When you have a high-stress career, everyone tells you need to have an outlet for that stress. And I definitely had a high-stress career. I previously was a national spokesperson for AAA. I frequently was on the road for various events or conferences. It wasn’t uncommon for me to get a phone call one day at the office and be hopping a plane to New York City to be make an appearance on the Today Show, Good Morning America or The Early Show the next morning. It could definitely be a high-stress career at times.
Sometime in 2008, I found my outlet in baking. I’ve always been a creative person and baking allowed me to create something delicious and put my own unique twist on it. I rarely would eat what I made other than sampling for quality control. So I’d create something and bring it into the office. It started as an occasional treat and worked up to almost a weekly or bi-weekly event. After a few months of this, coworkers from throughout the building of 700 began seeking out my creations when they would appear. That’s when everyone started to say, “you should really be charging for this,” and “when are you going to open a bakery?”
Then one day in September 2011 I lost my job with AAA, and I realized the excuse of “I don’t have time” didn’t really hold water anymore. So, I used my marketing communications skills that I had honed over the years for other companies for myself. I developed a logo and designed a little facebook page and invited my local friends to it.
My first client was a pro bono. I donated goodies tagged with my new logo and facebook page to a bake sale at First United Methodist Church Port Orange’s Fall Festival. They sold out immediately, and calls for more soon came. That’s how Christie’s Creations was born.
What was my darkest night?
My darkest night was in the morning. To get my name out there, I donated a variety of custom cake pops and candies to a Fall Festival bake sale. I was up half the night making them, wrapping individually and tying on Christie’s Creations tags. When I delivered them, I found the bake sale booth was moved from inside (where it was air conditioned) to outside in the fall Florida heat. In an instant, I pictured all my delicate chocolate work melting into blobs of individually wrapped gooey mess with a Christie’s Creations tag. This was supposed to be my coming out party?
A staffer jumped in to save the day, getting dry ice and creating a cooled display system. Once the Fall Festival opened, Christie’s Creations began to quickly sell out.
What was my AHA! Moment ?
When I first started making baking creations for people, I did mainly cake pops and cupcakes. Then I was approached to do a birthday cake for a pair of cousins turning 16 and 13. They were both into music, and they asked if I could do a Fender Stratocaster in purple. I said yes, and prayed I could actually pull it off. And when I did, and it looked quite good, I realized I was much better at cake decorating than I ever gave myself credit. So I started pushing myself with more complex cakes and designs. Today I continue to seek new challenges to see just how far I can go.
Why does the world need my business?
I’m practical. I run a cold-night homeless shelter. I volunteer with student programs. I frequently give my time to causes that, honestly, the world needs more than pretty cakes. That may be the worst thing for an entrepreneur to say, but I believe in honesty.
I also believe some have been blessed with more things than others. And while I believe we should share what we’ve been given, there’s also nothing wrong with enjoying it.
There’s nothing wrong with seeing a 3 year old’s face light up at her birthday cake that’s the exact crazy design she described to her father. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating a new child or recent grad.
We should celebrate these moments in life, and if I can make that celebration sweeter, then I’m happy.
Christie Hyde is a PR Professional who started her fledgling cottage-industry baking business in Daytona Beach in late 2011 when she lost her job at a large company. Visit on facebook: Christie’s Creations. You can also connect with Christie on twitter: @ChristieSays on Twitter.
Entrepreneur of the Month is an essay based contest. A panel of judges rate each submission, and elect an entrepreneur to be featured in the coming month. To enter, write a short free-style essay and answer three questions to enter the contest. The winners will be featured as “Entrepreneur of the Month” on this website, brought tremendous social media attention through multiple facebook, twitter, linkedin, google+ properties, and recognized at the next Entrepreneur Night event. To enter the contest, Submit Your Essay for Entrepreneur of the Month.