We are so excited to introduce our newest Stockholm blogger! Camelia Safai moved from Canada to Sweden for love and just a few short years later she now owns and operates her own business, Camelia’s Cupcakes. In her first blog she shares her personal experiences moving to Sweden as well as helpful tips on how to start up your own business here in Stockholm.
If you had told me a few years ago that in 2011 I would live in Stockholm and own a cupcake store, I would never have believed you. Never in a million years.
Being born and raised in Canada, and living there my whole life, I had never thought about moving to another country. I was happy and comfortable, working in human resources, being a part of the masses in the corporate world, putting my university degrees to good use. Beyond H&M and IKEA, I never gave a second thought to Sweden, and cupcakes were those cute little cakes I made for friends when I felt like channeling my inner Martha Stewart.
Then I got the itch…..the travel itch. I felt like there was a whole world out there that I wanted to discover before “settling down”. I also felt like there was something more I was meant to do with my life, like I was not fulfilling my potential. So I quit my job, rented out my apartment, and moved to Israel to do volunteer work for the Bahai Faith. This was a temporary move, I knew I would always return to Canada and the corporate world. But it was during my time there that I met my husband, who lived in Sweden, and really wanted me to move to Stockholm after getting married. After a few visits, I thought, why not, let’s give it a try!
The move to Stockholm
So after we got married, I came for a visit while waiting for my residence permit to move here. I started applying for jobs in human resources, but I quickly realized that learning Swedish would be a necessity to widen my options. While studying at home using Rosetta Stone, I started to think more creatively. What else could I do with my time? So I started baking…..cupcakes! I had always loved to bake, but did it as a hobby and never considered it as a career. I frequently baked cupcakes for friends, and they always said I could do this for a living, that I had a natural talent for it. I used to laugh off their compliments and think no more of it. But now the idea dawned on me, what if I could do this for a living? Combining my passion for baking with earning money, what a novel idea! I began to do some research, and that time, there were no cupcake stores in Stockholm. Yet, I found that Swedes love muffins and all things American, so cupcakes would be a natural next step for them. With full support from my husband, I began baking and testing recipes daily for the rest of the summer. Everyone we knew gained a few pounds during that time period, I was just baking, tasting, and collecting feedback on my recipes from people.
When I had to return to Canada to wait for my residence permit, I enrolled in every baking, cake decorating, food safety class I could find in the area. I was going to become the best cupcake baker I could possibly be. I bought as many supplies as I could fit in my suitcases to bring back with me, and when my husband came to visit, we went on a cupcake eating tour around Vancouver and Seattle, gathering ideas and getting inspired.
Starting up the business
I returned to Stockholm in November 2010 and shortly after, with the help of my IT wiz husband, launched my business website www.cameliascupcakes.se and started doing online catering. After a few months, we started looking for a café location in town, and bought a store in Östermalm in May 2011, where we are currently located and operating out of. More details of this process to come, I promise!
Something everyone asks me when they meet me and hear my story is, how did I come up with this idea and where did I find the courage and resources to make it happen? Well, boredom is a great catalyst for change. I was restless just studying and looking for work, I needed to do something. So be creative, think outside the box. If your job search is proving fruitless, think about creating your own job. Look around you and see what is missing from the marketplace. Especially for those of us who come from other countries, we have lots of great products and services at home that maybe don’t yet exist here. Why can’t you be the one to bring it here?
Here are the steps I went through when deciding to go into the cupcake business:
1) Does this product exist here?
2) If not, is there a demand for it?
3) If yes, what can I do differently or better when I offer it?
4) What changes need to be made to apply it to the Swedish marketplace?
5) Do I have the skills and abilities to offer this product or service? What skills do I need to develop before starting?
6) Can I do this alone, or do I have a network of people to help me?
I consulted with many people on these topics before making the decision to go ahead, and ensured that not only would I be prepared to the max to go down this path, but that I also had a good support network of people with skills that I was lacking to help me, such as IT development, Swedish language skills, and accounting. Networking will be a lifesaver when trying to start your own business, so don’t be afraid to talk to people and ask for help, people are more willing to help than you would think!
So if you are considering starting your own business, don’t let fear hold you back. Look around you and get creative, there’s a lot of potential out there for great business ideas. Once you have an idea, then start talking to people who have their own businesses and learn from their experiences. Networking will help you get far in this process.
In the coming months, I will write posts with more details about my process, such as how to register a business, how to find a location, finding suppliers, marketing, and hiring employees. But feel free to drop by the café to have a chat, and eat some cupcakes and coffee to help keep the winter blues away! This month’s specials are Tropical Mango Coconut and Peanut Butter Madness.
Always use room temperature ingredients when baking cupcakes. This applies to refrigerated items such as butter, eggs, and milk. You can let them sit out for an hour before you start mixing, or use the microwave to heat them up slightly. But your batter will mix much more smoothly when your ingredients are at room temperature, and you will be able to incorporate more air into your cake, which will result in a perfectly fluffy and moist cupcake!
Craving a cupcake now? Pop in for a fika…
Camelia’s Cupcakes is located at Nybrogatan 40 in Östermalm, near Östermalmtorg T-bana.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday 11-18 and weekends 12-17.
Follow us on Facebook for more details about our store and cupcake flavors.