Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Simply Cupcakes of Naples: Living Life, One Cupcake at a Time

Simply Cupcakes' creations

I love success stories, which are usually the result of following a passion even when the odds are against you, and so when I discovered the successful Simply Cupcakes in Naples, Florida, I was curious as to who was behind it.
The woman behind this tasty business with four locations in Southwest Florida and soon to be a franchise, is Joanne Glasgow, supported by her husband Ken.
Joanne gracefully accepted to be interviewed for Success Diaries, to share her story and inspire other women entrepreneurs:

LCL- When and why did you decide to open Simply Cupcakes?
 JG- Soon after we moved to Florida I realized that although the cupcake craze was sweeping the nation it had not yet come to Southwest Florida.  Coming from a family of Italian cooks and bakers, I had a love of baking and I decided to test my cupcakes at the Third St. Farmer's Market in Naples in October 2006 where the response was immediate.

LCL- Were you afraid of making a career change?
JG- I really didn't make a career change in the traditional way. I had been a Pediatric Registered Nurse for over 30 years but when we moved to Florida in 2003, I had already retired from Nursing. When I was a nurse in Rochester, NY I helped a friend of mine part time in her dessert catering business. This satisfied my passion for baking at that time and ultimately gave me the courage to make a business out of it. At the time I started Simply Cupcakes, I was 60, which is the age when most people think about cutting back.

Joanne, loving her work
LCL- What were the biggest stumbling blocks?
JG- My biggest stumbling block was my lack of business and retail experience. It's one thing to bake a cupcake but another to sell it. Since the cupcake industry was young, there were few resources to turn to for guidance, so my business never really had a plan. Of course, I started my business at one of the worst times in the economic history of our country. At a time when businesses were closing, I was starting. Loans for new businesses did not exist

LCL- What are the greatest rewards?
JG- There is no greater reward than to have an idea and see it become a reality. In the cupcake business I get rewarded every day with compliments from our customers. [My husband] Ken and I have also had the satisfaction of creating a Simply Cupcakes training program to help others start their own cupcake business.

LCL- Who have been your best supporters?
JG- My husband Ken has been with me every step of the way behind the scenes although he loves to wait on the customers and schmooze with them. He has taken over the marketing of our business and has successfully created a brand with little or no paid advertising. I also have the support of my brother and sister in law and our children who are in awe of the fact that "mom" is a successful businesswoman.

Pink delight
LCL- How do you promote yourself?
JG- Although we had little knowledge of social media, we taught ourselves to use Facebook and now have over 12,000 fans on the Simply Cupcakes Facebook Page. We have been fortunate to have many articles written about us because there is little good news these days and mine is a "feel good" story. Mainly, we have used word of mouth. Our business plan was to get people to our store (which is in an out of the way location) and get a cupcake in their mouth. We have enough confidence in our product to know what the reaction will be. If we sell a dozen cupcakes, they go into a dozen mouths and hopefully we will have a dozen new customers.

LCL- Do you recall having any "aha" moments?
JG- I remember at the beginning at the Farmer‘s Market, when we sold a Key Lime cupcake to a customer and as he walked away he took a bite and yelled "OH MY GOD ! " It was the first sign that we had something good. The turning point for us was when we started the business without a store and just had a website. We took orders for cupcakes online and delivered them to customers in Naples. By the time we opened the store, we had over 300 customers already. We have been told that this was the reverse of traditional thinking. Most businesses open a store and then put up a website. We put up a website and then opened our store.   

LCL- What would you say to other women who would like to follow in your steps?
JG- I would tell them what we tell every person we train: "Unless you have a passion for baking, find something else to do.” Make sure that the passion you have today will still be there a year from now when you have a large order to fill and your mixer breaks down". I would also tell them to bake every cupcake as though your reputation depends on it, because it does. We are scratch bakers, using fresh eggs and butter. We don’t take shortcuts or use mixes. We bake only in small batches and our customers can tell the difference. 

Joanne and Ken, the team behind the dream
Some of Simply Cupcakes´ and the Glasgow’s many noteworthy accomplishments:

·      The business was started with borrowed money three years ago, and they paid it all back with interest in less than two years. They now operate a debt-free business.
·      Joanne has trained 36 locations nationwide in 24 months, to open their own Simply Cupcakes on a License Agreement from California to Puerto Rico. 
·      Ships Key Lime and Red Velvet bundt cakes worldwide including to the troops in Afghanistan and Kuwait.
·      Donates cupcakes to many worthwhile local causes including cupcakes for the homeless on almost a weekly basis.

