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Self-Rising Flower – an 10-part podcast audio drama mini-series that charts the rise of a family risking everything to build a dessert empire debuts Summer 2024 on Spotify and all of your favorite podcast channels! Along the way, we invite you to experience the REAL people navigating the hurdles of entrepreneurship and persisting in the face of immense challenges to make their marks in our lifetime.

Website: The Magic Oven Cupcakery
The Magic Oven Cupcakery
“Casting Spells on Tastebuds”

info@themagicovencupcakery.com

Meet Dequann Walker – the passionate and resilient owner of The Magic Oven Cupcakery. Dequann’s journey into the world of baking and entrepreneurship began as a response to a challenging period in her life. What started as a newfound interest in baking evolved into a decade-long adventure of self-taught expertise. Facing the initial hurdle of garnering support in a competitive market, Dequann persevered and built a loyal customer base. In this interview, Dequann shares valuable lessons learned, moments of pride, and the challenges. Her commitment to community engagement, philanthropy and future aspirations provides a glimpse into the heart and future of The Magic Oven Cupcakery.

What inspired you to start your eatery? Was it a personal passion, a gap in the market, or something else entirely?

To be perfectly honest, I lost my job back in 2013. I was home for five months trying to find employment, and something inside told me to start baking. I can cook like no tomorrow, but baking was new territory. This was around February 2014, I looked up a Hershey’s recipe for chocolate cake, and the rest as they say… “is history”! I’m going into year 10 of baking soon, and can proudly say I am a self-taught baker.

Describe the early days of your business. What were the biggest challenges you faced during setup and launch?

Support!! I’m from a city 30 minutes north of Detroit. Everyone knows each other, but competition is real! I don’t believe it should be like that, there is enough room at the table for everyone to eat. I started baking with a childhood friend, but there were a dozen other people in our city doing the same thing, so people felt like they had to choose. We eventually found a core group of customers, and then word of mouth began.

Did your initial vision for the eatery change along the way? If so, how did you adapt and overcome any unexpected obstacles?

Yes, My business name has changed twice! Initially, it was “LoveSweets” with a business partner, we did a little bit of everything. Cupcakes ( and gourmet any flavor you could think of), were our niche, but we could do desserts cups, chocolate-covered strawberries, etc. We parted ways amicably in 2016, and in 2017, “TheMagicOvenCupcakery” was formed. Some of our customers went her way, and some came mine. I had to rebrand and find ways of bringing in new customers. Cupcakes again were my thing, but I started to get the itch of doing cookies, and boom- they were a hit! When the pandemic occurred, that’s when my city started supporting me. I rarely do cupcakes, cookies are my bread and butter now.

What are the most valuable lessons you’ve learned through your entrepreneurial journey so far?

Excuse my language, but f*ck the haters. I used to get extremely discouraged and sad. I had people hating on my business, and I couldn’t understand why. If you know me, then you know I’m the sweetest, most giving, and supportive person ever. I was baffled at the amount of people who were telling potential customers not to shop with me, that my baked goods were boxed ( EVERYTHING I make is from scratch, it’s laughable now), and that my home wasn’t clean(I’m a clean freak, another laughable moment). I had all types of shade thrown my way! But as my business evolved, and the support was increasing, I realized the good outweighed the bad! You also have to find like-minded people for advice, encouragement, and learning. I keep educating myself to stay afloat and improve my product.

Tell us about a time your business faced a significant hurdle. How did you overcome it, and what did you learn from the experience?

To be very transparent, I would say present-day business is the slowest it’s ever been for me, and I’m not used to it. I had a large clientele in Michigan, and I moved to Atlanta summer of 2021 business hasn’t popped like I thought it would. I’m still trying to make my presence known, you know get myself out there so I can bless the A with TheMagicOvenCupcakery. It humbled me because I was OVERLY confident that my business would take off down here. I had to be honest with myself though Atlanta’s market to Metro Detroit is apples and oranges! I also was working alongside someone for a partnership in a brick-and-mortar, and that fell through, which led me to shelve everything for a little while to figure things out. I’ve learned you just have to put yourself out there, hustle hard, and not give up. I have some things I’m working on now for this spring/summer for some exposure, I’m not a quitter.

Share a moment that stands out as your proudest achievement with the eatery. What made it so special?

I would say I have two moments, during the pandemic I donated cookies to some of the local hospitals in my area. I have quite a few friends who are nurses, so I called them and had them pick up boxes and boxes of cookies lol. It was a small gesture, but just to put smiles on their faces during such trying times meant a lot to me, and them. I would say the other moment was having one of my customers reach out to me to take cookies to the cancer institute in our city for the nurses and doctors who helped her while she was going through chemo. She had just beat breast cancer and wanted them to have that as a thank you. I’ve baked for celebrities, weddings, sororities, and events, but those two moments I spoke about stand out the most to me.

How does your business connect with the local community? Do you host events, partner with other businesses, or participate in initiatives?

In the beginning stages of my business, I did small things in my community( picnics, awareness events, etc.), but I haven’t in a while. I will say I hold mental health very near and dear to me. In May I’m working on a conference called ” Cookies ‘n’ Conversations”, discussing mental health, with everything provided by my business. I’m also big on mentorship, and my hope for the near future is to partner with one of the local non-profits here in Atlanta.

How do you manage the constant demands of running an eatery while maintaining a work-life balance?

I literally had to laugh out loud!!! Did I mention I’m a flight attendant as well, so add that in with a business!! I also fly back home from time to time to fill orders for my customers. I land in Michigan and bake ALL day, I don’t have time for anything else! I do manage it better now than I did 2-3 years ago, I couldn’t separate the two and I was burned out. I had to start setting boundaries and having days off.

Where do you see your eatery in the next five years? Do you have any expansion plans or new menu ideas in the works?

Aside from loving to bake, I’m a coffee lover- I want to combine the two and open up a café. within the next year. Hopefully, the business will expand across Atlanta and one in my hometown in the next five years. I think about this DAILY! I have a whole Pinterest page of my layout design, aesthetics, and the whole nine yards! I have some new menu items I’m working on, but I’m going to keep that to myself, I need my girls to be taste testers a few times before I launch it!

What advice would you give someone who dreams of starting their own eatery? What are the key ingredients for success in this industry?

I would say if it’s something God has put on your heart and a gift he’s given you pursue it. The success won’t happen overnight but don’t give up. Learn your target audience, STAND ON BUSINESS with your pricing, network, and seek a mentor. I can’t tell you how many baking groups I’m a part of or classes I take, just to stay informed. There are also times I make free sample boxes and drop them off at events/businesses for exposure. (I’ve gotten a nice amount of business in doing this). Lastly, don’t be surprised if your friends and family aren’t your biggest supporters, and don’t expect them to be. The majority of my customers are strangers, and I’m ok with that. My dream isn’t the same as those closest to me, but it’s my responsibility to see it through with or without them.

Website: The Magic Oven Cupcakery
The Magic Oven Cupcakery
“Casting Spells on Tastebuds”

info@themagicovencupcakery.com

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