Kristina Lavallee, also known as “The Cake Girl,” went viral on social media for designing Tom Brady’s 45th birthday cake, in the shape of a goat.
Her business, which started off as a side hustle, in 2008, with Kristina and her husband, Kirby, selling cakes at markets and festivals has turned into a permanent storefront in Tampa with plans to evolve “The Cake Girl” into a national brand.
Like most great businesswomen, Lavallee caught the entrepreneurial itch early, when she was growing up in the kitchen alongside her mother, Margarita Perez, who is a chef. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, she developed a solid foundation for what it took to make amazing food, while creating a memorable experience. Although her mom focused on savory items, Lavallee always had the intuition that she wanted to focus on the sweet side of the meal, desserts.
She knew she had to turn her baking talent into a business when the cakes she was making for family and friends quickly became the talk of the town and orders were flying in. Currently, her Tampa storefront, with 10 employees, gets between 25-35 gourmet cake orders a week, operating as a seven-figure bakery.
In a few years, The Cake Gril has continued to grow, at over 100% year over year, due to Lavallee’s business philosophy of sticking to core values and never cutting corners. She has focused on delivering the very best products, and service, while continuing to invest in her brand through technology and equipment to develop efficiency that allows her business to thrive in, virtually, any market.
She attributes the rapid success of her business to her “secret sauce” of not cutting corners and making each product with love. All The Cake Girl items are made in house, from scratch, focusing on quality and taste. Each product not only has to look exceptional but has to be delicious when you bite into it.
Lavallee has also mastered how to use marketing tactics to showcase her gourmet products on social media and her large online following has allowed her to get attention for her products from people that are outside of the Florida market.
Her entrepreneurial journey has not been without its share of challenges that she had to face, and overcome, to build her brand. When she first started her business, she struggled to get the necessary funding that she needed to launch The Cake Girl. Being a self-funded business, with no investors, she had to be resourceful in order to get The Cake Girl off the ground. She was determined not to take “no” for an answer and leveraged her strong community partnerships, and network, to find a program that focused on Hispanic women entrepreneurs, to secure funding.
When asked what advice she would give to young women that have entrepreneurial dreams, Lavalee said: “If you have a passion to get into business go for it, you only live once. With that said, I always encourage fellow entrepreneurs to have a good business plan, ample amount of funding and a strong work ethic. Especially in the food service business, it is a lot of long hours and hard work, you have to be ready to put in the time to reap the benefits later. With the right mindset and being honest with yourself on the growth and projections of your business, you can be successful at whatever you put your mind to. “
As for the future, Lavallee is leveraging her viral social media success, and popularity, to actively work on making The Cake Girl a national brand.
She said, “As we continue to work hard, we also continue to look for amazing and talented people, that share the same vision, that can join forces as we grow. We are confident that in the next couple of years, The Cake Girl will have multiple locations regionally and around the United States.”
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