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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
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
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
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.
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
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.
you recall having any "aha" moments?
JG- I remember at the beginning at
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.