Table of Contents
Justin Ellen found himself at a difficult crossroad when he was 17 — really should he pursue his enthusiasm for baking whole-time, or go to college to further more his education?
At that time, the youngest contestant of Netflix’s well known baking clearly show was producing custom cakes from property as a aspect-hustle, when also juggling with school.
He was bringing home at the very least $5,000 a thirty day period, but he could not enable but review himself to his friends.
“The detail that bought me down was like, I was seeing all my friends [apply for colleges].”
Even so, the young celebrity baker stuck to his guns, believing that “everyone has their have path.”
Just two yrs later, the entire-time entrepreneur and owner of cake small business, Almost everything Just Baked, is earning extra than $100,000 a year — and he is not turning back.
In March this year, he made his debut on Netflix’s “Is It Cake?” — a baking contest where cake artists create edible replicas of day to day objects, this kind of as bowling pins and sewing equipment.
The demonstrate, which premiered on the streaming support on March 18, was in the Best 10 most-watched checklist in the U.S. for four months. It also raked in more than 100 million several hours of sights from all-around the entire world.
But the route of results is not without the need of failures, Ellen tells CNBC Make It. Sheer tough work and sensible phrases from loved kinds also aided prod him alongside.
‘Who made this cake?’
As a digital native, Ellen understood from the start off that having a social media presence would be crucial in constructing his business. But it took a ton of follow — and braveness — to make himself identified.
“In the starting, my social media wasn’t wonderful … not excellent photos, they were being incredibly blurry. But as I saved on progressing, I recognized they have to be super clean up.”
Ellen also noticed that Instagram was “seriously pushing” video content on the platform and that is when he made the decision to turn the digital camera on himself, sharing snippets of his existence as a younger baker.
“I was unquestionably shy in the starting mainly because it was just awkward for me … but the much more you do it, it can be like, oh very well and actually no a single cares if your hair’s a minor frizzy today,” he shared.
“Honestly, it tends to make you much more relatable. Folks want to know the man or woman at the rear of the brand name and if they take pleasure in you, they’re gonna want to spend cash with you.”
Even so, Ellen stated that publishing on social media was something he “didn’t choose seriously” at the get started.
“I was just posting for enjoyable. Ultimately, [through] word of mouth … individuals saved inquiring ‘Can I order a cake?'”
Ellen also slowly but surely created his following and clientele by baking when he had the probability, even if it was for household occasions.
“It will not even have to be a large cake … just make one thing tiny mainly because you never know who’s likely to be there. Someone’s heading to take in it and request, ‘Who made this cake?'”
Just before he understood it, he had in excess of 50,000 followers on Instagram and was earning about $5,000 to $9,000 a thirty day period in high school.
“I understood, wow, this could be a significant business.”
As he saw his side hustle achieve momentum in significant college, Ellen commenced thinking about pursuing baking as a profession. But not anyone authorised.
“My dad was like, a baker? I experience like you will find a connotation [with baking] like, ‘Oh, you really don’t make a great deal of money’ or ‘You have to do a good deal of do the job,'” he explained.
But Ellen had even larger strategies for himself.
“I understood that I failed to have to imagine modest. There is certainly so significantly you could do in the field … think about just about every lane you could go into.”
“I seemed at other bakers who produced their small business — they have product or service strains, which I experienced no concept that that’s a little something you can even do.”
It was all around this time that Ellen, like his good friends close to him, had to consider about what’s upcoming following superior faculty.
“Almost certainly all over junior yr, when everyone’s like seeking for faculties … I was debating [about] going to culinary school. [But] I recognized it was not for me,” he explained.
“I just felt like it wasn’t well worth it and it was a large amount of money. And you cannot really train how to do artwork in a feeling, it can be truly just apply — and the far more you practice, the less difficult it can be heading to get.”
That was the pivotal second for Ellen, who recognized he was not just a baker in large faculty any more.
“[I’m an] entrepreneur to start with, then a baker. If you want to be a baker, then go work for somebody else.”
Social media may possibly have been “fully free of charge” to use as a type of marketing, but Ellen desired aid with the initial money to get his business enterprise up and operating.
“In the commencing I was offering cookies that I transported out … I asked my mothers and fathers for $500 to get containers and other components.”
That was the to start with and final time he ever requested his mom and dad for funds for his enterprise, he stated.
Even although his mothers and fathers had doubts about his enterprise in the early times, Ellen characteristics his achievements to their sensible text: Often reinvest what you generate.
“I was in a position to reinvest the funds that [I got from] persons getting, back into my company. I did not go get Jordans,” he said with a laugh, referring to Nike’s common Air Jordan sneakers that can price at minimum $200.
That frame of mind is one thing that his dad and mom — who run their personal authentic estate enterprise — instilled in him, Ellen explained.