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We made it an entire year! The cake shop turns 1!

Slikkepotten kakebutikk turned 1 in March!

We officially made it through the dreaded first year of business. It was a ridiculously hard year, between the many challenges of starting up a brand new business, the steep learning curve we endured, the frequent 80+ hour work weeks and oh yeah…having a baby(!), but we made it! We’ve been told over and over again how statistically most businesses fail within the first year, so we’re pretty proud of ourselves for managing to cross that threshold!

In April we had a little birthday party to celebrate with free cupcakes, discounts in the store, raffles for fun prizes and a little kids cake competition. You can see we’ve come a long way since opening last year!

(Cultural point of interest: You’ll see a lot of flags in the following pictures. It’s common to fly the Norwegian flag on special occasions like birthdays.)
Some highlights from this year:
  • Actually opening on time!
  • Getting a pretty good customer following
  • Being featured in the newspaper and local magazines multiple times
  • Hiring an employee
  • Taking on an intern
  • Installing an industrial dishwasher (we cried when we finally installed it! No more daily 2-hour dish routine!)
  • Installing an industrial oven (We also cried when we installed this one! No more 12 hour+ baking days using one home-size oven!)
  • Taking a Business of Baking course which was amazing and set us on a much better trajectory than we were on previously
  • Trip to the Cake International trade show in Birmingham to find new suppliers and be inspired by new trends
  • Surviving our first wedding cake season
  • Teaching lots of great classes

 

Now our little baby is growing up and entering puberty. We’re working on filling in the gaps in our brand, restructuring our internal systems to increase efficiency, adjusting to working with our new employees, and of course, figuring out how to handle everything with a new baby in tow. While I can’t say things have mellowed out or gotten any easier, we are working on hitting our stride. Hopefully good things are in store for the future!

 

Slikkepotten Grand Opening
On March 22nd we opened Slikkepotten kakebutikk’s doors to the public for the first time! It was such an exciting event! Loads of people turned up, we had hundreds of free cupcakes in our favorite flavors, there were raffles and giveaways, and overall just a ton of love and support! We are so grateful for all of you who came to celebrate with us that day!
Doing the official welcome speeches and ribbon cutting. We had to do it inside since it was POURING rain outside (in typical Stavanger fashion)
And we’re open for business!!

The hard work definitely hasn’t ended, but after such a successful grand opening day, we have high hopes for what the future of Slikkepotten kakebutikk has in store! Thank you again for all of you who offer us your continuing love and support!

 

Slikkepotten kakbutikk Buildout
Katrine and I had our work cut out for us once we took over the chocolate shop and began turning it into Slikkepotten kakebutikk. We had less than 3 weeks from getting the keys to our Grand Opening! The place was pretty dirty and needed a few new coats of paint. So we put the word out to all our friends in the area that we needed help and boy do we have amazing friends!
Since I knew I wouldn’t have the time to blog about this for a while, I took the time later that night to write down my thoughts about the day. I thought I’d share them now:
 
Tonight my heart is so incredibly full. I feel so unbelievably blessed and happy. What I thought was going to be a very stressful and exaughsting end to a very stressful and exhausting week turned out to be a day full of friendship and fun and an outpouring of the spirit.
This week was an extremely stressful week. I had 3 major cakes due before Wednesday, my first-ever cake decorating class to teach on Thursday, and five cakes due at the end of the week, on top of trying to get Slikkepotten up and running and launched. I averaged about 4 hours of sleep each night if I was lucky and felt in a constant state of panic.
Our new location was in desperate need of a scouring. It was awful and filthy and needed lots of paint and scrubbing. We knew there was no way we could do it all ourselves and still be able to make our grand opening deadline, so we created a Vennerdugnad (Norwegian for group service gathering thing) event to invite our friends to help out. We expected around 11 based on the response on Facebook and we were thrilled! We had a huge list drawn up and we figured with 11 people we’d be able to get most of it done. Yay!
This morning I had cakes to finish, so I showed up for the cleaning a little late. When I finally made it, I found the place PACKED. My friends and Katrine’s friends were already tackling the grime at an incredible rate! They would finish their jobs and beg for more! I was completely blown away! More filtered in throughout the day and I think when all was said and done we had at least 25 people who had come to help. We blew through the painting and the place was soon actually clean! Everyone was so cheerful and so willing to help us get even the worst tasks done without the slightest hesitation. A few ladies from church (Stephanie and Carrie) cleaned nasty closets, on top of pipes, and in the disgusting floor drains (places Katrine and I were afraid to touch) and wouldn’t let us tell them they didn’t have to clean there.Two of my Young Women beehives stayed and cleaned and painted and worked so hard for 7 full hours, and afterwards all they could talk about was how much fun they had getting the chance to serve. We laughed and all had a blast! They made friends with each other and the Norwegians helped the Americans with their Norsk and all everyone said was how much fun they were having. I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole day!
We quickly finished everything on the list Katrine and I had made (and hoped we MIGHT be able to finish) and still people were wanting to help so we started scrambling to find tasks for them to do that we couldn’t dream we’d actually be able to accomplish before opening, or even in the first year. The place looks absolutely incredible!
At one point all 8 of the missionaries showed up to help and they stayed until the last possible moment. They (and all the other ward members who came) brought such a wonderful spirit with them that people noticed. One of Katrine’s friends, while painting alongside the elders, began asking questions about the church because she “could see a glow about them”. Over half of the people that showed up were members from the ward and they defintiely made their presence known in the best possible way.
I can’t even express how utterly overwhelmed I feel right now by such an outpouring of friendship and support (I’m actually bawling a little bit as I’m writing this). Having so many people show up who were so supportive and excited about our little cake venture was awesome in the truest sense of the word. They all believed so much in what we are doing and were so excited for us that they were willing to give up an entire Saturday to get down and dirty to help us out. I often feel so stressed out and disheartened by this whole thing, so you all have no idea how much this meant to me. I often feel so inadequate and terrified of failing. But to see so many people who believed in us and supported what we are doing was more uplifting than you could ever imagine. It reminded me again of what a presence our Heavenly Father has in my life and how he blesses me in small ways that turn out to be huge ways. To you it might have just been a day of cleaning, but to me…I haven’t felt such an outpouring of love and service and freindship like this in a very long time. What I thought would be just a typical dugnad turned out to be a day I will treasure forever. I’m grateful I will be reminded of it everytime I walk into work and see the lovely paint job and know that we can start our cake shop fresh and clean. My heart is so full and I thank you all from the very bottom of my heart! I hope to be as good of a friend as all of you were to us today.

