Camelia’s Cupcake Blog: Business advice for newcomers in Sweden with mouth-watering cupcake talk sprinkled in….
- Camelia’s Cupcake Blog: Starting a Business in Stockholm # 3
- Camelia’s Cupcake Blog: Starting a Business in Stockholm # 2
- Blog: Volunteering in Sweden
- Success in Sweden: Melanie Jamison’s story
Hello everyone, hope you are all enjoying the last few weeks of winter! As we approach the spring time, we notice the changes taking place in the natural world around us. Just as the seasons change every year, change comes in life, whether we like it or not. Since change is an inevitable part of life, it is the same with any business, you must adapt to change in order to survive.
My husband and I have a big change coming into our lives this April, we are welcoming our first child into this world, affectionately called Baby Cupcake for the time being. With this life changing event, I had to evaluate my options with the business. Needless to say, getting pregnant two months after buying the café was NOT in the business plan, but it is what it is and I had to adapt the business to this change.
After I found out I was pregnant, I decided I needed more help in the café. Between the constant nausea and aching back, I could not continue to work the long hours on my feet, baking and serving customers six days a week on my own. I was very lucky that my husband’s cousin was able to move here from Norway and help out part-time at the café and I also hired a friend to work part-time. Getting all this extra help really took the pressure off me and allowed me to focus my energies on marketing and booking events for the business, as well as managing the cafe.
Where you can turn to for new business support:
During this time I also looked at more long-term solutions to the labor situation in the cafe. As I progressed in my pregnancy, I was able to spend less and less time on my feet, so I had to look at hiring more people to help. Since the business was new and on a limited budget for wages, I had to look at other alternatives. I contacted Arbetsförmedlingen and I met with one of their agents. She described a number of different programs that help businesses hire people who are either new to the country or have been out of work for more than six months. When you hire someone who is eligible for one of these programs, Arbetsförmedlingen would reimburse you up to 80% of their wages for the first 6 months of employment, on a full-time basis, or up to one year for part-time. Here is more information in English about one of the programs: http://www.arbetsformedlingen.se/download/18.324e0e4212ca1149f518000268/nystartsjobb_arbetsgivare_engelska.pdf
This support from Arbetsformedlingen is great for new businesses that need financial support to hire new staff in the beginning, since labor costs are quite high in Sweden, when you factor in the hourly wage and the taxes. The agent sent me some CV’s of eligible people to interview, and the agent would act as a support during the hiring process. I would highly recommend utilizing this program if you have a new business and need to hire additional help. Unfortunately, given my situation with the baby coming soon, I realized it was not just additional help I needed in the café, but actually someone who could run the business for me while I would be on maternity leave for at least one year.
I kept battling out different scenarios in my head, what to do with the business, what to do with the baby, could I juggle both at the same time? I really admire all the women out there who have families and run their own business, it is a lot of work and they really are “superwomen”. I realized that since the baby was my priority, I did not want him to suffer the consequences of me trying to juggle both motherhood and the business. And since it was near impossible to find someone to take over the business for a year, after much soul searching and consultation with my husband, we decided the best thing for the family and for the business would be to sell the café. It was a heart-breaking decision that took a long time for me to come to terms with, but I could not find another way around the situation. The café and the business had been my “baby” since moving to Sweden, I had put all my time, energy, and passion into it, and now I had to sell it in order to focus on my real baby.
I know this is a dilemma many women face with their careers and families, and there is no right or wrong answer. You have to choose what is right for you and your situation. Initially, I felt like people would judge me if I gave up the café to be a full-time mom, like I was giving up on my career. I kept beating myself up about it, thinking I was a failure. But then I realized that it doesn’t matter what other people think, it’s what I think that matters. And choosing to prioritize my baby over the café was not an act of failure or giving up. It was a change of circumstances in my life that I had to adapt to, and I had to make the right choice for me, not what society or other people would think is the right decision.
Once I accepted the fact that the café had to be sold, I listed it with an agent and said I would wait until I got the right price for the café. I did not want to sell at a loss. After two months of people coming to check out the location on a daily basis, the café was sold at the price I wanted. Our last day at this location is February 28, so now begins the process of packing and cleaning for the move.
Although the café has been sold, I have kept the business, Camelia’s Cupcakes. I am returning to catering from a kitchen location and focusing on weddings and events, since those were the areas that brought in the most profit. I will be able to work-part time as needed, and call in extra help for the events. It will be much more manageable to juggle catering with having a baby, instead of having to run a café!
As life continues to change with its twists and turns, surprises and challenges, so does the life of a business owner continue to change. All you can do is accept the changes and try to adapt to them the best you can. As I enter a new chapter in my life, I am excited to see how I can continue to grow Camelia’s Cupcakes as a catering business instead of a café. I already have two weddings booked for the spring and I am talking to different cafes about catering to them and hosting decorating parties in their locations, so we’ll see what other exciting new opportunities arise. So this is not the end of Camelia’s Cupcakes, just a farewell to the café. I will continue to have updates on Facebook and the website, and customized cupcakes will be available for order through our website. There will be delivery and pick-up (from Nacka Forum) options as well, so please keep Camelia’s Cupcakes in mind for your special events!
Next time I will talk about marketing strategies you can utilize for your new business!
Check your oven temperature. Most ovens have a hot or cool spot, which can lead to un-even baking. Get an oven thermometer and use it to test the temperature in all 4 corners of your oven. If you do find a hot or cool spot, remember to rotate your trays in order to ensure even baking. When baking cupcakes, I always rotate the trays front to back, and then rotate between the top and bottom shelf, and this guarantees that all my cupcakes will be baked evenly. Since most recipes call for 22-25 minutes of baking time for regular sized cupcakes, do not open the oven door for the first 15 minutes of baking. This will give the cake batter time to rise before you open the door to rotate the trays. If you disturb the baking process before the first 15 minutes are up, you risk having flatter cupcakes. Happy baking everyone!