Real Stories: Gilda

Welcome to Real Stories, a brand new feature on the blog! I thought it would be great if we could all see what it’s like for ‘real’ people whose businesses are still growing as opposed to those who are at the top of their game already (much as we love those guys too).

Here’s how it works – once a week I’ll profile a real person with a real business. I’m getting all my volunteers to answer the same questions so we can get a feel for how different people in different countries and situations are doing things. I’ve got case studies of people from all over the world, with different levels of experience and different sizes of business.

Where you come in – I’d really like to build this feature into a community of support and help, so when you get to the bottom I ask you to please COMMENT on this post. Either send them a word of encouragement, make a helpful suggestion, or just say thanks for contributing. It’s very brave to volunteer for this sort of thing and I think we should show them all some love.

Today I’m chatting with Gilda from Jolirose Cake Shop

Tell us a little bit about the person behind the business: What city are you in? How old are you?

My name is Gilda Burke and I live in a very cute little village about 40 minutes north of NYC called Nyack, NY.  I’m originally from Miami (born and raised) and moved to the Northeast 11 years ago. I’m 39 ( I can’t believe I actually wrote 39!!!  Just the other day I was 23 and having an amazing time partying on South Beach.  😮  LOL)..  Nowadays, I have a great husband and two amazing, awesome, perfect little kiddies. My first born, Madison, who is 5 and very girly and Matthew (who we affectionately call Papo) who is 3 1/2 and loves angry birds and anything with wheels.  

One of Gilda’s early efforts


What’s the back story to your business? How did you get into this industry? If you don’t yet have a business, what are your business plans?

Well, lets see…  I started baking (from scratch) when I had to stay home from work for a couple of weeks to care for my babies who were sick.  Its a long story I’ll hashtag it for you.  #daycare #sick #earinfections #feverspikes #severalDrVisits

During the downtime when they were sleeping I would get very bored since I’m a  “on the go” kind of person and really can’t just sit around doing nothing. Somehow the thought of baking came to mind.. don’t know where it came from.  I believe it was Divine Intervention since I NEVER EVER had the desire to bake (or cook for that matter). And so, I started baking cupcakes and taking them to work after a while. People loved them and you know the story…  “OMG- soo good, you should start a business” yada yada  So I did! Jolirose Cupcakes was born in 2011. One thing led to another and someone asked for a custom cake. Holy crap! I was SCARED to death! But I love a challenge so I did it.  After that I hardly got anymore cupcake orders and after a while I ended up staying home full time.  It wasn’t a decision we made with the idea of solely growing the business, it was made so that I could be able to stay home with the kids.  Many things fell into place at the perfect time and I was lucky enough to realize that dream (staying home with my babies).   I continued working on my craft and taking advantage of the fact that I was home and had that bit of “extra time” (is there such a thing as extra time???) and here we are today.  Woot!!!

I went ahead and changed my business name to Jolirose Cake Shop around 8 months ago to actually match what I do most, Custom Cakes!  🙂 🙂

How do we find your business online?

My website is:
Facebook :
Instagram: @JoliroseCakeShop

Just for fun, how and where do you read the blog?
I actually read it as soon as I see it pop up on my newsfeed and since I’m a Facebook addict, I usually see it the minute you post it.. LOL  

Where are you hoping to get to with your business? What’s the big fat dream goal?

The immediate big fat dream goal is to have my very own boutique bake shop.  The vision I have is that it will be an elegant, cozy little place where I will have everything in white with touches of light pink and light teal.  I’ll be able to meet with my clients for tastings and consultations and have all my cool caking tools organized in one space.. very much NOT like what I’m working with now.. LOL

The future big dream goal is to have a large high end space where I have a team of amazing cake decorators and bakers working to produce wonderful cake art and pastries to sell to the public. I want to be the “IT” place to go to when you are thinking of the cake and favors for your parties.
*This goal is dependent on whether I will be in a good mental place to be able to open a retail store.. LOL  We shall see what happens.. 😉

At the moment you’re facing a bunch of different challenges – as we all do at certain times.  Tell us a little bit about those challenges. What would you say is your biggest challenge or limiting factor which is keeping you from getting to the big fat dream goal?

My challenges are not having a professional place to meet my clients, all that admin work, and the mommy guilt. I’m not sure that just one challenge is keeping me from my dream goal,  its definitely a mix of them all.
Okay so here’s the tough one – what are you doing (or have you already done) to get past or around that challenge?
As far as the meeting place, the clients have been really great about it.  I don’t get any push back about meeting at a Starbucks, thankfully.  Its more of a problem for me as this is not what I envision my brand to be. 🙁   I’m currently building up the courage to approach business owners who have the same look/feel for their businesses that I have for mine and are in the same overall party industry to see about renting a small corner to meet my clients and display a few of my cakes until I’m financially ready to open my own shop.  I’m hoping to get busier in the coming months and break into the wedding industry.  I was so excited to be asked to provide a cake for a wedding photo shoot which I’m hoping will be posted on a major wedding blog. I’ve started a local advertising campaign with a well known Parent magazine and participate in my local street fair which attracts over 25000 people. I am expecting that all these elements together will help me become busier and help me reach my goal so that I can start looking for a space and purchase equipment for my shop after a period of time of steady work flow.

