Over the next five years, Lila plans to increase her presence in the East Bay, open additional locations throughout California.
Lila Owens launched Cupcakin’ Bakeshop in her Berkeley, California home in 2007, and instantly became a darling among East Bay cupcake aficionados. Cupcakin’ began to grow and Lila relocated to a nearby brick-and-mortar storefront. Lila came to Pacific Community Ventures in search of support with scaling her operations efficiently to manage this growth, and to prepare the business for the future. Part of Lila’s plans include opening several locations — and she knew she would need defined processes that she could replicate at each new location.
We paired Lila with Robert Bonner, a business consultant and coach based in New Jersey who specializes in operations and process improvement. He and Lila have walked through the systems at Cupcakin’ and he’s provided advice on how to scale and streamline her operations while maximizing her budget.
Robert and Lila work incredibly well together. Robert shared that Lila has always been coachable, is inquisitive, and hasn’t been afraid to let him see the inner workings of Cupcakin’. He commented that she’s very open and transparent which has allowed them to dig into the business issues and make strides together. He recently shared with us that “Lila is a true joy to advise and support.”
Lila says that Robert has played a key role “in grounding myself and ensuring I’m analyzing things, and critically thinking about ideas and strategies before chasing pipe dreams.” Lila says she feels like she on the right path to grow and achieve her long-term goals. “Working with Robert and BusinessAdvising.org has been super instrumental in our growth and analyzing our finances,” she says, and Robert has “been absolutely amazing and fantastic.”
Over the next five years, Lila plans to increase her presence in the East Bay, open additional locations throughout California, and, hopefully, the East Coast. We can’t wait to see the accomplishments in store for Lila and Cupcakin, and couldn’t be more grateful to Robert for volunteering with us! She’s also become a client of PCV’s small business loan program. She needed capital to fuel her growth, but was turned down by a traditional bank. The team at PCV’s loan fund was more than happy to partner with her.
Spring 2020 Update
Last year, in 2019, Lila’s expanded her business to another storefront in Oakland, and added several more jobs. This was only the beginning of Owens’ expansion plans. In addition to moving her original Berkeley shop from Durant Avenue to a larger space at 2391 Telegraph Avenue last fall, she is set to take over the historic Virginia Bakery 1690 Shattuck Avenue in North Berkeley. To fund this, she qualified for a $200,000 business loan as part of PCV’s “Good Jobs, Good Business” program, and from there increased revenue by 99%, with 57% job growth. She offers her workers: a living wage; career-building opportunities; wealth-building opportunities; and a fair and engaging workplace.
Her business was on a roll, and then the pandemic hit. Lila saw a dramatic drop in walk-in orders, and requests for catering and event refunds skyrocketed. Lila knew she had to make changes, and fast. To counter the sales slump, she implemented a same-day delivery service where customers could place orders through social media.“We post the cities [in California] and flavors that we’re going to have the next day,” Lila said, “and make it more convenient as opposed to calling or sending an online order. Customers are able to send us a direct message through Instagram to place their order.” And it worked. The move created two new jobs and nearly offset losses from low walk-in sales. Lila also turned to online advertising, bringing her sales almost back to pre-pandemic levels. “Even in a pandemic, you still have a birthday. You still have an anniversary … It’s almost like you want something celebratory to remind you of life’s normalcies.”