Baking Business With Jodi Rhoden Of Short Street Cakes

Jodi Rhoden is the owner/operator of Short Street Cakes in Asheville, NC. She is a wife, mother, boss, and no stranger to a 14-hour work day. Her perseverance, attitude, and deliberate rise to entrepreneurial success are what led us to feature her story this week in a series we are calling “Mom-trepreuers”.

The Slow Bake

Jodi Rhoden didn’t originally set out to be a cake maker. As a graduate from UGA (The University of Georgia) with an undergraduate degree in social work she had always meant to go into social work, which, at first, she did.

“I moved to Boston, MA in 1999 and got a job in the Haley House, which was a Catholic worker house. They have a bakery and a soup kitchen. There was a lot of stuff we did there. We did some activism and we published a street paper. Haley House aided with low-income housing. My job there was in the training program – training underemployed folks in job skills through baking. That was my first professional baking job. I really enjoyed that work. I moved down here (Asheville, NC) in 2001. I planned on doing social work but could never get a job.”

“I started Short Street Cakes out of my house (which is on Short Street) just a few months after my son was born. While working in childcare at the YMCA, I started making cakes and one of my coworkers asked me to make their wedding cake. From that job I got two other wedding cake jobs. I had to quit the YMCA, because some laws changed and we weren’t able to bring our own children with us, so I was back at home. I decided to see if I could sell cakes out of my house. It took off. Over the three years I was cranking them out of my house, I took some business classes and figured out how to get incorporated, I got my LLC, and I took the Mountain BizWorks class.”

“I was very deliberate about building up slowly. Starting out of my home, I only worked on word of mouth to build a reputation. I never paid for advertising. I was able to build up slowly while I had no overhead. I got my kitchen certified and had my customers come to my house and pick up their cakes. Doing that for three years I was able to build a foundation of clients so I was able to hit the ground running here, once I opened the shop. I think that the process was: Growing slowly and not taking too big a bite.”

The Big Boom!

“Last year there was an article that came out in The Asheville Citizen-Times, written by Barbara Blake, which was really flattering towards me and my story. At that time my business tripled. It was last spring at that point when wedding season hit. I was also about to go out on the road and write a book. So we had to train new employees. I already had case-by-case cake ladies when I worked out of my house. When I got into the shop I had one baker and one front end person for the first year. As we were hiring on more staff, interns would come in and want to learn. By the second day, they were bowing out and saying they didn’t know how we did it – they would call us ‘soldiers’. We now have 5 cake ladies. I have immense love and trust for my crew. We all love what we do.”

The challenges of growth and learning can all be part of the fun in running your own business. Jodi says:

“I think the most challenging thing about being your own boss is that no one is going to tell you to get up in the morning. No one is going to tell you how to do it. And if there is a problem, it’s yours to solve. The same thing that’s wonderful about it is that you are ultimately accountable and responsible for what happens in your business. There’s been a very steep learning curve. There’s so much that I didn’t learn or understand about owning a business before I came into it. Now, I don’t feel terribly challenged – because I love it!”

Ingredients For The Future.

“Finding a place in the community where I feel that people are grateful that I’m here because what I do has become a part of their traditions and community; Families I’ve made their wedding cake and now I’m making their kids birthday cake – That, to me, is so special – and that is what being in a community is all about. Everybody has their role and their gifts, and they share them. It’s appreciated, reciprocated and supported. It’s overwhelming to think that I’m part of a community, and my part is based on something so happy for people and it has a lot of meaning. When people are celebrating the passing of time, and the special events in their lives, I love to help.”

March 5th, 2011 will be two years since Short Street Cakes opened their shop doors. Along with a big party to just celebrate what they’ve accomplished in the community; Jodi is launching another leg in the growth of her business. She’s planning on offering classes, birthday parties where small groups of children can come into the shop and bake their own cupcakes, and there’s even talk of starting a video blog – which they’re calling ‘Cake Show’ for now. She even has a book coming out called ‘Cake Ladies’, which is part recipe book and part storytelling. Of being her own boss, Jodi Rhoden had this to say:

It’s about our lives and having that livelihood where we can just enjoy our lives and families and celebrate. Creativity is central here.

She offers this last advice to our readers:

“A lot of these things are clichés and been said before buts it’s because their true:

  • There is no easy way. There are no shortcuts. There are no get-rich-quick. There is no way to have a successful business without hard work.
  • What my dad told me: ‘You don’t have to be the best, you just have to do what you say you’re going to do.’ That has been the number one guiding principle in my work and in my life – To do my very best at what I say I am going to do. So some times you have to be careful when saying what you’re going to do. Make a commitment, keep it.”

To learn more about Jodi Rhoden and Short Street Cakes, please visit:

Website:Shortstreetcakes.com
Blog:Shortstreetcakes.blogspot.com
Twitter: Twitter.com/Shortstreet
Facebook: Facebook.com/Shortstreetcakes

About the Author: Daniel Ballard

Daniel is a Writer and Entrepreneur. He is Co-Founder/Main Author/Editor of BossStart and Co-Editor/Featured Author for BossStart's sister site, PauseStart, launching early 2012

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3 Comments + Add Comment

  • I want to thank you a whole lot for this article. Love the story.

  • Love to read blog posts about Asheville! Wish I could leave a cartoon I wrote about Asheville bakeries in the comment, but here’s the link: http://tinyurl.com/84knxkl

    • Thanks Kevin. Glad you enjoyed the read. Nice blog yourself. Keep up the great work.

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