Friday August 27, 2021
If you're wondering how to start a business when you don't know what to do, Luis Arias of CakeMakersStudio has some advice for you.
I'm standing in a kitchen
Where Luis Arias is delicately massaging sheets of perfectly chilled, sculpted sugar onto a layer of finely baked white chocolate cake laid out in the form of the Millennium Falcon. His pace is deliberate and methodical, he's focused and calm. He's placing every piece, sculpted well in advance, onto the siding of the Falcon with no guide or video tuturial pulled up in front of him. He sets each piece in place like he knows exactly where it goes.
"Do you get a lot of Start Wars requests?" I ask.
"Since the movies, sure" he laughs, "We get all kinds of stuff."
It's true. Luis Cake Studio is a front room display of (fully edible) inverted wedding cakes, a crystalline matrix of cool blue sugar delicately embroidered into the side of a tall layer cake. Edible (edible!) Roses sit nestled feet from a full-size torso-up model of The Predator made entirely out of cake.
As a Designer,
Luis got his start in the VFX industry, he worked on a few projects while working with his wife to find additional business to fill the time. His wife had an aptitude for baking and her own business, and Luis suggested working some fun designs into her cake business. Before they knew it, they were winning awards at cake decorating events and starting a full-scale business right out of their home.
"We started baking cakes right out of our home, it was scary signing the lease on our building." Luis tells me, "He wanted a five year lease, I asked 'can you do six months'?".
Luis and his wife have been in their brick-and-mortar location for years now, but it was all up in the air at first.
We had a health inspector come, and he runs a full inspection on the building, our appliances. He signs off and says 'okay, you are approved to open for business', but we have zero inventory, zero.
The first month was a hasty job of ordering sodas and beverages, kit and inventory to deliver to customers.
You have to remember that it was never just you. It was working with our vendors who said 'you guys are just starting out, I can front you a month', 'I can roll that fee for you, I can sign a shortened lease because I like your business. I had to just say 'oh my god, thank you so much'.
I often maintain that starting a business is expensive, and it's true. In Luis case finding the real-estate on which his business now resides, centrally located. Ordering inventory and stock, paying his support and staff (even in a family business). It's always to remember the support is there but there are no shortcuts.
The Only Way to Start a Business
As we start nearing the end of our time together I ask Luis the one question I ask every business owner:
What would be your advice to someone who was thinking about starting a business? - I ask.
Luis looks me right in the eye. "Just do it." He says. He's deadpan sincere.
You're going to learn more from doing it than any book or video will ever teach you. Even if you fail. Failing is fine, it's good. You will try again and you will succeed.
There are plenty of things that can go wrong in business, should that stop you from pursuing yours? Of course not. I have always maintained that being a business owner has been the most freeing and liberating experience of my life. I started my first true business over 20 years ago and since starting I have never sought to return to a regular day job.
Luis tells me that starting over is hardly the worst thing that can happen to you. That second journey comes with experience you only could have gotten from the first. No amount of study before hand will fill in the gaps.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Luis Arias and the perspective and knowledge he brings to his company is truly something to take in. He's a man of both talent and knowledge, and he has applied them to what I hope will bring him much continued and future success.
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