Thursday, June 23, 2011

Rockstar Business: Sweet Justice

Rockstar Business is an interview series featuring businesses that rock!

LaKeitha Daniels, Owner of Sweet Justice

Mocha Writer: What is Sweet Justice?
LaKeitha: Sweet Justice is a "cakery" that specializes in traditional and gourmet cakes and cupcakes made of the freshest ingredients and in fun and exciting combinations. Our cupcakes are custom-ordered and baked in small batches to preserve our quality and improve your cupcake experience!

MW: When and why did you start your business?
LaKeitha: I started my business in October of 2009. I had been practicing law for six years, and until the summer of 2009, was working at what many consider to be a "golden" job as in-house counsel at a Fortune 500 company. One day, after a year of layoffs (many executed by yours truly, unfortunately), my number came up. So, I took my severance package and went on a two week vacation to Spain. Maybe in my own private version of "Eat, Pray, Love," I came back with this renewed energy to get in the kitchen. So, I started cooking for free and taking it to friends. The response was so good [that] someone suggested I start baking as a business. And that's how Sweet Justice was born!
       From laywer to baker, do tell!

MW: Who do you cater to?
LaKeitha: I cater to anyone and everyone who loves a great tasting cupcake (or cake). We love doing custom designs for moms-to-be or brides and even kids' parties.

MW: How and when did you become interested in baking?
LaKeitha: When I was younger, my godmother used to bake with me all the time. I remember my first cake was a bunny rabbit covered in coconut for Easter! Also, my great aunt Dorothy is the cake lady (and matriarch) of our family. She sends pound cake to everyone for their birthdays every year, and she is 86! I grew up thinking, 'I want to be the cake lady one day!'
     So, growing up and in college, I would  bake when I was sad. Boyfriend made me sad, everyone had cookies. Got a bad grade, cupcakes all around. Eventually, as the years went by, I realized that when I baked (even out of sadness), it made other people HAPPY! So, I stopped baking only when I was sad and did it just to bring smiles to people's faces.

MW: What are your specialty items or flavors?
LaKeitha: Our signature flavor is Chocolate Covered Strawberry, which is a strawberry cake made with fresh strawberries and topped with Belgian White Chocolate. We also have your traditional red velvet, chocolate and vanilla, but our newest fun flavor is Peanut Butter & Jelly! It is awesome!

MW: What are some of your future goals?
LaKeitha: I'd like to open a brick-and-mortar where people can come and enjoy as little or as much of Sweet Justice as they would like! I also want to be a resource to other people who, like me, start out knowing absolutely NOTHING about starting a baking business. I'd also like to be the personal baker to the President of the United States (don't look like that! It's possible!).

MW: Who and what inspires you?
LaKeitha: People who strike out on their own and do what they love and become a huge success! I NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER wanted to be an entrepreneur. I always thought I would "work for the man" and just draw a check every two weeks. But, I was always in awe of those who worked for themselves and made a real business out of doing what they loved. So, now that I have totally shifted gears, I look at all the people around me who are starting financial businesses, bakeries, catering companies and more, and I am literally in awe of the talent that my colleagues have. I'm also inspired by the ability of these folks to step out on faith and go after their dreams. And I'm right behind them!

MW: What do you love most about owning your own business?
LaKeitha: Waking up to do what I love every day. If I have to wake up at 4 A.M. to start a major order, or go to bed at 3 A.M. after a long day, I know that whatever I sent out the door is going to make a customer happy and that I'm the one who reaps the benefit for all my hard work. Oh, and most of all, I LOVE my flexibility. I control my own schedule and can make decisions on how hard and how long I want to work each day. Being your own boss definitely is sweet (no pun intended).

MW: What is your favorite inspirational quote or saying?
LaKeitha: "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou

MW: What tips/advice would you give to someone who wants to start a business?
LaKeitha: First, don't hesitate, and JUST DO IT! If you have a great, novel idea or just something you are passionate about, jump into it! I'm not saying quit your good, full-time, benefit-having 9-5 gig. But, start planting seeds that can take root and grow months or years down the line.
     Second, find yourself a good support system. Whether it's friends or family, you will always need people you can trust to bounce ideas off and to help you look at things from different perspectives.
     Lastly, SAVE, SAVE, SAVE! Real talk, it is HARD to start a business with no money. If you know you want to start a business, save your pennies! Fortunately, when I started working years ago, I saved as much as I could out of each pay check, not knowing that one day, I would need to live on it while I started my business. Even if you didn't have the money saved up, figure out how to live on less now so that you can have more later. Cut down the cable, eat out less, streamline all excess spending. It is super hard (especially for a shopaholic like me), but when you see the fruits of your labor, it will all be worth it.

MW: How can people reach you?
                  Twitter: @MySweetJustice
                  Phone: (404) 362.7216
                  Fax: (404) 492.7153

Do you have a Rockstar business? You could be featured on Mocha Writes! Send me information about your business for consideration: jamiefleming [at] mochawriter [dot] com.

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