We had the good fortune of connecting with Jennifer Phung and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jennifer, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Before starting my business I didn’t think a lot about balancing my social life with work life. I’m not sure if it was because I was younger, or I didn’t feel like I needed to put thought about having balance between events. Now that I run a small business my perspective has changed dramatically. There is so much that goes behind running a small business and if I sit here and think about it all at once, it becomes overwhelming. That is the part that I learned about balancing, how and why I need to put an effort in it. I think about the balance being a great tool to have, and to learn. That way you are not burning yourself out and you get to still have a life outside of your business. One of the reasons on why I started a small business was to have more in control of my time for, family events, vacations etc. How can I do that if I didn’t learn and practice how to balance with everyday tasks.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Before I started C is for Cakes, I would often hear people say “The cake looked gorgeous but, it tasted terrible” Whenever I would ask people how was the cake at the event they attended to. That got embedded in me very quick and it just stayed. Whenever I started C is for Cakes the first thing I wanted to execute was not only to create beautiful cakes, I wanted to make cakes that tasted delicious as well. Over the time having experience in working in bakeries and restaurants I learned the quality and difference of ingredients. From that experience I applied that into my small business and I focus on having fresh and high quality ingredients to the cakes and pastries that I make. Having a cake to any celebration from baby showers, birthdays, weddings, etc. you are celebrating it with the people you love and care about. The fact that people choose me to make cakes and pastries for those events is beyond amazing and I want to share and provide nothing but the best to those who they love and care. I get to share that as a form of a cake, I just feel that is a win win for everybody.
Even though I have not been in business for a long time I do feel that I have grown a lot to where I am currently. It has come with its challenges, which opened a new world for me. To establish myself as an LLC, to opening a business account through a bank, to spend what feels like endless hours of researching the best prices and quality of materials and food. On top of that actually work on orders for clients and to still raise my son and try to squeeze in some self care and have a social life. It has been far from easy but, having a support group of friends and family has really helped me a lot. Asking for help is one of the things that has helped me over come challenges. Whether I’m asking someone to watch my son for a few hours while I make deliveries or pick up ingredients. To asking my other entrepreneur friends what has worked for them in their business or going over ideas with them to get their professional feedback. Even talking to other moms about kid products, what they used when their child was teething etc. It gave me a sense of not being overwhelmed with other aspects of my life, so when it came for me to overcome a solo obstacle I had the mindset to to accomplish it.
One of the lessons that I have learned along the way has been to have a healthy mindset. Once you change your mindset to be positive and confident in yourself, it reflects on your work and your business. No one wants to go to a business where the owner is grouchy all the time or that they don’t care. It makes you think if they don’t care about themselves or their business are they really going to care about me and my order? Another lesson for me at least was to be and stay organized. If my work area is unorganized it makes me feel that I am missing things, I don’t know where to start or that I have way too much to do. Feelings that usually would end up having me feel anxious and overwhelmed. I have tried different approaches of being organized until I found the one that fits best for my routine and it makes me feel I have a productive day and my orders are not going to be compromised. One other lesson that I have learned has been networking. Networking with different vendors that are in the same field as you. I am currently working my self up to be in the wedding game and therefore I started to network with florist, photographers, wedding venues, etc. with people that are in that scene. Not only I have made really great friendships and I’ve also met great people who are just trying to live out their dream just like me.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
One thing about me, I love food and food loves me. Let’s start with the savory. For some really great ramen I recommend TEN Ramen in Dallas. Even though it is extremely small and you are standing while eating you will not be disappointed with the ramen that gets prepared here. Next stop is Bull Daddy Noodle Bistro in Plano. If you want some heat this is the place to have Chinese and Taiwanese beef noodle soup. Now to get your yeeh and your haw you DEFINETLY need to stop by Pecan Lodge in Deep Ellum to have the BEST BBQ you’ll find in Dallas. If you want to enjoy a great bowl of Pho check out Pho Bang in Garland, their broth has a great flavor. For a mouth watering burger the spot for that is Hop Doddy, they have a couple locations so you don’t miss out. Now for the sweet part. Donut place you need to check out is The Salty Donut in the Bishop Arts District in Dallas. They have an Horchata donut that will have you thinking that it is okay to order another one. For some really exquisite chocolate go to CocoAndre Chocolatier& Horchateria which is also located in the Bishop Arts District in Dallas. They have a roseberry milk chocolate bar that will have you amazed on how great those flavors are beautifully combined. This place has accomplished the donut ice cream combo so well and that is Milk and Cream in Dallas. Now this place has some of the best beignets that I have had and that is Cajun Donuts II located in Garland, their donuts are amazing as well, To wrap it up with some coffee places, as a coffee lover it is really tough to choose but these are some of my favorite places. Starting with Eiland Coffee Roasters in Richardson. They roast some of the best coffee beans I have ever tasted, Now this place takes their coffee serious with having top shelf coffees, almost like trying really good whiskey, this is Native Coffee Co in Dallas. Peaberry in coffee makes iced coffee that you can drink from a can and their lavender oat coffee is heavenly. Last but not least their creative rotating flavors are just the best at Rosalind coffee in Garland.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Starting my journey to stop pursuing a medical career and began a culinary career was not easy. At times I felt alone and had no confidence in myself. Little did I know I had a WHOLE team behind me that were just ready for me to say “I’m going for it” in order for them to give me the strength, motivation and support that I needed. This might be a long list but with out these people I would have not be here making my dreams come true. So from the bottom of my heart I want to thank and shout out Mardy Ottesen-Hilton, she was my manager at a Pizza Hut that I worked at when I was 19. She was one of the first people that told me that life is too short not to do what I wanted to do. That there is no one else going to live my dream but me, and motivated me not to give up on it. Thank you Mardy. The next group of ladies helped me shape myself to become a leader and to learn more about myself as a person in order to achieve my goals. Those ladies are Stephanie Straub , Becky Lejarzar ,Veronica Medrano, Guadalupe Schaefer and Courtney Breitenstine, thank you ladies. I will also like to shout out my former pastry chef, who challenged me in my creative element, helped me to execute amazing pastries and who was patient with me while I was learning my step in my culinary career, thank you Diego Miguel. Of course last but definitely not least my big supporters who have been by side while I take this wild ride of becoming a small business owner. Here is a HUGE shout out to Izaiah Tlatenchi, Tuyet Nguyen, Evelyn Ken, Haley Sun, Estefanie Herrera, Patrick Phung, and Andrea Shipley. Thank you for supporting me, listening to me with whatever idea I have, for motivating me and for letting me make you guys pastries. To my biggest fan, or should I say my number one fan, the man who thought me to be fearless, reminded me to stay motivated, and who has not stopped being by my side thank you to my husband Phillip Phung. I am forever grateful for you.
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