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Conversations with Julie Berryman

Today we’d like to introduce you to Julie Berryman.

Hi Julie, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I started baking and decorating cakes as a hobby in the early 1980s. In 2009, I was enjoying a successful career in Real Estate investing and sales. I had rental properties and was working on a 100 year old house to flip when the market crashed and the economy tanked. People everywhere were losing their jobs and unable to pay rent. Then in 2010, Nashville had a great flood where 3 of my rentals were badly damaged. I suddenly found myself single with no income, 3 mortgages and 3 sets of utility bills. So, I turned back to my passion and I began to bake again. I took samples to local businesses, church events and every potluck I could get an invitation to. Basically, I fed cake to anyone who would open their mouth, lol. Selling cakes and cupcakes helped me pay the bills until I could get a real salaried job again but this time I didn’t stop baking.

In 2014, I found out both of my parents were terminally ill and needed constant care. Once again, I turned to my love of baking to help pay the bills. Baking enabled me to quit my then cushy corporate job in Real Estate so I could care of my parents until their passing. After they passed I felt like God was blessing me for the sacrifice of my time, honoring my parents when they needed me, because the phone started to ring with clients asking for more cake.

I had to see where this could go if I really applied myself. So I took my savings and a huge leap of faith and built a commercial kitchen behind my home. I got licensed and inspected by the local authorities and put together a marketing plan. Next, I began baking samples and presenting my work to wedding vendors in the area. I started a referral program with punchcards and learned how to use the ever growing FaceBook, lol. Fast forward to 2019; I was asked to make the wedding cake for a popular country music couple which was published in People Magazine. Shortly after I began researching how to apply for Food competition shows and was honored to be chosen for a Food Network episode.

I am so thankful and have been extremely blessed to have had great mentors & friends who have encouraged me along the way.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
There is no smooth road in Entrepreneurship even if you start out with a ton of start up capital, which I did not have. Some of the biggest struggles have been the growing pains. I often start baking at 2 am and work 16- 18hrs. a day and that is the easy part. But to do that and still have to turn away an amazing client because you can only do so much just hurts my heart. So for me, the hardest part is the pain going from one growth ceiling to the next, where you really need to hire more help but you just can’t afford to yet. And you are already maxed out with your own ability to do more. When you have precious loyal clients and have to tell them you can’t possibly fit in another order, it hurts.

Then there is always the second guessing every business decision….. should I buy the refrigerated van or should I not, etc.

Also, I had never had any formal training and Imposter Syndrome is a real thing…… so I went to culinary school in 2018 at the age of 49 and proudly gratuated as a Chef in 2020.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
At CraziCakes we create sweet centerpieces that help you make your celerations unforgettable! They not only taste amazing but your guests will never stop talking about them and the party you hosted. We specialize in 3D and /or gravity defying cakes and beautiful wedding cakes. Although that’s what we are most known for we now offer many other amazing desserts and sweet treats as well.

We’d love to hear about how you think about risk taking?
Yes although I believe in running my business with red light green light financial gauges ie… red light when you don’t have expenses plus cushion in the bank, I also believe you have to take calculated risks in order to grow. It was a risk for me to build a large commercial kitchen in my backyard instead of opening a storefront. AND it has paid off because the increasingly higher rents in Nashville have put so many out of business. Then there was COVID -19 and we all know what that did to the food and wedding industry. Again, I am blessed.

It was a risk for me to buy a refrigerated van but now I can successfully deliver larger and more weddings cake. We are currently doing 9-10 weddings per weekend along with our celebration cakes & treats.

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Julie Berryman

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