With an art background as a professional painter, Kellie Velasquez utilizes her creative skills to craft luxury wedding cakes and artfully inspired desserts. Her creations showcase her detail-oriented style as seen in her signature handmade sugar flowers. We chat with Kellie about how she transitioned her side hustle into a full time business, how to find and serve your niche audience, and how she’s built a successful luxury biz through her branding and high quality designs.
1. How did you get started in your industry? What led to your passion for your career?
When I was a little girl nothing caught my interest, but baking. My mom was a wonderful baker around the holidays and she always gave me the opportunity to help her. I loved creating something from scratch, the creative process, and working with my hands. Growing up I was always watching baking competitions on Food Network, reading cookbooks, and asking my mom to try new recipes.
As soon as I was old enough to find a job, I landed a spot at a catering company and started my career. From there I worked at a few more local restaurants before heading to The Culinary Institute of America for my AOS in Baking & Pastry Arts.
After graduating I worked full time as a Pastry Chef and launched my business, Palette Cakes, on the side. I did this for a few years and my business started to pick up speed so I was able to dedicate myself full time to my craft.
2. What were some of the bigger challenges you experienced in getting started?
I definitely knew how to bake, but the rest? I was pretty clueless on how to start a business, market myself, and grow. Finding your niche, owning it, and legally running a business properly is something that's challenging, but so important to learn!
I spent a lot of time picking other business owner's brains, learning from the bosses I had while working as a Pastry Chef, observing businesses that I admired, and I also had to learn the hard way (failing miserably) on several occasions.
3. How has your life changed now that you’re pursuing your passion and living your dream?
It's truly the most rewarding thing that can happen in life. It's definitely challenging and frustrating at times, but to make something of your own and to love what you get to do each day is truly special. There's a lot of work to be done, heavy deadlines, and customers to please, but honestly I'm so grateful I get to wake up and do this.
4. What’s your favorite part about owning your own business/your career?
Being able to do what I love and knowing that I built Palette Cakes from nothing, but a dream. It's great to know your future is in your hands and that you can set the rules/goals.
5. What does supporting women-owned businesses look like to you?
Shopping women-owned, sharing their stories and products, and creating a space for women to grow and learn from one another. It's so important to share knowledge, talk about the hardships together, and celebrate the wins. The more we support one another, the more we inspire and create a pathway to more women-owned businesses.
6. How has your brand/packaging/website changed or improved your business?
Everything from your logo, to your packaging, to your website sets the tone of your business. I sell luxury cakes and it's important that my branding reflects that. When someone picks up an order, the box needs to look high quality to represent the level of product inside. When someone clicks on my website to inquire about a wedding cake, my artistic ability needs to show to pull the customer in and build trust. When someone sees my logo, they need to understand what it is that I sell. Choosing the correct colors, images, and materials increases sales leads, helps explain what it is that you do, and who you are.
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