My favorite picture. All of our “helping hands”!
Of course we had to have cupcakes for all of our hard workers!
The day our signs went up! Chelsea’s Cool Cakes never got a sign, so I felt pretty legit!
Katrine pulling up the floor protection after all the painting was finally done.
Check out the difference in the tile grout after giving it a good scour! Eww!
Chris, the amazing husband that he is, pulling late hours to help us assemble all the tables and chairs that needed to go into the shop.
The shop slowly starting to take form!
The kitchen/cake decorating area coming together.

 

We worked and worked and worked, but we finally made it just in time for our Grand Opening! We seriously could NOT have done it without all of the amazing support of our family, friends, customers, and collegues who banded together to help in whatever way they could. We are eternally grateful to each and every one of you for all of your selfless acts of kindness and encouragement!

Slikkepotten Picnic
Katrine and I got the keys to our brand new shop on March 1st. We celebrated by having a little picnic in the new place with our families.
Keys!

It’s not much right now, but we hope to turn it into something fantastic!

Here’s to Slikkepotten kakebutikk!

 

Slikkepotten kakebutikk

Probably the biggest event of early 2014 for me and Chris was the announcement that Chelsea's Cool Cakes was merging with another company, Spiselige Kunstverk, to form Slikkepotten kakebutikk.

The merger had been a long time in the planning and finally came to fruition in March of 2014. Here's a little background:

Last year was mainly focused on getting Chelsea's Cool Cakes up and running as a functional business. It was a ton of work, but it finally got going! Then, sometime in the summer, my friend Katrine (who was running Spiselige Kunstverk, an online webshop importing and selling cake decorating supplies and classes) was helping me with a huge cupcake order and we were discussing our business goals and stresses. Somehow, we got on the topic of possibly merging our two companies to form a bigger company and take the stress out of running a business all by ourselves. I was initially quite skeptical of the idea, as I had put so much work into officially starting Chelsea's Cool Cakes and it had only been up and running for a few months, but over the next few weeks as we continued discussing it, it seemed like a better and better idea. So, after a lot of prayer and soul searching on my part, we officially decided to go for it.

We started looking at potential locations and figuring out all the nitty gritty legal details surrounding opening a new incorporated company. It was a very loooong process. After about 20 different names, we finally settled on Slikkepotten kakebutikk (Sleek-eh-poht-en cock-eh-boutique). A “slikkepott” is the Norwegian word for a rubber spatula used for baking and “kakebutikk” directly translates to “cake shop” so in English the name would be The Rubber Spatula Cake Shop. It doesn't sound so great in English, but “slikepotten” is considered a cute word in Norwegian. We get compliments on our name all the time here in Norway (in the US we get mostly raised eyebrows ;) )

After many locations fell through for various reasons, we finally locked one down in Sandnes, a town just south of Stavanger (just like Provo/Orem or Las Vegas/Henderson for all you guys back home). It was previously a chocolate shop so it was already setup quite well for our style of cake production. We got the keys on March 1st and started the intense process of semi-renovating it and making it our own, officially having our Grand Opening on March 22nd.

Slikkepotten's business model is designing and producing custom cakes, importing and selling cake decorating supplies, and teaching courses and masterclasses. It has been quite the journey getting it up and running, and even though at the time of writing this it has been open for a full six months, I feel like it still has a VERY long way to go. It has honestly been a rollercoaster of a year regarding the business. Even though I think giving up Chelsea's Cool Cakes was a fantastic decision (it has been SO SO SO much better having someone else to help run the business and opening Slikkepotten has given us so many more resources to expand both of our original business ideas), I'm still not sure I'm enjoying the process of being a business owner. I simultaneously feel immensely proud at what we have accomplished so far, and immensely stressed and overwhelmed by all there still is to do. At least once a week I feel excited by what the future has in store, and at least once I week a feel like all I want to do is quit.

Overall, it has been A LOT of very hard work and long, long hours with a lot of sacrifices on both my part and Chris' (I could NEVER have pulled this off if it wasn't for Chris' help and support. That definitely needs to be said). We're slowly plugging along though and hopefully good things continue to be in store for our little business! There will be many more posts on Slikkepotten kakebutikk in the future, I just wanted to use this space to give a little background before confusing you with details.

Stay tuned!