SEEING the bursts of pure joy, excitement and satisfaction from a client is what Janelle Joyeux lives for Sweetdreams Custom Cakes, which she’s had for 13 years,and specialises in serving up anything that can be laid on a dessert table with a unique touch to each masterpiece.
“It’s about giving all that you have and then a little extra. But doing this everyday doesn’t feel like work because it’s what I truly love to do,” says Janelle.
Although Janelle grew up in a home of bakers and cooks, it wasn’t always her dream to follow the footsteps of her aunt and mother. Dazzle Magazine was lucky to get a spot in her busy schedule to learn more about her compelling story.
How did Sweetdreams Custom Cakes start off?
Janelle: My mom gave me my first cookbook when I was seven years old. I started baking from it back then and it’s something I still have and cherish to this day.
It all started as a hobby when I had my daughter 13 years ago. On her first birthday party I started baking, just for her. Then I began sharing what I created on social media. Back then, custom cakes weren’t popular but people gravitated toward what I was doing and requests started coming in. The rest is history.
What was your inspiration when starting off?
Janelle: Initially, my daughter was my only inspiration. Back then I wasn’t fully aware that baking was my passion. It was simply something I did so we could live comfortably and so that I could give her the opportunity to do ballet, swimming or whatever her heart’s desire was at the time. Baking wasn’t something that got me out of bed on a morning just because I loved it. It is now and hopefully, it will be till I retire.
Right now though, inspiration comes from the wider world around me, especially the internet. Early on I admired the ‘Ace of Cakes’ show. The host had a technical background just like me, but he only did custom cakes. Seeing that gave me the idea that if I stood out from what was being offered in St. Lucia I could go somewhere with it. So I committed to trying new things in everything I created.
You have a technical background, why did you choose this career path?
Janelle: I don’t think I chose it … it chose me! After leaving Castries Comprehensive Secondary School, I earned my diploma in architecture at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College but because of things beyond my control I ended up moving away from the technical aspect of it over the years.
What’s a typical day like for you as an entrepreneur?
Janelle: The first thing I have to be on a morning is a mom. Once I get my daughter ready for school and drop her off I head back home. When I do, I’m then in the mindset to work and not just relax.
My business day is supposed to run from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. but that isn’t always what happens. As a small business person you work constantly, 24-7. There are no breaks in between. There’s constant phone calls, marketing, networking, accounting, and other things that need to be done day-to-day.
What challenges do you face and how do you overcome them?
Janelle: Wedding cakes were never something that I wanted to do. I wasn’t confident in being able to match the bride and groom’s expectations where everything is supposed to be perfect on their special day. My biggest challenge was actually putting together a seven-tier wedding cake, which I luckily completed to the clients’ satisfaction.
In fact, every time I complete a cake order I take photos of it to see how I’ve grown over the years. I tend to look back on them and see how I could improve on them. I don’t like to make duplicates because it’s meant to speak to the individual and be uniquely theirs. But most of all, it’s supposed to tell a story.
If you could change one thing about your journey so far, what would it be?
Janelle: Absolutely nothing. I think that every error and every challenge that has come my way has made me a better person and entrepreneur. These challenges have shaped what Sweetdreams is all about today. If I didn’t go through those trials then I wouldn’t know what it was like and what it takes to accomplish certain things in difficult situations. I believe God always has a plan and he takes you on the path you should be when it’s the right time.
What advice would you give to a younger version of yourself?
Janelle: My advice would be to take on this business only as a passion and not as a way out. When you face hurdles, your passion will drive you and you won’t give up easily.
Never get angry and frustrated because it’s not working out the way you wanted it to. Take heart and overcome these hurdles so that you can look back and feel proud that you stuck with it till the end. Also, you have to remember why you started and where you want to go in the end. It’s good to have a vision board so that you can visualise your goals so you feel more confident about working toward them.
I’ve learned that when you are doing something you love, it’s not a ‘job’ anymore because you put your passion into everything that you do.