For our May spotlight, we spoke with Renata Papadopolous, owner of Lovely Cakes.

Lovely Cakes is a competition-winning bakery in Stratford, Connecticut. The bakery offers a variety of confections for any event, including birthdays, weddings, religious celebrations, and more. Lovely Cakes prides itself on the desire to continue learning and creating lovely confections for any occasion. 

Can you tell me a little bit about Lovely Cakes?

Lovely Cakes is 16 years old. I started baking from home for my kids, nieces, and nephews for their birthdays and such. But then, more and more people started asking me to bake for them. From there, Lovely Cakes quickly grew. 

I originally created a studio in the garage where I would bake after putting the kids to bed. Then, I started using rental kitchens because we outgrew the garage. Eventually, we built our own building, where we have been for the past six years. 

What was your motivation behind baking and starting your own company?

Basically, it was something I really enjoyed. It doesn’t seem like a long time ago, but it was. There were no YouTube tutorials or other things to teach me. I taught myself to bake, to decorate—all of it. So once I started to push myself to make cakes and figurines, I realized I could. I didn’t go to school for any of it. Not the baking, or decorating, or business. I learned it all on my own, one step at a time.

Then, we decided to enter the wedding industry. I was still baking from home, so the wedding industry was difficult. Getting business when you don’t have your own storefront was hard, but we did it.

Right about the same year the Food Network started the competition shows, it became a goal of mine to enter a competition. When we got onto Cake Wars, it was at just the right time. We had just opened up our physical location, and we needed that little push. So, winning Cake Wars was great for us. It really gave us the push we needed. 

Renata Papadopolous stands next to her winning cake from Food Network's Cake Wars.

What is your favorite part of running your own business?

Now, there are so many aspects I enjoy. The designing and decorating—basically everything but the baking anymore. I really enjoy decorating. It allows me to be creative. I love making flowers, butterflies, and whimsical cakes. Those are my favorites. 

I also really enjoy the marketing side of the business. Any time I can make pamphlets, editorials, or something that lets me be creative, I enjoy it. I didn’t think I would, but it goes back to that creativity with the decorating.

Do you have a favorite cake you have ever made, or a favorite celebration you love to create confections for?

I mean, the one thing I say about cake is: There are so many desserts out there, but cake is the only one that people gather around. With birthday parties, the cake is a big part of it. You’re helping to make extra special memories, and I love that. Birthdays are still my favorite celebrations. 

But, wedding cakes are also great. Symbolically, the bride and groom join hands to cut the cake because it’s their first act together as husband and wife. Their cake is the first thing they do as a married couple. I love being able to make something special because of that symbolism. 

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What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a business owner?

The biggest challenge right now is finding people to hire. Now that the country has opened, we have last year’s events and this year’s events. We have a lot of events we are baking for and not enough hands to help. 

It’s also difficult finding the right people to join my team. It’s the biggest problem right now. 

How does Patriot’s Full Service Payroll help you run your business?

The customer service has been amazing. Every issue is resolved. People follow up. Tax forms are handled, figured out, and promptly responded to. I didn’t have to make a call back because I received a response so quickly. 

I would say Patriot has excellent customer service. Especially for someone like me. I worked by myself for many years. All of payroll was still very new to me when I started hiring people. I knew there was no way I could do it by myself, but my business was so small. So, I did a lot of research and found Patriot. 

I joined not knowing if it was going to be good. But, Patriot had the best price and amazing customer service. 

When it comes to your business, what are you most proud of?

I would say I am the most proud of the growth that I was able to accomplish. I went from starting something on my own, working after kids were asleep, to having my own location that helps other people, too. 

I have multiple employees, and my business is what gives them their own income. I started timidly, but now my business is part of something bigger. Something that helps other people and is more than me in my garage. 

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Can you tell me a little bit about what you like to do outside of running your business?

Travel. We try to travel whenever I have a break from Lovely Cakes. My husband is a pilot, and I am from Brazil. I am always trying to go visit my family in Brazil. Thankfully, we’ve been able to travel even through this past year, and I try to go down to visit for two or three days at a time. It’s the number one thing I love to do. 

Because I am from Brazil, the northeast weather is very different from what I’m used to. So, any time I can get somewhere with some sun, that’s my favorite thing. I am trying to fly home to see my family again soon, too. I’ve been very lucky that I have been able to go see them. 

What words of advice or encouragement would you give to someone wanting to start their own business?

My advice is: To start a business can be very overwhelming with things like all the taxes. Do one little step every day. Complete one line on a form. Make one phone call. Send one email. Every day, you do one thing. If you do one thing consistently every day, you will get ahead. 

It can be very overwhelming to look at all of the steps at once, but as long as you take one step a day, you’ll get there. 

Connect with Lovely Cakes:

Images courtesy of Renata Papadopolous.

About Patriot Software

At Patriot Software, we’re committed to providing accounting software and payroll that lets small business owners keep their time and money for what they love: running their business! Our #PatriotSpotlight customer success stories celebrate and inspire U.S. small business owners across the country.