We had the good fortune of connecting with Marian Kreul and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Marian, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
It’s funny, because I honestly refer to myself as a “reluctant business owner.” I say that only because the business aspect is mostly an afterthought to the creative aspect. I grew up with a mom and grandmothers that baked from scratch. I still remember some of the birthday cakes my mom made for us as kids, and the amount of love that went into them. That feeling that someone had made something so special, just for me. I tried to replicate that feeling for my step kids when they were teenagers, because I felt so acutely that they should have a special, homemade cake on their birthday, just like my mom always made for me. Then, when my own kids were babies, I really dived into the decorating aspect and I was hooked. I made cakes for family, friends, neighbors… anyone I could think of! I referred to myself as “The crazy cake lady,” because I would chase my neighbors down in their driveways with decorated treats on a regular basis. Word spread that there was a crazy cake lady in the neighborhood, and it just grew from there. I started a business because I wanted to create more cakes for more people. I still get a high from people’s reactions to their cakes. People have teared up, laughed, and jumped up and down when they’ve received their special creation, and there’s no better feeling than to have played a part in creating that happiness.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
The most important thing about what I do, is that my art has to not only look good, it has to taste good! As a home based (also known as cottage foods) producer, there is a strict set of guidelines in which I operate under. So, there are items that I cannot legally make, which does limit me at times. Creativity is key, however, and I feel that is a small price to pay for the ability to operate out of my home, on my schedule. I am really proud to say that I have a thriving business that operates under the Colorado Cottage Food laws. I look at success a bit differently than most, I think. It may sound unusual, but it’s really important to me to be in control of my business growth, rather than have an explosion of business. I don’t advertise- I want my growth to be slow, organic and personal. First and foremost, my main goal in life is be a present and active mom and wife. I have little kids, and I want all the time I can have with them. This is why my business model is what it is. The most import thing I’ve learned is that I can’t mass produce quality cakes, give my family the time they need, and have the personal, meaningful relationship that I want to have with my clients. Occasionally, I do have to decline orders because it’s just not possible to maintain the quality of work and the quality of life that I need in order to be my best for my family and my clients. This is really hard for me, I want to accommodate everyone. I love my work, and I want people to know that when I’m creating something for them, it’s made with a love and an attention to detail that can only come from the personalized approach of a small business that cares intimately about every detail.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
There’s so much to do when there’s no Coronavirus to worry about! Food is always a big one for me. Abuelo’s Mexican restaurant, Catalina’s Diner, and Isabelle’s Coffee Shop are musts in Elizabeth, where I live. The Denver Zoo, the Children’s Museum, and the Museum of Nature and Science are always a blast. Of course you always have to drive through the mountains- up through Kenosha Pass is always my favorite, any time of year. There’s never a shortage of beautiful places to drive in Colorado. 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?
Oh man, I have had so much support that I almost feel undeserving of! My husband has supported me unconditionally. He has done the dishes after nights where I worked so late that I couldn’t bring myself to stay up another minute. He has wiped every color of icing off of every surface in our kitchen. My entire family, both my side and my husband’s side, have given me so much love, encouragement and positivity, both when I have been on the top of the world and when I’ve been struggling. They have also been my test dummies time and time again. I am fortunate enough to have the absolute best customers imaginable – their feedback, recommendations, and return business are my only advertising. I appreciate them more than they could possibly know! Mary Anne Stephens, my best friend and fellow small business owner inspires me endlessly, and is my “kick in the pants” when I’m struggling with balancing business ownership and being a full time mom to my young kids. The Elizabeth Networking Group and Jenny West really got me out of my sometimes impenetrable comfort zone, and connected me with some absolutely wonderful customers and fellow business owners in my community. I truly can’t thank everyone enough!
Mary Anne Stephens Photography