#GirlBoss: The Celebration of Creative, Expressive, & Inspirational Women
So, this is different, but I feel like any opportunity for women to be recognized and celebrated is a good opportunity. I’ve decided to feature women (whom I may or may not know) who are doing great things in their lives. Women with spunk, great work ethic, creative minds, and passions. Specifically women who can offer insight and advice to other women who may find themselves in their shoes, or who are just curious about life and what it has to offer. I want to bring these women to the attention of anyone who happens to stumble across my blog, and shed some light on the greatness that they provide all around us.
Today I’m kicking it off with the self-made/self-taught cake boss, Chyna N. Chester of CAKE by Chyna.
Chyna is a wife, a mother of two gorgeous girls, and woman of numerous talents. She’s an artist in all forms, from dabbling in drawing, to creating and selling her own t-shirts and jewelry after college as a side hobby. Chyna studied fashion design at F.I.T. and became a pattern maker for the brand Jones New York. Life took an unexpected turn, and today it is safe to say she has mastered the art of creating custom cakes… and I’m not talking birthday sheet cakes. The intricate work and major attention to detail is what sets Chyna apart from other cake designers. You give her your vision and she easily makes it come to life and exceeds your expectations. The flavor, texture, and overall deliciousness of her cakes do not suffer in spite of her focus on shaping and molding her vision so that her cakes can come to life. She can pretty much whip up any flavor you throw at her and knock it out of the park. It is truly unbelievable that she never went to school for this. This talent just flows naturally from her mind to her hands, and the rest is history. You would think that juggling the jobs of stay at home mom, wife, and owning your own business while being the sole employee would take a toll on someone, but Chyna handles it with grace and ease. Her customer service is prompt & reliable, and she really makes you feel like you can leave everything up to her. I sat down with Chyna to ask her about jump starting her business, her journey of coming into her own as a young adult, and advice she would give to her younger self.
When and how did you start your venture into creating custom cakes?
I started out wanting to try my hand at event planning and designing, focusing on dessert table styling. This was back in 2010 when elaborate dessert tables were starting to become popular. About two months after I decided, okay this is something I want to do, I received a call from a family friend and she wanted a dessert table. She knew I had recently just threw my daughter a party and made everything on her dessert table so was under the impression that that’s actually what I was offering as part of the business, desserts, which it wasn’t. Yes I made my daughter’s desserts, but I wasn’t a legit baker or trying to become one. Let me preface that by saying I really had no choice, she has various food allergies so over the years I learned how to adjust recipes and make her treats that she could enjoy…so naturally I made her desserts. That’s actually how I started baking in the first place, wanting to make sure she had a 1st. birthday cake that she could eat. Now this person ordered cupcakes, cakes pops, and Rice Krispie treats for her dessert table and instead of saying no, I said okay. I just wanted to see if I could do it on top of the fact of not wanting to say no. I saw an opportunity and jumped on it. Shortly after that, I started receiving requests for cupcakes and cake pops then eventually cake, and it kind of just grew from there. I always say it was serendipity.
Women in their late teens and early twenties usually struggle with coming into their own, and worry about finding their purpose. Did you feel this way when you were at that spot in your life? Also, did you ever see yourself creating custom cakes for a living when you were in your early twenties?
What is one major piece of advice you would give to young women who are thinking about starting their own businesses?
Only one?!? Hmmmmmm, be intentionally and determinedly persistent!
Knowing all that you know now about life, what is one piece of advice you would give to twenty year old Chyna?
See, I don’t have any regrets in life, even the horrible things I’ve gone through have been the stepping stones that made up my “yellow brick road”. I unequivocally believe everything happens for a reason and you learn, and that’s experiencing life and adventures, and it just makes for an interesting journey.
Oh! one thing I wish I had done then was to speak up more and not be so shy, especially about what I can offer as far as my talents or “gifts”. I never wanted to come across as boastful, even now, but I do realize if you don’t let people know what you do how will they know. Not brag, but you sometimes have to big yourself up in the most humble way you can I guess, and if I’m being honest I still have an issue with this. I’m never good at promoting myself still, it’s sad, you can kind of tell from my Instagram. I can promote the heck out of someone else though. But yeah, that’s something I would have told 20 year old Chyna as well as 38 year old Chyna!