Mandi Miller spent eight years baking out of her own home kitchen for her business, Got What It Cakes.
Now, after a two-year search, the self-taught baker has a storefront of her own. She moved to 219 Main St. in December 2013, quickly snatching up the space soon after it became available. Miller saw the space as an opportunity, and even though her youngest child won’t start kindergarten until August, she jumped at the chance to own the shop, which opened in January 2014.
“I knew these eight months would be hard,” she said. “It just felt like the right time. It felt like it was handed to me, and I would be a fool not to take it. I knew if I waited until next January, the building might not be opened,” she said.
Miller delved into the cake industry after baking a cake for her daughter’s birthday who, at the time, was turning 1. Not having enough money for a custom cake didn’t stop Miller from getting what she wanted. She researched ideas to make “something better than a sheet cake,” deciding on an underwater-themed cake.
“It was not awesome,” she said, adding she used Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers for the fish. “I was not doing anything worthy of a custom cake.”
But while, by Miller’s standards, her cake wasn’t up to par, friends at her daughter’s party were impressed, encouraging Miller to pursue baking as a career. She started making cakes for others and in exchange for a free cake was given creative freedom, an opportunity to really hone her decorating skills and flavor combinations.
She began researching and watching YouTube videos about everything involving running a cake shop.
“I would just pour over every bit of information I could possibly find,” she said, eventually gathering enough courage to charge for her own cakes and getting her home licensed and inspected.
“It a really expensive hobby,” she said about why she started charging. “You have to have 100 things to make one cake.”
Miller hasn’t spent any money on advertising so far, spreading the word about her business through social media and word of mouth. Miller’s sister started a business page for Got What It Cakes and a personal page for Miller, since Miller was hesitant about jumping on the Facebook bandwagon. But after the page garnered some likes, Miller saw the advantage of the site.
“I always say joining Facebook was the best decision I never got to make for myself,” she said.
Miller kept the business at her home for five years because she was waiting for the perfect location to come at the perfect time. Also, with two children, “I put motherhood before boss” she said. She wanted to stay home with her kids – to be able to get them off the bus and pick them up from preschool.
Miller picked the Pineville location for her shop because of her familiarity of the area. She grew up in south Charlotte, and attended nearby Charlotte Catholic High School.
“There’s definitely some pros and cons,” she said of the location. “I love the vibe (of downtown Pineville). I love everything is within walking distance.”
The only negative for Miller is the shop can’t be seen from the main road, even though the address is Main Street.
“We’re just excited to be here and we want people to come visit us,” she said.
Got What It Cakes is currently open Monday and Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and Wednesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays are reserved for private consultations, and the shop is closed on Sunday. Miller hopes to expand her business hours once her daughter enters school. Find more information on the business at www.gotwhatitcakes.com, www.facebook.com/GotWhatItCakes or call 704-519-8747.