Justin Ellen discovered himself at a troublesome crossroad when he was 17 — ought to he pursue his ardour for baking full-time, or go to varsity to additional his schooling?
At that point, the youngest contestant of Netflix’s in style baking present was making customized muffins from residence as a side-hustle, whereas additionally juggling with faculty.
He was bringing residence no less than $5,000 a month, however he could not assist however evaluate himself to his friends.
“The thing that got me down was like, I was seeing all my friends [apply for colleges].”
Nonetheless, the younger celeb baker caught to his weapons, believing that “everyone has their own path.”
Just two years later, the full-time entrepreneur and proprietor of cake enterprise, Everything Just Baked, is incomes greater than $100,000 a yr — and he isn’t turning again.
In March this yr, he made his debut on Netflix’s “Is It Cake?” — a baking contest the place cake artists create edible replicas of on a regular basis objects, resembling bowling pins and stitching machines.
The present, which premiered on the streaming service on March 18, was within the Top 10 most-watched checklist within the U.S. for 4 weeks. It additionally raked in additional than 100 million hours of views from world wide.
But the trail of success just isn’t with out failures, Ellen tells CNBC Make It. Sheer onerous work and smart phrases from family members additionally helped prod him alongside.
‘Who made this cake?’
As a digital native, Ellen knew from the beginning that having a social media presence can be essential in constructing his enterprise. But it took lots of follow — and braveness — to make himself recognized.
“In the beginning, my social media wasn’t great … not great photos, they were very blurry. But as I kept on progressing, I realized they have to be super clean.”
Ellen additionally noticed that Instagram was “really pushing” video content material on the platform and that is when he determined to show the digicam on himself, sharing snippets of his life as a younger baker.
“I was definitely shy in the beginning because it was just awkward for me … but the more you do it, it’s like, oh well and honestly no one cares if your hair’s a little frizzy today,” he shared.
“Honestly, it makes you more relatable. People want to know the person behind the brand and if they enjoy you, they’re gonna want to spend money with you.”
Even so, Ellen stated that posting on social media was one thing he “didn’t take seriously” at first.
“I was just posting for fun. Eventually, [through] word of mouth … people kept asking ‘Can I order a cake?'”
Ellen additionally slowly constructed his following and clientele by baking each time he had the possibility, even when it was for household occasions.
“It doesn’t even have to be a huge cake … just make something small because you don’t know who’s going to be there. Someone’s going to eat it and ask, ‘Who made this cake?'”
Before he knew it, he had over 50,000 followers on Instagram and was incomes about $5,000 to $9,000 a month in highschool.
“I realized, wow, this could be a serious business.”
From baker to entrepreneur
As he noticed his facet hustle achieve momentum in highschool, Ellen began excited about pursuing baking as a profession. But not everybody accredited.
“My dad was like, a baker? I feel like there’s a connotation [with baking] like, ‘Oh, you don’t make a lot of money’ or ‘You have to do a lot of work,'” he stated.
But Ellen had larger plans for himself.
“I realized that I didn’t have to think small. There’s so much you could do in the field … think about every lane you could go into.”
“I looked at other bakers who created their business — they have product lines, which I had no idea that that’s something you can even do.”
It was round this time that Ellen, like his mates round him, had to consider what’s subsequent after highschool.
“Probably around junior year, when everyone’s like searching for colleges … I was debating [about] going to culinary school. [But] I realized it wasn’t for me,” he stated.
“I just felt like it wasn’t worth it and it was a lot of money. And you can’t really teach how to do art in a sense, it’s really just practice — and the more you practice, the easier it’s going to get.”
That was the pivotal second for Ellen, who realized he was not only a baker in highschool anymore.
“[I’m an] entrepreneur first, then a baker. If you want to be a baker, then go work for someone else.”
Best enterprise recommendation
Social media could have been “completely free” to make use of as a type of advertising and marketing, however Ellen wanted assist with the preliminary capital to get his enterprise up and working.
“In the beginning I was selling cookies that I shipped out … I asked my parents for $500 to buy boxes and other materials.”
That was the primary and final time he ever requested his dad and mom for cash for his enterprise, he stated.
Even although his dad and mom had doubts about his enterprise within the early days, Ellen attributes his success to their smart phrases: Always reinvest what you earn.
“I was able to reinvest the money that [I got from] people purchasing, back into my business. I didn’t go buy Jordans,” he stated with amusing, referring to Nike’s in style Air Jordan sneakers that may price no less than $200.
That mindset is one thing that his dad and mom — who run their very own actual property firm — instilled in him, Ellen stated.