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Conversations with Lori McConnell

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lori McConnell.

Hi Lori, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
Somewhere around 2000, I took a Wilton cake decorating class for fun at a local craft store in Cool Springs. At that time I was working as a pediatric RN and I would bring my leftover class projects to work so I wouldn’t eat the whole thing! People started asking me to make cakes for employee birthdays and that transitioned to employees’ kids, and before I knew it people were kind of spreading my name to their friends and family. Eventually, I left nursing due to some health issues, but I kept the cake business going and a few years later I added decorated cookies to the mix.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I think my big struggle has been charging my worth. When I started out I was just shocked people wanted to buy things from me, but as I got busier and busier because I was charging so little I got burned out and had to take time off. I’m definitely doing better with that today and being connected with other cake and cookie business owners has helped a lot. They have taught me that not everyone is your customer and to not let that affect your belief in yourself or your work. It’s great that there are a wide variety of places out there for everyone’s budget, but my work is custom so it’s unfair for me to compare myself with mass-produced items you can buy at grocery stores.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I specialize in custom cakes, cookies, and cupcakes. I’m not sure what I am known for but I hope it’s for creations that taste just as good as they look! I love that my decorated cookies have a base layer of soft icing under the royal icing decorations. I think that really sets mine apart from others in the decorated sugar cookie realm. I’m also happy to say all my cakes, cookies, and icing are made from scratch.

One of the things I’m most proud of is my ability to make 3D fondant creations like animals or other decorations for cake toppers. I love the challenge of learning new things and being a bit of a perfectionist, if I don’t know how to do something I will scour YouTube and the internet for tutorials. In the early days it never occurred to me I could say no… so I just took everything on as a challenge and figured it out. Now I know even the best cake designers out there don’t always say yes to everything.

What’s next?
I’m not sure what my plans are for the future. With some changes in my life, I am considering going back to nursing and learning how I could possibly do my cake business and nursing at the same time. Being creative is an important outlet for emotions and I never want to give that up.

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