When “Sissys” Debbie Nutt Stein and Blakey Nutt Martin decided it was time to take their home-based baking business SissyCakes to the next level, they called on Tom Murro, President of the innovative kitchen incubator program Chef Space. Through Chef Space, they would receive access to commercial kitchen space along with business education to learn the nuances of running a food business. They would also work with Community Ventures to get additional business training and access to the capital they needed to grow their business to that next level.
The sisters used to bake the cake that started it all—their signature Orange Juice Cake—solely for friends and family. They first dipped their toes in the business waters a few years back by posting their cake on Facebook during the holiday season and taking orders in the comments. To their surprise and delight, between Thanksgiving and Christmas their cake-baking prowess generated $6K, lighting an entrepreneurial fire. But life and large families kept SissyCakes on the back burner until their kids got a bit older. But when a wholesale opportunity presented itself, the sisters knew it was time to dive in the deep end.
“Paul’s Fruit Market is a really popular specialty grocery with several locations in Louisville,” Stein explained. “We took our cakes to Paul’s and they went crazy over them! They said ‘We want your cakes, but you have to be in a certified kitchen.’ That’s when we got into Chef Space.”
“We took a tour with Tom and he was just delightful,” Stein continued. We loved his demeanor and how knowledgeable and friendly he was. His mentorship and guidance through the process was invaluable, because we didn’t know how to get from point A to point B. We didn’t know how to use commercial equipment, or all the health department rules, etc. Having the other Chef Space members around us, to be able to bounce ideas and test new flavors was a huge benefit—and the price! To be able to pay a flat rate and have everything we needed…it was very affordable for a young business that was growing and learning.”
Over the span of 16 months at Chef Space, SissyCakes flourished and the sisters knew it was time to look for a space of their own. Murro helped them find the perfect space close to their homes in St. Matthews and put them in touch with Community Ventures’ Business Development Specialist Tracey Spann for the capital they needed to buy commercial equipment of their own.
“Tracey was delightful to work with,” said Stein. “The process initially felt daunting but Tracey made it painless because she was there for us every step of the way. She was available to answer all of our questions and we never felt overwhelmed. Her belief in our business made us even more excited and confident. Tracey is amazing and couldn’t be any sweeter!”
At the heart of it all, the bubbly duo agrees: “We just want our cakes to make people happy—to spark joy!”
To learn more about Chef Space, or to find out how Chef Space can help you achieve your culinary dreams, visit www.chefspace.org. To learn more about how Community Ventures can help your small business, contact Lew Whalen at firstname.lastname@example.org.