Frances Clark, the multi-talented business woman is on a mission to bring fabulous cupcakes to your doorstep. She is the founder of Build-A-Cupcake Bakeshop and she is determined to expand her culinary gifting by focusing on harnessing her recipes for the most delicious cupcakes you have ever tasted.
In addition to her ever expanding business profile, she is an ordained minister, a licensed cosmetologist, a non-profit founder and President and a loving mother of two beautiful twin girls. Anika Pettiford interviews Frances for theFeed to find out about food, business and perseverance.
Anika: When did you start developing an interest in cooking?
I developed an interest in cooking when I was 5 years old. I remember when my dad and mom would cook and I would come and sit at the table and just observe. I was never allowed to help as a young child for obvious reasons, but oh how I wanted to put my hands in that bread dough and crack those eggs. As I got older, I got to help out in their cooking business so that I could help with the bills. With a family of 6 girls living in an apartment in the projects of Baltimore, we had to contribute to the finances of the house.
Anika: Seems like you were taught the value of money at a very early age, how has that helped you as a business owner?
Yes I was. I am a very budget-minded person and I believe that truly helps me as a business owner to track and keep expenses down.
Anika: How long have you been an entrepreneur? Did you always have aspirations of being your own boss?
I have been an entrepreneur for as long as I can remember! I just did not get paid! (Laughing). But seriously, I have been pushing hard for over ten years to breakthrough as a profitable entrepreneur.
Anika: What was the first business you started?
The first business I started was my at-home Hair Salon. I am a licensed cosmetologist and doing hair was my first attempt at entrepreneurship.
Anika: Where do all these business ideas and inspiration come from and how did you get started?
It’s actually interesting because I am also an ordained minister. I love to preach God’s Word and do His will. Prayer is a HUGE part of my life. God has me in a resting mode this year where prayer is actually my number one priority. As I seek His face and do His work, He gives me all these business ideas and orchestrates the building of those ideas. I am extremely thankful to Him for all that He has done for me and all the mess that He has got me through. I have had many failed business attempts and have met my share of roadblocks to last a lifetime…but God! This time it’s different. This time I’m completely resting and relying on His timing and His open doors.
Anika: Most people give up after failure, what has failing in business taught you?
Failing in business has taught me that perseverance is the key to success. Failure humbles you and teaches you the right process of how to get things done because it shows you where you went wrong. Sometimes it’s all about timing and sometimes it’s a lack of knowledge and resources; nevertheless, you cannot give up if you believe God has given you the vision for your business.
Anika: I believe it’s important for local businesses to give back. Are you actively involved in your local community?
Absolutely! My goodness that is my heartbeat! I run a non-profit called New Start Life. This is an organization that specializes in assisting men and women who are transitioning from prison and other unfortunate challenges in their lives but are now trying to make a fresh start. As our organization begins to expand, we are embarking on purchasing our very first house to serve as New Start Life Women’s Shelter for mothers and children. I’m also a teacher in Women of Excellence Inc. Women of Excellence Inc. is also a non-profit that is doing great things to expand the kingdom of God.
Anika: As a mother of two, how do you find the right balance between these activities, your business and your family?
Balance is kind of an illusion really. Again I believe it comes down to timing. I think the period in my life when my kids were young was meant to slow me down. I had so many ideas and projects but not enough time to do them all well. That also contributed to the obstacles I faced in business. There was a point where I had to shut my business down and just REST. My priorities had to be reordered in the order of – God, family and then business. When I did that, God sent the right people at the right time to help me bring my ideas to life without all the stress of overloading on projects. There is an ease when you do things His way and in His timing.
Anika: Most people dream of leaving their jobs and stepping out on their own and being their own boss. What advice would you give to future entrepreneurs?
First advice is to make sure your vision for your business is truly a God-given vision. I wouldn’t recommend anyone stepping out and following a dream that they see others doing effortlessly but it’s not really their calling. Second, follow your passion and not the money. This will motivate you even if you are employed elsewhere to pursue your business after hours.
Anika: Where do you see your business in 5 years?
In the next few years I see myself owning and operating food trucks throughout the Central Virginia region. I plan to offer soul food and desserts that tinkle your taste buds and make you want to come back for more!! I’m also especially passionate about creating desserts that cater to the diabetic. I have two daughters that deal with this issue and it has always been a challenge to feed them diabetic –friendly desserts that actually taste good. My offerings will include these incredibly tasty diabetic friendly, gluten-free desserts.
Anika: Sounds like you’re going to have a full plate, no pun intended (laughter). Where do you start? What is your first step?
I’m currently expending all my energy into perfecting my desserts, specifically my cupcakes for the launch of my Build-A-Cupcake Bakeshop. The cupcakes taste like that fabulous wedding cake you always remember and wished you can get another slice of. Because of my daughters, I’m concurrently working on a gluten free and sugar free version of my cupcakes.
See how Fran is following her own advice with her new venture – Build a Cupcake Bakeshop in Part 2 of the interview on Reciply.