Well. It's finally here. I've done it. I am officially a small business owner.
It only took the better part of a decade to accomplish, but better late than never right?
I went to culinary school for pastry in 2009 and wanted nothing more than to bake full time, and eventually open my own business. Baking, for me, is extremely satisfying. I can just tune out the world and churn out all the goodies my little heart desires. And it makes me so incredibly happy to feed other people, especially if they're enjoying what's in front of them.
The following year, I had finished the pastry program at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. I was working as an assistant pastry chef at Clear Flour Bread and I got sick, like really sick. We're talking a chronic, life-long, autoimmune disorder (similar to lupus) that can be incredibly debilitating at times and sadly I will never be rid of. That's my tale of woe. But, like most stories, there's a silver lining.
After getting sick, I had to leave my job at the bakery. It was too physically demanding at the time. I also had to move back home at 26 years old, which was a major adjustment after living on my own for so many years. When I got back home to New York, I was fortunate enough to land a job at Martha Stewart, where I learned a tremendous amount, not just about food but about business.
And then I took a marketing job at The Adecco Group. I was really missing baking but I needed a steady paycheck to cover all of my medical bills and health insurance. I was again very fortunate to find myself in a place where I learned a lot. I had the best co-workers, many of whom will be lifelong friends. And then I was asked if I'd want to relocate to Florida, where their headquarters was, and I thought, why not?
So, I packed my things and moved from New York to Jacksonville in January of 2014. I had been catering a little on the side in NY but nothing with enough regular clients to do it full time, and there was still the pesky matter of health insurance.
Once I was settled here I met my now-husband (who's just the best). My career was going so well that baking had been relegated to more of a hobby. I thought I might never actually follow through on my dream.
And then fate stepped in.
Earlier this year, I had a relapse and actually had to take medical leave from work for several months. During that time I did a lot of soul searching; what happens if I don't get better? What happens if I can't go back? What am I going to do?
Every moment of every day that I wasn't feeling like total garbage was spent trying to figure out what my next step would be.
I actually went back to work after my leave, and unfortunately only made it a few weeks before my condition started to worsen again. To top it off, this was about 3 weeks or so before our wedding. Cue the panic.
So, together, we decided the best thing for me to do was to pack up my corporate career and take a little time off. A few weeks went by, we got married (IT WAS AWESOME!), and on our honeymoon that inevitable question popped back up: what am I going to do?
When I'm at my physical best, I'm constantly going. No grass grows under my feet. And when I'm at my worst, molasses moves faster than I do. I become exceptionally stationary. I realized I needed something that I could do at my own pace, that didn't require traveling (which I was traveling a lot in my previous role), and something I could be really excited about.
And then it hit me. This is the universe saying, "Follow your dream". A baking business, particularly with a blog attached to it, is not only something I've lusted after for years, it's also very scalable. I can start small and manage my workload much more easily. And hopefully I'll be back to zipping around in no time.
Once I decided to go for it, the husband was 100% on board. He's helped me set up all of the formal business pieces (he's a lawyer), and has been a great sounding board for everything from custom cake designs to what the website looks like. All of this would not be possible without him.
And now, this is really where all the hard work begins. But I'm excited to say that I'm finally not just ready, but able.
So, welcome to Samantha Mayfair Cakes. Have a look around. Follow me on social media. And for the love of God, buy some cake.