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You ever know someone and think they are super awesome? And then you realize that you really don’t know them, but wish you did b/c then they would be even more super awesome to you? Well, meet Tami Sawyer. I wish I knew her more; she’s so pretty, super friendly and has been an inspiration to me!
TamiCakes (Follow TamiCakes at @TamiCakesDC) is a delivery-based boutique cupcake bakery based in the Washington, D.C. area. The company has been around for about two years and is known for its delicious confections, trendy style and clever cupcake names. I would love to share the story of how I met her, but I really don’t remember (I’m getting old I tell ya!). I will, however, share some of HER story and the story of those little heaven filled concoctions we call TamiCakes.
The pictures above are from her Cupcake Wars watch party last month in DC. She and Michelle Ogden (owner of Posh Pastries (Follow Michelle at @PoshPastriesDC)) were blessed with the opportunity to be on the show and we all gathered to support them. Although they didn’t win the overall prize, you couldn’t tell from the cheering and fist pumping. Check out the pictures above and grab a drink, sit back, and allow me to introduce you to the creator of TamiCakes.
What’s the story of TamiCakes? I came to DC to be a lawyer. After my first summer of being an associate, I knew law school wasn’t for me and so I withdrew. I worked for the Navy as an event planner and event planner and became involved in the DC nightlife scene learning about the culture and making contacts. TamiCakes came about from my love for baking. Quick Story: During my first Christmas break at Hampton Univ., I sent boxes of cookies to all of my friends, including a huge box to my then boyfriend; I wanted his mother to see how awesome this southern girl was. It worked (although the relationship didn’t) and she loved them and me!
From Passion to Business – A couple of years ago, I gave a close friend about a dozen or so cookies for his birthday. And just for kicks, I put “TamiCakes” on the box I gave him. He told me that when he was leaving, several people stopped him to get a cupcake and asked him where they were from and if he had gotten them from a food truck. So he told me “Tami, if you don’t make this a business, I’m going to do it for you.” Also, the week after that, I gave away some samples at a local cake bake off and that further fueled my drive. And today, I just want to continue doing what I love. My vision is for TamiCakes to be a media enterprise, incorporating baking, entertainment and teaching in many ways.
How important have teams and networks been for you as a small business owner? Networking and having a team is everything to a small business owner. I am not able to pay a large staff, so having a group of people who will help out for perks and just because they’re my friends is everything. One of the ways I can pay them is with appreciation and I try to show that as often and publicly as possible. I also bring people with me on my journey, start-up graphic designers, other bakers, etc; the stronger my team, the more successful we all are. Association is important – I like to associate with strivers, go-getters and winners in hopes of inspiring others to do the same.
Unfortunately, you were eliminated from the show’s competition pretty early on. What were your feelings and how did you use that situation as motivation? A lot of preparation went into the show and I did not expect to be eliminated when I was, so I was very emotional afterwards. A conversation with my dad helped to put things into perspective for me. Fortunately, my dad helped me to understand that the competition was a gift and not a curse. So, even though I was not the winner, being on the Food Network has opened many doors for the business. Also, how many bakers do we know that can say they’ve been on the station? The motivation that I took from that was to keep doing what I’m doing and to show the judges and doubters how great my products and my brand really are. One of the most important lessons I learned was about jumping back in the saddle. When I got home from LA, I didn’t want to even look at a cupcake. I had to move past those feelings because my business would have just fallen apart. There are people who were on my episode who aren’t even baking anymore. That could have been me if I had let myself wallow for too long in my negative feelings.
What advice do you give others who have dreams concerning stepping out on faith to pursue their passions? I posted a quote from Rev Run on my Facebook page recently: “Better a has-been than a never-was. But better a never-was than a never-tried-to-be.” Now I’m sure Rev Run quoted someone, but I think that quote speaks volumes. I will try and if I fail, I will try again. If you have dreams, wake up and live them. Life’s too short to just wish and hope and pray without action. God doesn’t want us to pray and not do. He wants us to pray, have faith that He heard us and then roll out and make it happen. Just do it.
What’s next for you and TamiCakes? Great things are on the horizon. I have a radio show starting in July called Cake Life. It will marry baking tips, music and pop culture, similar to the aesthetic of TamiCakes. I will continue to get the word about TamiCakes out to the masses. I also have a goal of operating out of a shop within a year. And hopefully, MORE TV!!
There you have it folks. Tami, I think you just made me excited and pumped up to continue pursuing my own dreams! Oh, you also have me sitting here with a sweet tooth!
Today, I’m thankful for friends who support us just because they love us … and for bridge builders like Tami Sawyer. God bless.