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Life and Work with Rochelle M. Ragas

 

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rochelle M. Ragas.

Rochelle, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Baking is a passion that I have had for a very long time. It was something my dad and I did which provided for great bonding time. We would get in the kitchen and craft items from scratch with whatever we had on hand. His specialty was pies – specifically lemon meringue pies. I, on the other hand, leaned more towards cakes as I could be more creative.

Fast forward to today, baking is what I really enjoy doing.  I began baking for myself and then for family and friends and in November of 2011 decided to give it a shot as a business. After throwing names out there with a friend we I came up with Sweet Shak – and here we are.

Sweet Shak is the next chapter in my work journey.  I love baking Bundt cakes, layer cakes, and cupcakes all made fresh and from scratch. I enjoy the process of combining flavors and taking ideas I have in my head and making it into cake form or modifying a recipe I come across to make it my own. IBaking has truly become my passion and my favorite thing to do.

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?
Smooth? What? Not a chance!! Trying to build a business while working a full-time job is truly not for the faint of heart.  In addition to figuring out financing, learning how and where to market your business to build your brand, and just balancing it all will drive you insane sometimes during the ‘building’ phase.  But, if you are committed to making your side business your main business, you will make those sacrifices and learn those things needed to be successful.

That is why I am thankful I stumbled upon a program called WiNGS in Dallas. I was driving down Inwood Road one day and happened to see a large ‘@W’ in front of a building. So, me just being nosy, I stopped by and found out more; and I am SO glad I did. By joining WiNGS I was better able to understand what I needed to do from a personal perspective, but also learned more about the ‘business’ side of business. The Women’s Enterprise Center Program is a fantastic way to go through each phase of getting your business off the ground – and it’s all FREE!!

To other women who are on this journey, I’ll say this – don’t be afraid to reach out for help. We all are where we are now because someone helped us along the way. Reach out to people in your field, people not in your field, look for programs of assistance (did I mention WiNGS?) that will help you get more focused and going in the right direction. Network, Network, Network – you can’t be shy when you’re trying to build a business.  Everyone is a potential client so have your 30 second pitch polished and always ready.  Let people know what you do.  Always have your business cards handy.  Give business card to family and friends and ask them to help spread the word.

Is it still tough to balance it all? Yes, I would be lying if I said otherwise. But, I’m in a much better place than I was at the beginning simply because I decided to take a chance on myself and try.

Please tell us about Sweet Shak.
Sweet Shak specializes in fresh made, scratch-made baked goods. We provide Bundt cakes, layer cakes, and cupcakes for any occasion. We are known for providing quality baked goods that melt in your mouth and takes you back to your days of grandma’s kitchen. We strive to set ourselves apart by providing that personal one-on-one touch working with each client to ensure satisfaction. Making that personal connection is key in repeat business and shared business information.

I am most proud of the fact that I am willing to share what I know with others. Why?  Because someone did the same for me, and even when I reach out now I have received so much positive feedback and assistance.  I do not have a problem sharing the business knowledge I have learned with others who are starting a small business.  There is enough room for all of us at the table to be successful.

Who have you been inspired by?
I was inspired by my dad who taught me to love baking and to not be afraid to try something new.  And, my wonderful mother who is my biggest supporter and my biggest critic.  She encourages me to do well all the time and helps me push through even when I am at my wits end.

Contact Info:

 

 

Image Credit:
Profile pic – Donna Dunlap – Picturing Art – Donna Dunlap Photography, Pictures of products – Rochelle M. Ragas

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