If you enjoy this blog follow me on Facebook or Twitter. Read my articles on Mamiverse.
Diario del Éxito (Success Diaries) will be published in book form in February 2012 by ediciones Obelisco.To read about my books:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Her Memorial Inspires me to Run Faster, Live more Intensely

I often run by the memorial you can see in the picture. It’s for a girl who was hit by a car in 1996. She was 12 when she died.

When I got home after taking the picture, a few months ago, I Googled her name. I found she was hit by a driver who ran a red light. Alycia died on the spot and her friend, of the same age, was severely injured, but he lived. They were on the way back from doing homework at a friend’s house.

Apparently the driver did some time, but was eventually released. I read the testimonies of the friends who were with her that night and the expressions of pain of her parents. That night I had a hard time falling asleep.

Every time I run by her memorial by the sidewalk next to the intersection where she was run over, I salute Alycia. I think of her parents and her friend. I think of my kids. I think about life.

When I run by her memorial I become aware of my feet hitting the ground and, even if I’m tired, even if it’s sweltering hot, I feel good. I’m alive, my kids are healthy and my loved ones are fine. I hope this lasts, but you just never know, and she reminds me of that. We have to squeeze the juice out of life while it lasts.

During the rest of my run, I make a mental gratitude list. And even if I feel like slowing down or walking, I don’t. I keep on running because Alycia can’t. In her honor, I enjoy every minute of my journey. She’s my reality check. RIP.   

If you enjoy this blog follow me on Facebook or Twitter. Read my articles on Mamiverse.
Diario del Éxito (Success Diaries) will be published in book form in February 2012 by ediciones Obelisco.To read about my books:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

4 Strong Latina Moms that Inspire

As much as I enjoy being recognized for my work, it is a far greater pleasure to be able to showcase other strong, creative and determined women. If I’m having an out of sorts day, knowing I made someone else’s, through something I wrote about them, is a better mood enhancer than any happy pill.

In Mamiverse, the place for Latina moms, you can read my pieces on some of the special women I’m fortunate to be able to shine the lights on. They have all overcome odds in one way or another, and turned a challenge into an opportunity to grow and pursue their dreams. Thank you for being such an inspiration, and keep on keeping on!

While most people complain over petty things, Eliana makes being the mom of two children with Down syndrome seem easy. I’ve never heard her complain about trips to the hospital or having to juggle work and motherhood.

Lisana’s jewelry is a reflection of who she is and where she’s from. She enrolled in Law school to appease her family but eventually followed her dream. It’s not easy to go against the grain, especially when you have kids to tend to.

Aymee literally lost it all to the recession: marriage, business, money, investments, her house … And yet she is an upbeat mom who rebuilds her life every single day. She is a doer, and she’s doing it her way, with her Wacky Cookie company. She involves her son in all she does. 

Monica wanted to stay home with her kids, but she also wanted to work. She used her degree in Business Administration to manage her home business. For a few years now, she’s been designing and selling handbags she handcrafts herself, at Tuffcooki. A creative go-getter with two small tots who make her day, every day. 

If you enjoy this blog follow me on Facebook or Twitter. Read my articles on Mamiverse.
Diario del Éxito (Success Diaries) will be published in book form late in 2011 by ediciones Obelisco.To read about my books:

Thursday, October 6, 2011

5 Steve Job Quotes that Impacted My Life

I had a different blog post in mind for today, but yesterday Steve Jobs died. I cried. Whether he was philanthropist or not, had affairs or children out of wedlock - he stayed true to his vision, which is something few people do. There are the complainers and blamers, and there are the doers and shakers. I like to think I belong to the second group. He certainly did. I'm glad he lived to see his Vision come true. 

I can’t say anything he didn’t say better, so in tribute to The Visionary of our times, here are some of his best quotes on life. 

"For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."

"You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life."

"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything -- all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. ... Stay hungry. Stay foolish."

“I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.”
[NBC Nightly News, May 2006]

"Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes ... the ones who see things differently -- they're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. ... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things. ... They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do."
[Apple’s 1997 Think Different Campaign]

I may not be a visionary as he was, but I’ve followed my calling for the past twenty years, as a writer and a communicator, despite those who told me it wouldn’t pay the bills and that I needed to get a “real” job. I´m glad I didn´t listen. 

I’m a misfit, I’m a crazy one, a rebel. Writing is paying the bills, although I don´t do it for the money. Writing is my passion. It gives me the sense that I could die feeling I made a difference, however small. At least in that sense, so far I´ve life on my own terms, and I intend to keep it that way. 

RIP Steve Jobs. 

If you enjoy this blog follow me on Facebook or Twitter. Read my articles on Mamiverse.
Diario del Éxito (Success Diaries) will be published in book form late in 2011 by ediciones Obelisco.To read about my books: