This is the latest entry in a series called Who Owns That. We ask readers on our LinkedIn group to identify their favourite small businesses from across Canada, and we track down the owners so they can tell us their stories.
Introducing Jane Pho, the co-owner of Dolled Up Cupcakes, based in Mississauga, Ont. She started the bakery with Michael Lee in 2013.
1. Let's start with the basics. Can you briefly describe your business, including when it was founded, what it does, and where you operate?
Dolled Up Cupcakes is a family operated bakery based in Mississauga, Ont., which opened its doors early February of 2013.
We offer daily baked cupcakes and other sweet treats, like mini cupcakes, cake pops, push pops and custom cakes – using whole fresh ingredients on site. Dolled Up Cupcakes is a completely nut– and peanut-free bakery that produces more than just gourmet cupcakes. Pre-orders for gluten, dairy and egg free options are also available.
2. What inspired you to be an entrepreneur and to branch out on your own with this idea?
Mike and I had extensive corporate experiences. After more than ten years, we felt the urge to start our own business and drive the business in the way they saw fit. We've always wanted to have our own business, but weren't sure what it would look like. With the passion for baking and, with the lack of quality baked products in the west end of GTA, we felt there was an opportunity to introduce the chic, sophisticated and fun cupcake experience to the suburbs.
3. Who are your typical customers, and how do they find you?
Our customers range quite a bit: From parents looking for treats for their kids special occasions, couples planning their weddings to teenagers looking for creative ideas for 'promposals.' We also deal with event planners who organize events for corporate or personal functions.
People find us on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Instagram has also been a tremendous tool for us. We've found that social media is the best way to get our name and product out to the public for small business such as ourselves that have limited marketing budgets.
But there's no better advertisement than a referral from a friend or family member who's already tried our products.
4. What are the roles of you and your co-founder in the business? Do you have any employees?
In our previous corporate experience, I managed the customers and administration, while Mike managed the production side of things. With this business, our roles have reversed. I handle most of the baking and production side of things while Mike manages the store front and day-to-day operations, while trying to help me as best as he can on the back end. At this time we don't have any employees but do get help from family members on weekends. We'll be looking to add to our team as our business grows.
5. You've been identified by one of our readers as a standout business. What do you consider the key element of your success?
Obviously the most important aspect for us to ensure we continue to provide freshly baked good on a daily basis but we take pride in our level of customer service. Walking into a cupcake shop should always be a fun experience. We take pride in ensuring each visit to Dolled Up Cupcakes is a fun, sophisticated and yummy experience.