If there is one thing America will never lose, no matter how low the economy sinks, it’s our entrepreneurial spirit. Artists, writers, inventors, designers . . . Americans have been taught for generations to follow our dreams. This constant entrepreneurship is the cornerstone of the American business archetype – it is also the envy of global industry leaders around the world. But there is a difference between the “get rich quick” schemes and actually following your heart’s desire.
In my sexy Victorian romance “Whisked Away” our heroine, Virginia Clarke, has just graduated from the New York Cooking School (originally established in 1867 by Julia Corson, specifically for working-class women in hopes that they find employment using their education) with aspirations of being a pastry chef.
Meanwhile, back in the present 😉 my friend and fellow rabid Jude Deveraux fan, Chrys Wilkins, owns a bakery in Indianapolis, Indiana called “All Mixed Up” (and yes, they ship most of their goodies!) Please help me welcome Chrys Wilkins!
GdG: Hi Chrys – Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today!
CW: Hey Genella!! The pleasure is all mine. Totally not just saying that either. 🙂
GdG: So tell us, what enticed you to open a bakery?
CW: Well, I have always loved to bake and to cook. Then one day I came across this book called “Cakepops”. I decided to try and make them. It was a success. Then everyone I know kept telling me I should have my own bakery. Not just because of the cakepops, believe me, they have had my baked goods before, just this time I let it all sink in. I thought why not work at something I enjoy doing for once.
GdG: Sounds like a tasty plan – 🙂 Now, it was bad enough that while I wrote my book, “Whisked Away” that I probably gained ten pounds just doing the research, LOL – but I can’t imagine being around yummy foodieness all day long! How do you do it?
CW: Surprisingly enough, it’s easy. The more I am around it, the less I eat. I experiment with new recipes all the time, and I think that after I do my taste testing that I am just not in the mood to eat the treats. But I have plenty of volunteers to be my test group. 🙂
GdG: Ha! Yeah, I’ll bet! Where did you pick up your love of cooking?
CW: I would have to say my Father. He is retired from the Army and is now a teacher. But a bunch of his free minutes are spent watching the Food Network and experimenting with his own recipes. Meal recipes, not baking ones like me.
GdG: Very cool. Where (if anywhere) did you learn your craft?
CW: Mostly watching my grandmother and my aunt bake around the holidays. Other things I have learned were either self taught or by practicing recipes that I enjoyed.
GdG: Your website says that you recipes have been handed down in your family for generations. Has anyone in your family ever owned a bakery or restaurant?
CW: Nope. Not a one. I am the first one to take the risk.
GdG: Sweet – no pun intended. 😉 Are you the only one who cooks at All Mixed Up? What time do you get up in the morning?
CW: I am the only one who does the baking on a regular basis, but I do have helpers who come in to help me with the bigger orders. I usually get up around 4 am.
GdG: 4 AM is way too early, unless one is excited about their day. 🙂 Please share with us your marketing techniques.
CW: Word of mouth is my number one advertisement. Also, when someone orders from me they take extra of my business cards with them. Referrals are another of my main clients. I also run contests on my Facebook site and Coupons on my Bakery site.
GdG: Nice! Your website says “We do custom made orders as well as have our own custom made items. Basically, if you can dream it, we can make it.” Can you tell us about some of your favorite sweets to make and perhaps tell us what people have asked for?
CW: I love making Caramel Swirled Creams. You know the old fashioned cream filled caramels? They have to be done just right, but they are fun to make. I also love making new designs for Cakepops. My most popular items have been the Cakepops, Caramels, Fudge, Cakes and Dessertizers. Dessertizers are miniature cakes that look like coffee, shakes, ice cream and I even have one that looks like a Bloody Mary drink.
GdG: Drooling* Where would you like to see yourself business-wise in 5 years?
CW: I would love to have my own store front location, with secret rooms in the back for nifty parties. I would also like for it to have a nice outdoor dining area where people could relax and enjoy my treats.
GdG: How fun would that be? 🙂 Would you please provide your website and any other info you may wish to share about All Mixed Up?
CW: (website no longer exists.) I am still constructing it. I would like to announce that the new Christmas Gift Basket Area is almost finished. I am hoping for a big Christmas Gift order to really get the store going.
GdG: I also understand that in addition to your bakery, you sell Avon. Gotta love a gal with that good ol’ American entrepreneurial spirit!
Readers, if you haven’t checked out Avon lately you really should. Besides their awesome beauty products, they have lovely unique jewelry, and gifts at fantastic prices for everyone in the family.
Chrys, would you please provide us with your Avon link?
CW: I would love too. It’s www.youravon.com/chryswilkins I love that I can sell Avon anywhere in the world thanks to my site. I have met even more people that way.
GdG: And don’t forget peeps, anyone can sign up under Chrys to sell Avon – she seems like a great person to network with and I’ll bet she’d be a fantastic leader with lots of valuable advice.