After I sold my house in Illinois, I was "happily homeless" for a few months and spent time visiting friends in Bloomington, Normal, Maryland, and Texas. All my worldly possessions were safely tucked away in storage with the movers and I lived out of a massive suitcase with fluorescent pink tape wrapped around it. My favorite expression was "wheels up" as I boarded planes to my next destination.
Then on Father's Day, I loaded up my Honda and watched Illinois slowly fade in my rear view mirror as I inched closer to North Carolina. I remember intentionally NOT telling my dad I was making the 13-hour (including time change) trip alone. He would have come unhinged!
Being a lifelong Type A personality, I had already set everything in place to hit the ground running once I arrived in Huntersville. I first marketed Beyond Decadence as a mobile pop-up bakery. I thought that sounded so clever and catchy, but I quickly found using the word “mobile” made people think I had a food truck! Oops! I was merely trying to communicate I literally took the bakery to the event or client and there wasn’t a brick and mortar storefront. The word "mobile" quickly disappeared from my vocabulary.
In August 2017, my first pop-up event was at Bayne Brewing in Cornelius. There I met one of my first Lake Norman friends! She educated me on all the events, venues, and where to sell around the lake. That discussion led me to become an artisan vendor at Williams-Sonoma and an outside vendor at Birkdale Village through 2018.
After years of doing farmer’s markets, I knew exactly what I was getting into with a pop-up business model. The worst parts of any pop-up event never knowing how much you will truly sell, schlepping EVERYTHING, and being exposed to unpredictable weather elements! I still don’t know how I managed to fit a tent, tent weights, table, chair, fan or heater, coolers, platters and display pieces, table decorations, cash box, bags, business cards, menus, and of course the individually packaged desserts in my car! Obviously, the further the venue, the earlier I had to start the day and get the car loaded. At the end of the day, I did everything in reverse. After hours and months of standing on concrete, my knees were on fire and my body ached.
It felt like I traversed North Carolina, but it didn’t take long before I learned to stay close to Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson, and even Mooresville. I did pop-up events or catered desserts for construction companies, doctor’s offices, city government, a winery, the airport, federal agencies, a museum, and a host of other venues and clients.
I think it was slightly before the pandemic, the physical demands of pop-ups (and way before double knee surgery) were wearing me out. When the pandemic hit, it turned out to be the ideal time to launch nationwide shipping and private virtual baking experiences to the general public. However, every celebrity chef on the planet started offering free daily baking videos. But God is faithful and I found a new rhythm as I refocused, began forming relationships, and landed corporate clients such as periodic promotional relationship with Nielsen-Massey Vanilla, Carolinas-Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council, National Fuel Gas, IDEO U, American Tire Distributors, AmeriHealth Caritas, Lowe's, South Piedmont Community College, Cleveland Community College, Johnson & Wales University, Carolina Small Business Development Fund, and many others.
So the “morph” (I detest the word “pivot”) from 2017 and “we deliver to your desk”, mobile pop-up bakery, online artisan bakery, nationwide shipping, local pickup, delivery, to 2022 DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) video baking demonstrations, private virtual and on-site baking experiences, speaking engagements, and continuing education classes.
Stay tuned -- so much more in store! Food Network, Cooking Channel, etc….I’m coming for you!