September 28, 2023


Be INvestment Confident

How Netflix superior-university grad developed up a $100,000 small business

Justin Ellen found himself at a difficult crossroad when he was 17 — must he pursue his passion for baking full-time, or go to faculty to further more his education and learning?

At that time, the youngest contestant of Netflix’s common baking demonstrate was generating custom made cakes from property as a facet-hustle, whilst also juggling with faculty.

He was bringing dwelling at least $5,000 a thirty day period, but he couldn’t enable but compare himself to his friends.

“The point that received me down was like, I was observing all my pals [apply for colleges].”

Even so, the young movie star baker trapped to his guns, believing that “everyone has their own route.”

Just two decades later, the whole-time entrepreneur and owner of cake organization, Anything Just Baked, is earning much more than $100,000 a calendar year — and he’s not turning again.

In March this yr, he designed his debut on Netflix’s “Is It Cake?” — a baking contest where by cake artists develop edible replicas of everyday objects, this sort of as bowling pins and stitching equipment.

The demonstrate, which premiered on the streaming assistance on March 18, was in the Leading 10 most-watched listing in the U.S. for 4 months. It also raked in additional than 100 million hours of sights from all over the earth.

But the path of good results is not devoid of failures, Ellen tells CNBC Make It. Sheer tough work and clever terms from loved kinds also helped prod him alongside.

‘Who manufactured this cake?’

As a electronic native, Ellen realized from the get started that possessing a social media presence would be critical in making his business. But it took a great deal of observe — and braveness — to make himself regarded. 

“In the starting, my social media was not wonderful … not wonderful pics, they ended up quite blurry. But as I kept on progressing, I recognized they have to be super thoroughly clean.”

Ellen also noticed that Instagram was “definitely pushing” video material on the platform and that’s when he made the decision to transform the digicam on himself, sharing snippets of his lifestyle as a young baker. 

“I was undoubtedly shy in the starting for the reason that it was just awkward for me … but the far more you do it, it truly is like, oh perfectly and actually no 1 cares if your hair’s a minimal frizzy right now,” he shared.

“Truthfully, it would make you much more relatable. Persons want to know the particular person behind the manufacturer and if they delight in you, they’re gonna want to expend dollars with you.”

Even so, Ellen reported that publishing on social media was one thing he “didn’t choose severely” at the begin.

“I was just publishing for exciting. Finally, [through] phrase of mouth … people kept inquiring ‘Can I buy a cake?'”

Ellen also bit by bit constructed his pursuing and clientele by baking every time he had the opportunity, even if it was for family events.

“It won’t even have to be a big cake … just make one thing tiny mainly because you don’t know who’s going to be there. Someone’s going to eat it and request, ‘Who created this cake?'”

People are shopping for designer purses for hundreds of pounds. You have received to make your prospects comprehend the really worth in your brand name and what you are supplying them …

Justin Ellen

Owner, Anything Just Baked

Prior to he knew it, he experienced around 50,000 followers on Instagram and was earning about $5,000 to $9,000 a thirty day period in high school.

“I realized, wow, this could be a really serious small business.”

From baker to entrepreneur  

As he noticed his facet hustle obtain momentum in significant university, Ellen began contemplating about pursuing baking as a occupation. But not everyone accepted.

“My father was like, a baker? I sense like you will find a connotation [with baking] like, ‘Oh, you you should not make a good deal of money’ or ‘You have to do a great deal of get the job done,'” he said.

But Ellen had larger options for himself.

“I recognized that I failed to have to consider tiny. There’s so a great deal you could do in the discipline … imagine about each lane you could go into.”

“I seemed at other bakers who produced their business — they have solution traces, which I had no strategy that which is one thing you can even do.”

It was close to this time that Ellen, like his pals all-around him, experienced to imagine about what is future just after large faculty.

“Probably close to junior 12 months, when everyone’s like searching for colleges … I was debating [about] going to culinary school. [But] I recognized it was not for me,” he claimed.

If you want to be a baker, then go get the job done for someone else.

Justin Ellen

Operator, Anything Just Baked

“I just felt like it wasn’t worthy of it and it was a great deal of dollars. And you are not able to seriously train how to do art in a feeling, it is really seriously just practice — and the far more you observe, the easier it is heading to get.”

That was the pivotal moment for Ellen, who recognized he was not just a baker in substantial college anymore.

“[I’m an] entrepreneur initial, then a baker. If you want to be a baker, then go function for another person else.”

Greatest small business tips

Social media may possibly have been “wholly free of charge” to use as a sort of promoting, but Ellen necessary assist with the original capital to get his business up and managing.

“In the commencing I was marketing cookies that I transported out … I questioned my mother and father for $500 to get packing containers and other products.”

That was the very first and final time he ever questioned his mother and father for dollars for his business, he said.

Functioning a business enterprise is expensive. You really don’t want to waste income just because you think you have a very good strategy.

Justin Ellen

Operator, Almost everything Just Baked