Andra Hall’s grandmother once gave her some advice: if you’re going to do one thing, make sure you do that one thing really well. For Andra, she loved to bake since childhood—and unexpectedly made it a career when she left the corporate world to care for her daughter Camille, who was ill at the time. Her decision to start CamiCakes Cupcakes has brought sweet rewards, generating $1.1 million in revenues in 2009. There are currently three locations (two in Florida and one in Georgia); plans for a fourth location; and celebrity fans including music producer Jazze Pha and actor Boris Kodjoe, whose favorite flavor, btw, is the Chocolate Raspberry Almond Cream.
We were able to pull Andra out the kitchen for a bit of cupcake conversation.
What’s in a name: I played around with a few names in the beginning when I wasn’t sure if I was going to do cakes or cupcakes, so some people said why not call it CamiCakes, after my daughter Camille. I liked it, so that’s where the name came from.
Cupcake craze: I think there has always been something special about cupcakes. People can still enjoy their favorite flavored cake–or two, or three flavors at a time–just as a cupcake. You no longer have to invest in a whole 50 or 60 dollar cake, and people just got excited about that.
Back-up Plan: It’s hard to know what else I’d be doing right now. I knew that I didn’t want to go back into an office environment, so I think maybe the focus would have been on wedding cakes or other specialty cakes.
Shop talk: I really don’t focus on what other people are doing around me. I just do what feels right, and I go with the things that I like to eat. Half of the flavors that we have are combinations of flavors that I enjoy eating [such as Sweet Potato, CinnaSwirl, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cream]. Before opening my first doors I also held what I called cupcake socials, and I received lots of feedback from others on which flavors to throw out and which ones to keep exploring. But I never paid any attention to what other shops were doing in terms of creating our menu and deciding what to do in our stores.
Entrepreneur’s secret ingredients: Owning a cupcake shop takes a passion for baking, cakes in particular. Personally, knowing that I had more in me [besides working in an office] and really wanting to do my own thing helped me to get where I am today.
Photo: Darnell Wilburn
Arlice Nichole is a freelance writer and editor from the Midwest working for digital destinations that include Clutch magazine, BlackEnterprise.com and NBC Universal. Her work has also been picked up by USAToday, EbonyJet.com and Lifetime Moms.