19 year old Naomi Dugdale created a custom cake and cupcake business, turning a life-long passion into a booming business. “I've always loved baking, I've baked pretty much my entire life with my grandma and my mom and my family and I was also watching Cake Boss and all those fun Food Network shows growing up.” The business, Baking by Naomi, has been operating from her home.
Dugdale’s desserts started to create a buzz after people tried her baking during her employment at a restaurant. “The past three summers I worked in a restaurant up at a golf course [as a] line cook and I would bring in little desserts here and there sometimes that I’d be experimenting with at home just for fun", explains Dugdale. "People would say, 'hey do you sell any of this stuff?"
Initially Dugdale was shocked, “I didn't think that anyone would actually want to buy anything.” Still, Dugdale welcomed the opportunity to take her passion to the next level.
However, Dugdale admits that passion and creativity are not enough. “There was lots to learn...there’s a whole other side to running a business that a lot of people probably don’t really often think about before they start.” Dugdale explains that the most difficult aspect was learning to budget and navigate the world of marketing. “I definitely had to learn how to budget properly, and how to actually price my cakes and cupcakes that I sell so that I wasn’t losing money but I was still doing fair pricing…[as well as] marketing and getting my name out there so people knew they could order from me.”
Contrary to other small businesses during COVID-19, Dugdale explains that the pandemic generated an increase in cake orders. “More people were having more at home celebrations..they were having little family get-togethers with themselves where they might not have done somethings special for [before]."
Alongside running her business, Dugdale is also a second year civil engineering student at UNBC. “I stay really organized and on top of things and I'm not double booking [orders]...when I have exam season.” Dugdale has found that the online university semester has made things easier. "I have more time to actually be at home and do my business at the same time."
At 19, Dugdale is an inspiration to other young entrepreneurs eager to start a business. “It’s important to keep it really simple,” she advises. “Do a lot of research before you start so that you don’t have a bunch of curveballs thrown at you afterwards...knowing the market, where you're based and what people would really be interested in is super important.”
Listen to the full interview on CFUR-FM: