Madison, Wisconsin, franchisee’s successful bakery is personally and professionally rewarding
For Gigi’s Cupcakes franchise owner, Stephanie Easterling, her memories of childhood and baking are virtually inseparable. Family time meant being together in the kitchen, cooking and eating. Professionally, Stephanie trained as a CPA but wanted an outlet for creative expression and the opportunity to use her sales and marketing skills. When a Gigi’s Cupcakes came on the market in Madison, Wisconsin, almost two years ago, she jumped at the chance to own it.
“I saw Gigi’s being a really good fit for me — with my love of cooking and baking,” Stephanie says. “I knew that franchising with Gigi’s would mean I would have support from the franchisor, but I would also have some ability to be creative with my own business, as well.”
For Stephanie, the love of baking is second only to the love of business, staff development and helping others. It’s deeply gratifying for Stephanie to work closely with her store manager and staff to find creative ways to help others and grow the business. Each month, the store sponsors some type of themed charity event designed to collect donations for worthy recipients.
Stephanie’s Gigi’s Cupcakes franchise has paired cupcakes with several different causes, including warm clothing and non-perishable food drives for the Madison community. The latest was brunch and happy hour events. The happy hour featured cupcakes with drink themes, as the bakery collected donations for Smile Train, a charity that gives surgeries to needy children with cleft palate issues in Third World countries.
“The greatest reward of this business is that I get to sponsor really cool events that help people and make Gigi’s a relevant part of the community,” says Stephanie. “We approach our work by thinking, ‘What can we do to make us part of Madison?’ I feel like whatever we give, we get back tenfold. Seeing the joy on my team members’ faces makes it all worth it.”
Stephanie is also passionate about investing in her team. As owner, she feels a responsibility to help them develop professionally and to guide them to reach their career goals. “That’s fun for me,” she says. “I love working with them, helping them and growing the business, while making coming to work something they love to do.”
What does it take to be a successful a Gigi’s Cupcakes franchise owner?
Success for Stephanie is about far more than a bottom line on a ledger, although she reports her first 18 months in business as financially successful. Stephanie points to the progress she’s made making a difference in the lives of people around her, including her team, community members and strangers near and far who need her help. Pursuing creative ways to use her business to help others is paramount to doing well success, according to Stephanie.
“To be successful as a Gigi’s Cupcakes franchisee, you need to be entrepreneurial, driven and passionate,” she says. “And not just passionate about our product, but passionate about coming up with ideas about how to sell more, how to offer better customer service, how to retain customers and provide a customized experience. You definitely need creativity and the right team around you to be successful.”
Stephanie highly recommends the franchise model — specifically, with Gigi’s Cupcakes — to entrepreneurs. Owning a franchise is the best of both worlds, she says.
“Being a Gigi’s franchisee is really rewarding,” says Stephanie. “The best part is you’re able to run your own business, but it’s within the confines of a support group that can help you in a lot of ways. I knew nothing about food or labor costs when I started, but now, I feel like I understand it.
“I also think there’s enough flexibility that allows you to make your business a success in the way you want it to be a success — meaning setting your own prices and specials and deciding what events you want to do. They are always open to new ideas. It’s a partnership that I have with them that I really treasure.” With no plans to slow down, Stephanie’s future with Gigi’s Cupcakes is bright.
She’s planning to expand her business with a second location that would be a designated space for her wedding cake decorator to work, selling the customized wedding experience to couples. It would also serve as a place for gatherings: birthday parties, cake decorating classes or vendor events.
Now is the time to join Gigi’s Cupcakes franchise
Gigi’s Cupcake franchise is the ideal opportunity for entrepreneurs who are passionate about pursuing a business endeavor that’s personally and professionally rewarding. If you’re like Stephanie Easterling — you love baking, you’re seeking a creative outlet, you love people and you want to help your community — then Gigi’s Cupcakes franchise ownership may be perfect for you.