Name: Noelle Lukenda
Business/Location: Sweet Treats by Noelle/New Jersey
Specialty: Italian Seven Layer Cookies — I turn them into donuts, crumb cake, and dessert pizzas!
What problem does your business solve?: Sweet Treats by Noelle satisfies any kind of sweet tooth! My treats range from deep and decadent, to light and fluffy, as well as anything in between.
What makes your business unique?: I do not currently have a storefront. All sales are made through my Etsy page, or through word of mouth. I bake all treats out of a commercial kitchen in North Jersey, and everything's made to order, with fresh ingredients and no preservatives.
What’s your story?: I have always loved to bake. When it came time to apply to college, I was planning on going to Culinary School, but at the last second changed my mind, and got a degree in Hospitality & Event Management. I baked throughout college for fun, and about a year after graduation, my parents asked why I was not selling my products. I racked my brain thinking of a way to get my name out there, while still keeping my full time job in event planning. I determined that Etsy was the best route! I have been lucky enough to do a few events with local food bloggers, etc., so that has been very helpful in getting my name out there. I hope to be able to open a small bakery over the next few years, but for now I am really enjoying this part of the journey.
One piece of advice you have for other food entrepreneurs: Things take time! It is important to separate your long term goals from your short term goals to avoid getting overwhelmed. I keep a running list of ideas that I have, and while I really want to set some of them into motion, I do not have the resources to do so quite yet.
What do you wish you had known before you started your business?: You will not be able to please everyone. Everyone has different opinions and expectations, and they don't always align with yours. It is important to see criticism as constructive and to not let roadblocks get you down. Things will not always go according to plan, and you may not have a back up plan. Patience and an open mind are crucial.
What’s your greatest challenge in your business and how are you overcoming it?: My biggest challenge at the moment is packaging and shipping. I package all of my treats by hand, which takes time, and hand deliver orders that are local. The rest I send via USPS. Being that I still have a full time job, the orders I deliver myself have to be delivered in the early morning, or late at night, which is sometimes a challenge for the client. I am lucky enough to have friends and family who can help with deliveries when I need it. I would like to eventually work with a messenger service, but for right now, the greatest challenge is just a matter of me scheduling out my days.
What are you most proud of about your business?: I am proud of myself for being able to split my time between my full time job and my baking business. I work in event planning, so when I have orders, I am usually baking in the early morning before work, or late at night when I get home. It is exhausting at times, but I love seeing the final product come to life, and how happy it makes the clients.
What do you love most about being a food entrepreneur? The sky is the limit when creating a dessert! I love when people come to me with a custom request because sometimes these are ideas I would have never thought of. When I first opened my Etsy page, I was selling Italian Seven Layer cookies, like you would find in a bakery. When I came up with the idea to turn them into a donut (called Doughbows), people started reaching out to ask if I could change the colors of the cake and the chocolate that they are dipped in to match the theme of their event! My favorite request to date would have to be the Unicorn Doughbows, which I created for a 5th party birthday. Instead of making them with the traditional red, white, and green cake, I used neon pink, purple, and blue cake dipped in white chocolate with rainbow sprinkles on top!
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