Moving a Business from Chicago to DSM During the Pandemic
During the pandemic, my husband and I were living in the west side of Chicago. With everything that was going on, we decided that a smaller city would be safer, make more economic sense, and would be easier to grow my business, Euphoria Cakes. My husband is Hawaiian, and when posing the question of where we should reside next to a group he belongs to on Facebook, overwhelmingly the Hawaiians responded with Des Moines, IA. We could not believe it, but they convinced us to give it a shot. After a quick visit over Labor Day, we knew this place could be our new home and made the move the day after Thanksgiving.
From Watch Repair to Cake Creation
Back in Colombia, my family owned a textiles company in the heart of Cali. I grew up in that business and even taught classes using the things we sold in the store. Unfortunately, we were forced to leave and seek asylum in the United States. We had family in Florida, so as we applied for citizenship, I got a job at a FastFix kiosk at a mall in West Palm and I really enjoyed what I was doing. I ended up being the first FastFix kiosk in the country to do over $1 million in sales. Eventually, I was recruited by someone at Tourneau, a luxury watch company with locations across the globe, and I had the opportunity to learn and grow with them.
My first move with them was to Las Vegas. I was an assistant manager and taught the new techs how to polish and do minor repairs. Shortly after meeting my now husband, I was given an opportunity to be the service manager in a brand-new store in Los Angeles. Even though we had just met, we moved to a tiny apartment in Reseda together. In a short while, I came to realize that this new store was not for me and, after eight years with Tourneau, I left for a similar position at Feldmar Watch Co. in Beverly Hills. I found myself in an amazing job with good people, working in a store where run-ins with celebrities were a weekly occurrence. It was there that I started making cakes for my co-workers and their families. I discovered a passion for creating amazing cakes and sweet treats for people to enjoy, so much so that my husband pushed me to pursue it as a real career.
My husband and I decided to move to Chicago so I could attend The French Pastry School. I ended up learning techniques there and at the Wilton School of Cake Decorating and Confectionery Art, an hour outside the city. It was about the second month of the pandemic where we came up with the idea of “Quarantine Cupcakes.” It was a box of four unique cupcakes for $10 that we advertised through social media and would deliver to our neighbors. We came up with the name “Migajas de Aloha” which is a combination of Spanish and Hawaiian that means “Crumbs of Love” and started a Facebook page. We later changed the name because it was hard to say, and no one knew what it meant.
Growing the Business in 2020
During the lockdown, social media became the main tool we used to get the word out. My husband had some experience with advertising on social media, so we gave it a shot. In the first couple of weeks, we only sold a few boxes. I was a little discouraged, but it was a pandemic after all, and my husband said we should keep at it. After about a month, we were selling about 15 boxes a week, but requests for cakes started coming in. After a few cakes were on social media, more cake orders started coming in. What we found with Euphoria Cakes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic is that people never stopped celebrating.
One of the hardest things about moving to DSM was leaving my customers in Chicago. Having their support not only as a new business, but during a pandemic, is something I will always be grateful for. However, In DSM, the amount of community and support here reminds me of being back home in Colombia with my family. After my home passed the inspection and I got my business license, we started like we did in Chicago with advertising. We did not need to advertise for long though. People in DSM are serious about their food, and one of the biggest contributions to my success here has been word of mouth and the food blogs on social media. After only a month, I have more work than I can handle and am already looking to expand here.
Nonstop Learning Within Your Industry
When I think of growing Euphoria Cakes in DSM, my goal is to keep learning and serve my community. How to conduct business, market, present your product and list your pricing are constantly changing. You can’t get stuck in your comfort zone and must continue to innovate and keep up with the trends. I’ve found following other decorators on social media to be helpful, as well as listening to podcasts. Janelle Copeland’s PUSH Podcast helps entrepreneurs like myself, while Camilo Murcia, an architect-turned-cake artist who created a heat-resistant buttercream recipe that’s perfect for humid climates, has made it easier for me to prepare the perfect cake for clients this summer.
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