Building My Brand

“Oh my God. I just started a business. I have no idea how to run a business. What have I gotten myself into?”

This is exactly what I said to myself when I started my small baking business a year and a half ago. What the hell have I done? How am I going to manage this? Am I breaking even? I don’t know. Because I have no idea what I’m doing.

Cooking and baking always came natural to me. I used to bake all the time when I was younger. Then I discovered boys and makeup and well, fuck baking that pie.

Picture it, the year 2011 and I decided to host Christmas dinner. But what am I going to make for dessert? I chose to make a chocolate cheesecake. Found the recipe in a Kraft Food magazine. I made it and it was perfect. I was proud. I was like yes, I got this.

In 2013, I made my friend a molten chocolate cupcake. I got real fancy with it and put chocolate shavings on top and posted it to Instagram.

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Someone commented and asked if I sold them and I was like, nah. I do this for fun.

The very next day, I took the remainder of these cupcakes and some vanilla ones to a Super Bowl party and was asked the same question. “Do you sell these?” Again, I answered no, but in my mind I was like, shooootttt I need to get my hustle on!

I had to determine what would set me apart from the other bakeries around. Since I was small and home based, I decided to just specialize in made to order goods. I make on demand, just allow me 48 hours to prepare your order. If you think of a flavor, I can make it for you. If you want something special for a birthday or any event, I will make it for you and if I can’t I won’t bullshit you about it.

I started making cupcakes, cakes and cookies, all from scratch and mixed by hand, and posting them to my Instagram account. Then I had to find a name for my business that wasn’t corny or pretentious. I remembered that my old coworker would call me Tia Coco. I had no idea why she called me that, but it was fake fancy like me, so I went with that name for my business.

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After posting enough pictures to my Instagram page, I got a little bit of a buzz from some of my friends. I would just make cupcakes and take them to local businesses or save them for my friends so they wouldn’t go to waste. I was just self promoting myself so that one person would like what they had and make an order.

Snickerdoodle Cupcake

Snickerdoodle Cupcake

I honestly cannot tell you when my business took off, but it did. And I was overwhelmed, yet thankful. I didn’t know how to run my business, keep track of the money I made, if I was running a trap house. Nothing. But I had faith and I kept going.

June 2013, a local boutique that I would take my extra cupcakes to offered me the opportunity to do a cupcake bar. I was so nervous and was like please let these people like my cupcakes.

At my first cupcake bar at Jeanté, summer of 213

At my first cupcake bar at Jeanté, summer of 2013

Well the customers did and I was contracted to do all the dessert bars at that boutique for the rest of the year. People would be so excited to see what flavors I would come up with next. That made me feel so good. Like I had finally found what I was good at.

Black and White Cupcake (chocolate cupcake, white chocolate icing)

Black and White Cupcake (chocolate cupcake, white chocolate icing)

As always in every love story, there must be an interruption. About a year ago I almost quit because i was financially drained. As I stated, I had no idea how to run a business. I had to reevaluate my business, how I took orders, my book keeping, the value of my products and had to stop giving out the homegirl discount. Making these changes worked and I continued on.

Everyone has a special something that sets them apart. Find what you love to do and make it a hobby. That hobby may turn into something profitable or just give you an escape from life.

I never thought in a million years that making a chocolate molten cupcake for my friend and posting it on Instagram would result in me having a booming business.

I am very proud of my business and one day hope to open my own bakery or just have someone lurk my Instagram page and put me on. I think I’ve worked hard enough for that small break!

Cake Pops

Cake Pops

*Visit my business IG page, tiacococupcakes, to see more pictures of my goodies.*

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6 thoughts on “Building My Brand

  1. Dani James says:

    I love this blog post Tiora! It is real! I think people need to know the “story behind the business,” especially small businesses. Small businesses helps this economy thrive. I hope to one day start my own business with my nail passion. Thanks so much for sharing this! 😘

  2. Lovely story. I’m in the beginning stages of planning a business making sweets. So far it’s been a year of imaging it but with encouragement from people I think I’ll try.

    I love to hear stories like yours! It’s very inspiring.
    I found picking a name difficult to. Lol. Xx

  3. April Rogers Nelson says:

    Tiora, I’m just now getting around to reading this, and let me just say that I AM PROUD OF YOU! All of your hard work and dedication has paid off. And you deserve all the blessings coming your way!!
    And, any way that I can help with supporting you, you know that I will!! 🙂
    Pass me some of your fancy business cards/flyers and I will get them in some local stores here in Conway!!
    Proud of you, lady! 😘
    Congratulations to you boo!

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