Published in Solstice Magazine
Before making her way into the world of cakes, Janderyn Makris worked for a fast paced political consulting company. She quit her job though, to take care of her premature newborn and during her time as a stay-at-home mom she knew she wanted to pursue a creative career. Her husband suggested she could make something out of cupcakes and frosting since it had been her life long dream; she took his advice and created Earth and Sugar, one of the most admired, trusted and stylish cake makers in South Florida. She’s been featured in countless of blogs and publications and has created stunning cakes, including one for the youngest member of the Clinton administration where she had to deliver the cake on a private plane to the Bahamas. Today, she is opening up about her business, her definition of success and her new product.
Thank you so much Janderyn for sharing your journey and advice with us!
CDL: What would you like the world to know when they ask “what do you do?”
JANDERYN: I compose cakes. Actually to be honest, I always wonder myself how to answer when people ask me what I do because saying “baker” or “cake designer” sounds so streamlined and I feel my work is just a little different. When I design a cake I also take part in conceptualizing its placement at an event, the overall design of the table and the floral elements that would be fitting in that vision. So to explain my answer, I compose cakes as a conductor leads an orchestra except all the artists are equally invested in a symphony that is styling.
CDL: Describe a day in-the-life-of Janderyn.
JANDERYN: I could compare it to being on a colorful carousel that someone keeps putting coins into so that it continues to go around and around! I have two small children under the age of six, full time and part time staff, styling and photography commitments, one oversized home, a dog that looks like Yoda, meetings and presentations to prepare for (yes even as a cake artist we too have presentations to make and sales to pitch) and well of course paperwork and emails to be envied…by no one.
CDL: What has been the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting your business?
JM: Time with my family.
CDL: What are your reasons and motivations for what you do?
JM: Time with my family. The sacrifice of growing a business organically also in time provides you the freedom to be with your family and manage your own schedule. I am creating something that is and will continue to benefit my family in many ways and the people who have helped me grow is something I am eternally grateful for.
CDL: Describe the most exciting minute of your business owner journey.
JM: So clichéd, but making a cake for the youngest staff member of the Clinton administration and putting it on a private plane to the Bahamas where I stayed and worked for three days is that “feather in your hat” moment as my husband likes to call it.
CDL: What motivates you?
JM: The drive to succeed, for not only my family, but also for myself.
CDL: It can be a little scary to start something on your own; how did you overcome your fears?
JM: I had many industry friends talking me off the ledge and assuring me that fear is your biggest crutch. In life, rewards have a certain amount of risk and this one paid off.
CDL: If you had one piece of advice for someone just starting out in their journey, what would it be?
JM: Be confident but not overzealous. Growing a business is an investment and there are waves of good and also waves of challenges that some do not recover from. Being patient and attentive to all the components of your business is truly the cornerstone of it’s future success.
CDL: What’s the best piece of advice you have ever gotten?
JM: It’s time to put your big girl pants on! Yes its not the most poetic choice of words but truly when you are afraid or have a lack confidence, this is the dose of reality every girl needs. (thanks Laura)
CDL: Your new product is coming out soon! Tells us abut it and what you want to accomplish when it’s released.
JM: In short as I am not quite ready to divulge the full details of the product, I felt that amongst the many aprons on the market there was one missing that had a well thought out design. They will be launching exclusively through Social House and will be available for purchase starting June 2015. There are various linen colors and trim option preferences based on the persons skill in the creative industry.
CDL: How do you define success?
JM: For me success is not only defined by the longevity of a business or the volume of it’s production, but by the accomplishments a creative person has while in business. If I had to walk away from Earth and Sugar tomorrow because I was ready to hang up my apron or because of any other reason I can honestly say that I did everything and more than I had ever dreamed of accomplishing as a cake artist and therefore I succeeded.
CDL: Other than your own, what company/person do you admire the most? Why?
JM: I admire the one person that most people do in their own lives, my mother. She built a home filled with love along with my father and gave us the tools we needed to obtain a life even better than the one they had provided us with. She taught me to be a giving person and a loving wife and mother. She showed me that life has its own rewards outside of parenthood and that I should not feel guilt for wanting that. She has shown me that without her and the support she provides us at the studio and at home, Earth and Sugar would not exist.
CDL: What makes you happy?
JM: The warmth of the sun. If I stop long enough for one moment during the day I close my eyes and realize how grateful I am for all the things that not only my parents have given me, but my husband as well; he has never failed at making all my dreams come true.
CDL: What are your future plans for Earth and Sugar?
JM: My response is always the same: I only know what I have planned for today. Nothing in life is a guarantee and so Earth and Sugar is for right now, but it may not be always. My goal has been and will continue to be to remain the leader in the style of work that I do. It’s my competitive nature that compels me to invest in my craft and my staff so that our reputation and quality of work continues to evoke confidence in those who refer, hire and speak about Earth and Sugar.
CDL: What business books/resources (if any) would you recommend to someone starting a creative business of their own?
JM: “Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness“. Although it’s not the typical creative and inspirational book, it is motivational and touches on really important skills that business owners can easily forget are a crucial component to having success. We can create a product or a vision or have an amazing skill but ultimately you can’t make a living from that skill if you can’t sell it. Sales is a fast paced game that requires presence in the industry, a likable personality, a solid vision and confidence. I read this book when I started as a 21 year old banker and I assure you this book helped guide me through that learning curve and all the way to running my own business.
CDL: If Earth & Sugar were 3 colors, what colors would you pick?
JM: White, charcoal and green.
I was in Louisiana last week attending a workshop in Shreveport and enjoying some time off in New Orleans. I enjoy traveling alone because I can find myself again. I feel it’s healthy to miss my family from time to time but it’s nice to know that in only a few days I’ll be with them again.
It was my first time in New Orleans and I was captivated by its energy. I felt I was entering a gypsy land, mysterious and eccentric, where anything goes. I was a tad creeped out by the people; no, not the the current residents but the ones that have long ago passed but still linger around; I’m talking about ghosts! I didn’t experience anything in particular but hearing the stories was enough. I also took the opportunity to take some self-portraits but felt super ridiculous when I got caught haha.
The workshop I attended was in Shreveport, a small town north of New Orleans where I learned some tips and tricks by Hunter, a young photographer that creates elaborate styled shoots and beautiful images. This shoot was enough to send me packing but seeing this guy planning, styling, teaching, building, and even putting make-up on the models was truly inspiring. He does it all and doesn’t let anything get in his way to create his vision. I’ll be posting the images of the workshop on my wedding blog, stay tuned! Meanwhile, enjoy some behind-the-scenes photos below.
MUA: Xtina Vidal
Clothes: Las Celias