24 Apr 2024
Camelia’s Cupcake Blog: Starting a business in Stockholm
Starting a business Work & Money

Camelia’s Cupcake Blog: Starting a business in Stockholm

Business advice for newcomers in Sweden with mouth-watering cupcake talk sprinkled in….

 

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.

 

 

Meet Camelia

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.

 

Camelia’s Baking Tip #1

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.

www.cameliascupcakes.se

Follow us on Facebook for more details about our store and cupcake flavors.

 

Your Living City loves to learn about our readers experiences and ideas. If you want to share your story of relocating to Sweden send us a mail with a writing sample and we will get back to you shortly.

13 Comments

  • Irma 16 Jan 2012

    Hello Camelia! I work on Nybrogatan, just a 10 second walk from your shop and I was so excited when my boss came in one day in the fall telling me she discovered a new cupcake place right near us.

    Since then I’ve come in several times and have really enjoyed your cupcakes. Your Christmas ones were fantastic! The gingerbread one was my favorite. As an American living here 9 years, it’s so nice to see people are finally starting to bring real cupcakes to Sweden and show the Swedish people what they are!

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your story and I wish you great success. I will be sure to help as much as I can with the occassional cupcake. It’s a tough sacrifice to make, but I think i can handle it 😉

    • Camelia 16 Jan 2012

      Thanks for your kind words Irma! Hope to see you in the cafe soon!

  • Claire Caudwell 16 Jan 2012

    What a lovely and inspiring story. I am currently in the process of setting up my own art business and Cecilias story has really inspired me that it can be done.

  • Jessica 16 Jan 2012

    Really cool story. I’m looking forward to reading more. I have wanted to start a business in Sweden, and this is some cool inspiration. Thanks Camelia!

  • Em harth 17 Jan 2012

    Is it hard to find premises to rent for business purposes in Stockholm? Im keen to move my home business out into the city and Im not having much luck! Any tips for where to start looking? Cheers em,

    • Camelia 17 Jan 2012

      Hi Em,

      You’re right, it’s very difficult to find places to rent, and we actually ended up buying a location in order to rent it. Try searching on Blocket. I’ll have more information on this process in my next blog post.

      Good luck!

      Camelia

  • Erika Hastings 20 Jan 2012

    Hi Camelia, I don’t know how I bumped into this page, but it is really neat to see what you’ve been up to. Congratulations!

    Erika

  • Su Wright 24 Feb 2012

    I was so pleased to find your blog. I moved here last summer and am now trying to learn swedish so that I can open my own business. I make bespoke celebration cakes and hope to convert Stockholm to this style of cake! I’ll be following your blog with great interest, especially when you talk about all the steps you’ve had to take to set up your cupcake business. Hope it’s all going really well!

  • Linda N'Guyen 28 Jun 2012

    Hey Camelia,

    I like this article. I have to live in Sweden also. And i was thinking to open a asian caterer online.

    How to do it ?

    Do i need any permit, license??

    Regard

    Linda

  • […] I believe that putting new ideas in to your business each week is a great way to maintain your interest in your business. Using all this above, try and get something new/improved out of your mind each week – it can be a new setting for the tables, or a new decoration or even a new business signature. Such a move will not only keep your interest in the business but, also keep your customers eager for what they get to see next! I am doing this myself and have found that, hard as it might be, it’s definitely worth it. Take this example: recently, I’ve decided sharing with my Facebook friends, some interesting quotes about desserts. Check out  Sher’s KitchenFB to see how many comments and interactions have been built upon this idea. In order to keep up with all these activities you need to be in top shape. Who would not agree to the fact that a sound mind and body is the first priority in order to keep you going; especially if you are managing a business? So, how to take care of yourself in order to keep you going? Well, I myself being into the baking business for a while now, have a 16 hour/day schedule which takes a lot out of me! Here I would suggest you to take a good care of your body. I would take a diet which is extremely rich in nutrition like fresh fruits and veggies. I would also go for the multivitamins to further boost up the nutrition intake into my body. A protein rich diet is a must for a body that demands a lot of energy to work. This was for physical health. A positive spirit is as important as physical ones for even if you have a sound body but low spirits, you are gone right there! Try to get love and emotional support from your loved ones and family. Believe me this would be the key to step up again in case you fall down. Spend some quality time with your family and establish strong bonds with the people who drive your success! Everybody knows that meditation is the key to almost all the spiritual problems. Include meditation along with some yoga in your daily routine.  30 minutes a day is not that much and it will help your mental state immensely! Last but not the least you need a constant source of inspiration to stay focused; as there would be moments when you would feel let down! So, it is up to you to make sure that it passes fast and leave you even stronger. In order to drive your strength during tough times look at the inspirational stories. I have some of them for you right here! Story1  Story2 Story3 […]

  • bahareh 8 Apr 2014

    Congrats for your job. Do you have any information about cupcakes shop in Uppsala? I have to move there from Iran and need some info. Thanks a lot for your kindness

  • Laura 10 Jul 2018

    Really like your story! Your website seems to sell sneakers now. What happened?

    • Camelia Safai 22 Mar 2022

      Hello, I shut down the cupcake business in 2016 to focus on other projects, it seems like the domain name has been bought by someone else.

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