You wrote a great article about the admin stuff which I am now implementing.  Its already helping me with this amazingly time consuming part of the business.  First and foremost, I’m starting to filter the communication methods down to one…  I get text messages, personal facebook messages, business Facebook messages as well as emails and website inquiries. Its soo overwhelming and you would think I’m getting 20 inquiries a week with how overwhelming it becomes for me.

And lastly, the mommy guilt.. this is one that I think won’t ever go away BUT.. the babies are starting school this year so I will get some time where I won’t feel so bad about working while they are both at home because I’ll be able to do most of it while they’re at school.  The other side of the mommy guilt issue is that I find myself rushing through my decorating and or working late while they’re asleep and anyone who knows me knows that this brain just does not function well after 10pm. :/  Now, don’t get me wrong, these babies are angels! Really!  They are soo close in age that they entertain eachother alot which allows me time to do what I need to do around here but I feel like I’m just not giving them the quality time they deserve.  I think my skills will only get better once I have dedicated time to do this job rather than my usual, self-imposed, rushed timeframe.

If I could give you the gift of an hour of time with any 3 people – cake decorators, business mentors, other business owners (anyone at all really) who you would love to get some mentoring from, who would those people be – and what would you ask them?  (As an example, you might want an hour with Mike McCarey to learn sculpture, an hour with Martha Stewart, an hour at the Callebaut chocolate school, an hour with Richard Branson and so on.)

Ooh this is a hard one! So the first person that comes to mind is Bruce Lee… I know its wayyyyy left field but I just love his outlook.. He was such a positive influence and I love what he stood for. When I need a little motivation I look him up..The second person is you!  Seriously! I’m not saying that just cause this is your blog.. I’m saying it because I would LOVE to pick your brain about the business side of this industry.  I think you are extremely knowledgable and I like that your straight forward. Plus, i just like talking business.. LOL  I think I’m half business/half decorator..  I love decorating cakes and the artistic part of this but I really love the challenge of business growth (as you have probably noticed with my emails to you.. lol)

And the last person that comes to mind would be Jacki Fanto (from Blissfully Sweet Cakes). I just want to know how in the world she comes up with her beautiful designs. I struggle so much with designing cakes that it would be great to find out what her thoughts are on the creative process. It takes me FOREVER to design a cake.

By the way, this was by far the most difficult question to answer.. 😉

Michelle: Hopefully you’ll meet me at CakeFest, and Bruce Lee I can’t do much about, but I’ve met Jacki and she’s is just a beautiful person. I admire her work enormously – I consider her an artist more than a cake maker.  Truly inspirational. 

Lastly – give me a challenge! How can I help you? What would you like me to write about that would be of help to you in specific? 

You’ve helped so much already in so many areas of this business. Lets see what I can come up with here.. Hmmm.

Well… how did you finally make the leap to hiring help and opening up a shop? Did you have a specific $ amount that you wanted to reach before you went ahead and did it? I would like to purchase my big $ equipment before I actually start looking for a shop so it doesn’t feel like such a financial hit but its soo hard to get the $$ saved because that money typically ends up being our vacation money and then thats where mommy guilt kicks in again!  Buy an oven or go to Disney?

Michelle: Technically that’s a bunch of questions so let me break it down a little.
I hired help before I had a shopfront – I had a friend willing to work one day a week in my little commercial kitchen (I had a kitchen before I had a shop.) I know quite a few home based businesses that hire people part time to work in their kitchen alongside them. So hiring help and getting the shop are not necessarily things you have to do together – you can hire first. I hired someone because I got overwhelmed and really felt like I could not get ahead unless I had some help. Financially, yes, I had to look at the money I was making and check if I could afford someone and if so, how to make the best use of their time so that their work was earning the business some money. Basically whoever I hired had to do enough work to essentially pay for themselves – does that make sense?

I agree that it’s a good idea to start making purchases slowly over time, rather than have to suddenly come up with tens of thousands of dollars. I would not purchase equipment though, because you don’t know what your needs are or what the space will be. What if you buy a huge oven but it doesn’t fit in the door? Instead I’d open a savings account with as high an interest rate as you can get. Start socking away money regularly into there – whatever you can handle, even if it’s $50/week. I do this in my personal life – as soon as our salaries go into the account, there is an automatic withdrawal to a savings account. I don’t even really ‘feel’ that money coming out because it just happens regularly and I do not factor it into my hosuehold budgeting. Also, when you make profit from current orders, take a bit of that money and add it to the savings account.

As for Disney versus oven – I’d choose Disney. Those kids won’t be little forever…and as long as you’ve got a savings plan set up, you can go on vacation but still be saving for the oven. It doesn’t need to be either/or, it needs to be planning to do both. 

Okay readers – over to you! Please comment below with some love, suggestions, help, sympathy, (or whatever you’ve got) for Gilda. 

We’re in this together.

2 comments on “Real Stories: Gilda

  1. Hi Gilda, I love cake and business too! I also have a home based business and your story is encouraging, some of the same struggles. My question is this: What is your weekly goal? Is it defined by $ or # of cakes? I guess I’m wondering how much is too much to try to do from home?

  2. I really loved you have got your goals so clear, i think ihave never had them that clear. But perhaps if i write them down, it well happen.

    Something inside these writings tell me, your goals will arrive perfectly on a nice timing. :o)

    Wish you lots of success. Cheers!

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