FAIRFIELD TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- It’s just a slight exaggeration to say that for any shape you can think of, Stephanie Mullins has probably made it into a cake pop.
The Fairfield Township resident founded and owns Cinfully Sweet, which offers online bakery catering services, especially treats for special events.
Since she started two years ago, she’s made cake pops in the shape of sushi, of mugs filled with beer and of owls.
For a woman graduating from nursing school, she made pops shaped like nurse’s uniforms. For a baby shower, she made elephant-shaped pops.
Many customers say the pops are “almost too pretty to eat,” she said. But they get eaten anyway.
How’d she get started?
She’s been baking for fun for about five years. Two years ago, a family friend asked her to bake treats for a bridal shower, which received rave reviews.
So she printed up business cards and created a website, cinfullysweet.com. A year ago, she exhibited her wares at a bridal show for the first time.
This fall, she became part of the LAUNCH class of startup owners at Bad Girl Ventures, a local accelerator for female-owned businesses.
How’s the business going?
She’s sold about $6,000 worth of goods this year, with another $4,000 expected from the events she’s scheduled through early next year.
She works part time on nights and weekends, while holding down a full-time job as an accountant at General Electric’s Global Operations Center Downtown.
She typically works four or five events per month. Clients might pay her just to deliver a couple hundred cake pops, or they might also pay to have her design treats according to a specific theme and to set up and take down displays.
Most of her business comes from word of mouth, she said, but she also posts pictures of her creations on Facebook and Instagram.
What’s her biggest obstacle to success?
Competition, said Susan LaBonte, who is Mullins’ mentor through Bad Girl Ventures. LaBonte owns ConnectionPoint, a local marketing consulting company.
“Basically, she’s a baker making treats and desserts. There are bakeries on every street corner, as well as in all the big-box grocery stores,” LaBonte said.
Since the treats are all handmade from Mullins’ own recipes, they are a bit more expensive than mass-produced goodies. So her challenge, LaBonte said, is to show potential customers what’s unique about them and why they should pay more for them.
“Once you see them, you know (why),” LaBonte said. “(The business) is very promising, if she can figure out the right marketing strategy.”
Mullins would like to make Cinfully Sweet her full-time job, but she needs more work and possibly some employees.
She’s looking at ways to grow the business -- for example, by offering baking-related equipment on the website, or by creating how-to videos.
She’s also making the rounds of local coffee shops, giving away samples and hoping to persuade the owners to retail some of her creations.
If the business continues to grow, she’d like to move her bakery from her home to rented, commercial space with multiple commercial ovens. She now can bake only 24 cupcakes at a time, she said, but that hasn’t stopped her from baking 500 for one wedding.
What’s the best part of owning this business?
It’s a good combination of her passions for crafting, event planning, entrepreneurship and serving others.
“I love being part of people’s special events,” Mullins said. “I want to be their baker for life.”