or other barriers impeding the emergence of more female leaders?
Fortunately, I feel the wedding industry welcomes female leaders with open arms. The majority of vendors are female, and we celebrate one another’s successes. I know this is far from the norm in most other industries, and I’m grateful for it.
Outside of the industry, working with customers/clients, there has been a certain unspoken requirement to prove myself- I imagine because I’m a woman in my twenties. Comments might denote a bit of uncertainty in my abilities, but that only ignites my fire. “Why, yes! I am a woman in my twenties, and I run this whole show.”
However, the biggest barrier for me has been my own self- lacking courage and self-confidence at times. Being an entrepreneur/business owner has taught me more about my shortcomings than anything else in life. But, it’s also taught me what I’m great at & what makes me unique, and it’s crucial to focus on those strengths.
- Custom cakes range from $5-$9/serving
- Address: Coming this Fall to Tyler Station!
Crumb & Kettle
1300 S. Polk St. #230
Dallas, TX 75224
- Website: WhiskUntilSweet.com
- Phone: 469.626.8488
- Email: WhiskUntilSweet@gmail.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/whiskuntilsweet/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/whisk.untilsweet/