Million Dollar Cupcakes!

2 Oct

TOP GIRL of the month goes to Andra Hall

For Andra Hall, entrepreneurship was a matter of medical necessity. In 2004, her 1-year-old daughter underwent a string of surgeries to correct a severe case of sleep apnea. “I did major soul-searching to come up with something that would be flexible enough to let me be there when Camille needed me,” she recalls.

Settling on her longtime interest in baking, Hall created a business plan and by 2006, she and her husband, Curtis, refinanced their house to obtain the $40,000 they needed to launch CamiCakes Cupcakes (www.camicakes.com; 404-748-4288). The money allowed them to buy secondhand equipment, create marketing materials, and put down a security deposit on the Orange Park, Florida, space they would rent.

In 2008, another store opened in Jacksonville, Florida, and a third store the following year in Atlanta. CamiCakes, named for the couple’s daughter, generated $1.1 million in revenues in 2009 and anticipates $2 million by year-end. But Hall’s path to business ownership wasn’t all sweet.

With 18 cupcake flavors—the most popular being red velvet, sweet potato, and carrot cake—CamiCakes’ rapid growth was one of Hall’s greatest challenges.

The baking began each day at 6 a.m., and the doors were open to customers from 10:30 a.m. until 9 p.m.  When she opened the Georgia store, Hall drove the 350 miles between there and the Florida stores to oversee the baking and customer service in each store and handle all the paperwork. “I was just doing too much,” the 38-year-old recalls. “And then I got really, really sick and was down for more than two weeks.”

At that point, Hall knew she had to come up with a way to make sure each store could run without her constant attention. First, over the course of two months, she created a manual of operations so each store would have the same written standard operating procedures ranging from the recipes used to the steps to take if a register went down. “I’m more of a do er, so it was a challenge to have to stop and make sure everything was clearly documented for other people to understand,” Hall says.

Next, she chose one store to focus most of her energy on. Because Atlanta was the biggest market and the store there was the most profitable, Hall moved her family there and established it as CamiCakes’ headquarters. The third step, loosening the reins, was the hardest. Hall made the transition somewhat easier by hiring from within rather than seeking outsiders to manage the Florida stores. “I had faith that they could do the job,” she says.

Courtesy of BlackEnterprise.com

BLACK ENTERPRISE is the premier business, investing, and wealth-building resource for African Americans. Since 1970, BLACK ENTERPRISE has provided essential business information and advice to professionals, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and decision makers.

Black Enterprise is another one of the City Girl Business Club’s favorite magazines.

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