It’s a beautiful evening in Carmel, Indiana. Because the April showers have lingered through June, we’re collectively giddy and expectant for any sign of summer. My friend Erin and I have just finished a long “walk and talk” on the Monon Trail. We passionately discuss the “ups and downs” of entrepreneur life with special emphasis on the world of women in business. Erin’s specialty is confidence; mine is connection. We’re courageously building businesses. Our conversations are authentic and vulnerable. We pause in the light of appreciation for our time together and the gift it is to have each other’s backs and hearts.
As we approach Erin’s apartment in the Carmel City Center we must also pause to drink in the beauty of her newest neighbor, one who also has us giddy and expectant. Gwendolyn Roger’s newest Cake Bake Masterpiece is just days from opening. The storybook porch of flowers and lanterns beckons you to come closer. With faces pressed to the window, Erin says, “Let’s see if Gwen is here and tell her how excited we are and proud of what she’s doing.” Did I mention Erin teaches confidence? Not only is Gwen a local celebrity for creating and baking cakes so beautiful they require a breathtaking experience, she is also on a first name basis with Oprah. Her list of awards is a full menu of the BEST of anything cake, bakery and experience. The celebrity names and movies associated with The Cake Bake Shop looks like an Ellen Show guest list.
As we peek, I have that twinge of hesitancy. This woman has a lot on her plate. I don’t want to be a bother. This is a critical time of last minute prep for this grand opening. With a twinkle in her eye, Erin says, “I really want her to know how excited we are for her and how inspiring she is for us as entrepreneurs.” Did I mention Erin teaches confidence? Erin pulls me in with my passionate desire to fuel connection. We’re each wired for connection; to experience how our gifts and talents have purpose and value. Even celebrities who have baked cakes for Garth Brooks and Matt Damon steep in humanity. Gratitude could be exactly what Gwen needs to fuel this last push before the opening.
With new thoughts of fueling her fire with gratitude and connection, I too gain that twinkle in my eye. A woman pushing a cart of linens comes to the door and Erin says, “Is Gwen here?” Being an actual neighbor of the shop, Erin and Gwen have exchanged elevator conversation so this isn’t actually a stalker scene.
Fast forward to Gwen taking Erin and I on a tour of the magical world of The Cake Bake Shop and commercial kitchen, equipped with mixers the size of my washing machine. Yes, we did interrupt Gwen, as she was organizing cleaning supplies and unpacking dishes. Along the tour, she stopped to climb a ladder and help the cabinetry guy hang a frame on the new menu board. Gwen is hands on.
A few Sweet Business Insights about Gwen
- Gwen is passionate and kind, she’s genuinely happy to hear our excitement. No matter the level of fame, it’s beautiful to know people care and find value in our work.
- With a twinkle in her eye resembling the sparkly lights throughout her shop, she’s happy to give us a tour. When we use our unique gifts and talents, we want to give those gifts away. She’s delighted to show us all she’s been dreaming and planning for this new space that is bursting with expectancy.
- After massive success, she still has fears and concerns. Many might think a spot on Oprah’s Favorite Things List would erase all doubts now and into the future. Truth is, every level of success raises the bar of expectations. Gwen now juggles how to deliver on MORE; More space, more employees, and more expectations.
- Gwen loves the details as much as her customers love her cake. She’s dressed for cleaning and unpacking, still her eyes shine as she shows us how the Swarovski crystal chandeliers dance when the air conditioning comes on. Yes, she hung hundreds of the crystals herself. She is just as detailed talking about the flow of the kitchen and the efficiency the larger equipment will bring.
- Gwen Rogers loves her craft. She talks as passionately about the ice cream maker as she does about the crystal chandelier. She is amazed at how many layers of cake she can bake in this new kitchen. You begin to understand the pains of exploding growth, like a puzzle she has been trying to solve with people and efficiency. This new kitchen provides answers to the puzzle with space and commercial sized equipment.
- She’s a proud mom. On the brink of a huge opening, she’s most excited to take her boys to California next month and enjoy them and their friends. Her boys wanting to spend time with her brings a look of pride and excitement.
- The work is hard. She wants to inspire others who have a dream and also wants them to be realistic of the work. As we tour, a cart of custom designed uniforms wheels into the space. She sighs and says, “These have been in my dining room for months!”
- She cares deeply about her guests who are ready to bring special moments into this space. Growth requires many new employees. Training staff is on her heart and mind as much as the recipes and equipment. She sighs as she talks about learning to trust. She’s reminding herself, it’s going to be okay, knowing it won’t be perfect to start. Yet quietly wishing there was a way to ensure perfect food and experience for every guest, every time.
We exit the side entrance from the tour, she’s happy to take in fresh air and new summer sun. As she turns the corner, excitedly she says “Did you see the unicorn!?” Pointing out a white unicorn in the window, easily the size of a carousel horse. She explains the twinkles and movement that will soon come alive for all to enjoy while strolling through Carmel City Center. Like the flowers and lanterns, the unicorn beckons you inside for a magical storybook experience.