“Jobs of the Future” is a series focusing on career paths, local job opportunities, programs, and tales of success that highlight North Bay's diverse job market.
Sometimes you just have to follow your dreams. Holly Couchie did that with her cake business…literally.
“I just woke up one day and said to my husband, ‘I feel like baking a cake from scratch.’ So I went to Micheals, grabbed the basic supplies for cake decorating, pulled a recipe from a website and baked my first cake,” she says.
“I posted that to my Facebook page saying ‘look what I made today' and everyone was just in awe of that. I made that cake in February of 2021 and my business started two months later in April.”
Couchie is the owner of The Mini Cake Shoppe which is fully operated out of her own kitchen, but it comes with some challenges.
“My business time in the kitchen at home means that everybody has to be hands-off in the kitchen and I have to work around when my kids need to be in there for snacks and meals,” says Couchie.
“I have told them ‘get your snacks and whatever you need and then stay out,” she says with a laugh, while adding, another challenge is keeping up with the demand.
“I will get emails and messages asking if I have anything available on that day, or if I can get anything prepared immediately for the next day, and it's not something that I can accomplish,” says Couchie.
However, due to the success of The Mini Cake Shoppe in just over a year, she has recently signed a lease to open a space on Main Street in Callander.
“The new space will allow me to see if I can accommodate some of those requests and even have the option of being open in my own bakery for more than just the one day.”
Couchie is a full-time social worker and is juggling the baking business on the side and says the new space should also allow her to hire some help.
“I’m hoping that down the line, it will allow me to hire another person to be able to be a bakery assistant and be there when I can’t be there to do some things. My goal is to be there every Saturday and I’m confident it will happen, I just don’t know how fast I will get to that goal.”
But Couchie has already achieved some goals very quickly, and those are goals that she hadn’t previously set out for herself.
“I didn’t actually consider turning this into a business, it was just more of a creative outlet during COVID, but I did have an old high school teacher who basically said to me, ‘ok when is this non-business starting up? When are you going to start selling these cakes?’ and that gave me that extra push to really consider it,” says Couchie.
“I had baked over 20 cakes between February and April and was just giving them out to everyone, and the feedback was always that these are too good to just be given away. They are all made from scratch and one of the best compliments is when people say ‘this tastes like a real cake!’”
Baking cakes during the pandemic was also a welcomed distraction from her previous side business that was no longer operating.
“I owned Lovely Creations Photography which started in 2013 and the pandemic shut down my studio,” says Couchie.
“My specialty was working with babies; newborns up to one year olds. The COVID pandemic made me fearful of working with babies because we wanted to protect them and make sure that they weren’t going to get sick and so I just felt that I had to make the decision to hang up my camera.”
Couchie says while she loved photography, she is finding more enjoyment in baking cakes than she ever did doing photography. Couchie is looking to grow her client base and is welcoming of any feedback.
“To this day I have not received any direct negative feedback on my baking although sometimes if there was an issue, I would love to hear that constructive criticism because then I can figure out what I need to do better, what can I change, how can I adjust to someone’s specific tastes?”
She adds, “That constructive criticism is welcome because I’m always looking to push myself. I am tough on myself for sure. I’m always looking into the finer details and hoping that the person who made the order is going to like it."
Couchie says she offers custom options for cakes with some pre-made options as well, but she specializes in birthday cakes.
“A lot of them are kids' birthdays. This is also my first year doing wedding cakes. Last year I did one, but now that I’m starting to get my name out there a little more, I’m booked for up to five weddings this year now. And these are big orders, a lot of work goes into prepping for weddings,” says Couchie.
Couchie also wants her story to be an inspiration to others who want to pursue a passion of their own
“My advice would be to not listen to that voice in your head that is telling you not to do it. Sometimes, you need to just go for it. There are risks when you are starting your own small business, but those are the risks you have to take,” she says.
“You don’t know if it is going to be a success or not if you don’t take that chance and that’s what I’m doing. It’s a risk to get this new space and I’m excited to see where it takes me.”
If you have a story idea for the “Jobs of the Future” series, send Matt an email at [email protected]