Meet Jewels Johnson, founder of Sugar Plum Cake Company
, a web-based custom order bakery with four employees that specializes in creating delectable goodies from scratch.
How did you come to be an entrepreneur?
I believe you are born with the entrepreneurial spirit. I come from a family of entrepreneurs and I grew up watching my parents put in countless hours building their own businesses. Sometimes they would fail, but mostly they celebrated successes.
My mom used to say, “The only way to make money in this country is to work for yourself.” This statement was usually followed by a reminder from my step-dad that, “Being an entrepreneur is a risk, and only entrepreneurs are just crazy enough to risk it all and gamble on their own success.”
I always knew that I would end up owning a business; I just did not know that it would entail baking. As inventor and entrepreneur Lori Greiner has said, “Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week.”
Why did you start Sugar Plum Cake Company?
When I founded Sugar Plum Cake Company, I was a full-time high school educator. Prior to that, I was an event director and worked 80-plus hour weeks. When I became an educator, I found myself with a lot of extra time on my hands.
In 2009, I founded Events á la Carte, offering á la carte event services to those in need of a little assistance without over extending their event budgets. In the process of growing my client base, I would post photos of cakes, candy and dessert buffets from different events.
People began emailing me about ordering baked goods. So in April 2011, I changed the name to Sugar Plum Cake Company. The growth of the business has been substantial and it is solely due to word of mouth and social media. We currently have over 700 clients, with over 400 loyal repeat clients.
We’re introducing our Devour! baking mix line at the Fabulous Food Show this weekend.
Do you have a sweet tooth?
Not really. I am more interested in flavor pairings and balance in food. However, growing up I was taught two important things about sweets by my Gramma, who left me a 1937 KitchenAid mixer and her recipe box: Always eat dessert first and make sure dessert is the best part of any meal.
Do you still use your 1937 KitchenAid mixer?
Yes! I use it as a backup or if we have a busy weekend. It is used alongside the 2010 model. All of the original parts are still in excellent working condition and I am convinced that the 1937 model will never die!
What motivates you to go into work each day?
Having the ability to provide excellent service and an excellent product to really wow a client is my key motivation. I love Saturdays, our busiest delivery day. Showing up with the client’s order and seeing the look of awe and delight on the face of the recipient is always my favorite part of what we do.
What advice would you give to someone starting a company in Cleveland?
Cleveland is a great place to start a business. There is opportunity for growth and the cost of doing business is less here than in other cities. There is also a wide-spread culture of supporting local businesses here in Cleveland. I would highly recommend finding support, sharing ideas with other entrepreneurs and using the resources that are available at little to no cost, such as the Small Business Development Center
, The Cleveland Culinary Launch Kitchen
Who is your role model and why?
My parents are my role models in business and in life. Their ability to juggle their own personal and social commitments, growing several businesses and always finding time to be a supportive, caring parent is astounding to me. When I was little, my parents taught me how to try my hardest, learn from failure, overcome obstacles on my own and celebrate well-earned successes.