Today we’d like to introduce you to Esther Oppong.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My earliest memory of baking is in my mother’s kitchen, watching her expertly roll loaves of bread dough on a floured surface and nestle them into shiny silver loaf pans slick with shortening. The aroma of fresh bread, hot and steaming from the oven, will always be the foundation and joy of my baking beginnings–but this is a story about cupcakes; specifically Queen Esther’s Cupcakes!
Sadly, I never learned to bake my mom’s bread–my loaves always turned out shamefully lumpy and misshapen in comparison. Nonetheless, I enjoyed experimenting in the kitchen and my family encouraged my pursuits! I value precision and attention to detail, both of which baking requires, so I found great pleasure in finding and baking new recipes–mostly for family cookouts, holidays, and special occasions. As I grew older, I baked for friends, roommates, and coworkers for fun, and people always vowed, “If you open a shop or restaurant, I’d buy your food!” I never aspired to become a baker or own a business, so I casually shrugged off their enthusiasm.
During a six-month stint of unemployment following my master’s degree, I created a food blog to occupy my time and attention, where I began to style and photograph my food more intentionally. My goal is always to create food that tastes as beautiful as it looks, so I focused on tantalizing my readers with appetizing entrees and tasty desserts. Many of the cupcake recipes I created there are now part of Queen Esther’s Cupcakes’ present-day menu!
I did get a job as an Academic Counselor and loved every minute of it, but soon found myself in need of supplemental income. Rather than seeking a second job working for someone else, I brainstormed my own marketable skills, and cupcakes kept coming back to the surface. Not yet convinced, I prayed and researched like crazy to determine the feasibility of such a venture–and everything was coming up roses! From the Texas Cottage Food Law that allows home bakers like me to sell from home, to meeting a couple from my church who designed my (perfect) logo, to consulting old friends who have experience in home-based food businesses that have since grown exponentially, I found favor at every turn and finally ran out of reasons to say “No.”
I wrote the last entry on my blog on February 29, 2016, and leapt off a cliff on March 1, 2016 by announcing Queen Esther’s Cupcakes to the world. A month later, I was selling at the Denton Community Market (and sold out on my first day), and have been baking almost daily ever since. Before I knew it, cupcakes turned to cake pops, unicorn cakes, and multi-tiered wedding cakes. In a home where cupcake wrappers, powdered sugar, and piping tips now abound, I’m living the greatest adventure of my life.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Entrepreneurship is rarely a smooth road. Before starting my business, my greatest struggle was worthiness–believing that I could take such an enormous risk and succeed! I thought back on countless opportunities that I passed up or missed entirely because my fear kept me from taking a chance. In fact, for me, fear has always been synonymous with regret. I have spent the better part of my life waiting for the “right time” to act, only to be disappointed when it never arrives; then working through the subsequent frustration with myself for wimping out AGAIN.
I also battled insecurities that my business and product wouldn’t be special or memorable to anyone. However, I decided that for once in my life, I wanted to know for certain what would happen if I took the chance; no matter the outcome. Queen Esther’s Cupcakes felt too important not to follow through–and for better or worse, I am eternally grateful that I finally took a chance on ME.
Now that I’m living it, the greatest challenge is working from 8:00 – 5:00 every day, then coming home to devote more full-time effort to my business. It’s been a struggle to strike a harmonious balance between work and cupcakes and still make time to exercise, eat real food (no frosting allowed for dinner), sleep at normal hours, and have a life.
Another significant challenge came in realizing, early on, that owning a small business did not automatically make me a business-minded person. I have zero background in business and lack the acumen and strategic, critical thinking skills that many shrewd business people possess. As such, I’ve tried to surround myself with people who DO have those skills and are great at what they do so that I can continue to be great at what I do.
Queen Esther’s Cupcakes – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Queen Esther’s Cupcakes is a home-based, black-owned cake and cupcake business in the heart of Denton, Texas. As Owner, Baker, and Queen of Queen Esther’s Cupcakes, I bake for all occasions: birthday parties, anniversaries, weddings, baby and bridal showers, holidays, and more. Cupcakes will always be my first love, but my cake skills are rapidly improving as people order more cake!
I specialize in creating beautiful, delicious, craveable cakes and cupcakes for every occasion. My customers recognize me for delivering a stunning product and elegant presentation every time, along with providing outstanding and intuitive customer service. I make it my mission to learn exactly what my customers want and help them fill in the blanks when they’re not sure what to ask or how to proceed. I take pride in my ability to connect with people and exceed their expectations in the process.
I am particularly proud of my involvement with a local ministry called Refuge for Women, which is a national, faith-based, residential aftercare program for female survivors of sexual exploitation and trafficking. Queen Esther’s Cupcakes donates a percentage of all proceeds to support their residents here in North Texas, and gets involved in other ways.
In addition to safe housing, job skills, and counseling, Refuge provides women with a chance to live a life that they never imagined and walk in healing, freedom, and confident wholeness. Residents never leave Refuge the same way they entered, and that inspires and energizes me to maximize the life I’ve been given. Long after Queen Esther’s Cupcakes is gone, I want to leave a legacy of believing in and supporting women. Refuge for Women’s incredible ministry is a tangible representation of grace, resilience, and what it means to live like Royalty, and I’m proud to champion them.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
During my brief unemployment, I had to revise all of my measures for success. I previously graded my success based on excellent academic achievements, work, and everything else that consumed my time. When those things were gone, it left me to find other sources of meaning and fulfillment, and I had to start from scratch.
Today, I define success as progress. I may not be where I’m going, but I’m not where I was! Every day, I learn something new or meet someone spectacular who inspires me to keep pushing. When I look at early photos of my cupcakes as compared to my current work, I’m so encouraged by my growth! I apply this definition universally in my life as it relates to my health, my relationships, and my work. I’m so excited to continue becoming!
- Cupcakes: $36.00 per dozen (bulk pricing available for large quantities)
- Website: www.QueenEsthersCupcakes.com
- Email: Esther@QueenEsthersCupcakes.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/queenestherscupcakes/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/QueenEsthersCupcakes/
Shaina Sheff, Rittles Protraits, Lauren Rushing, Indigo Bird Photography