Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Antoinette Mathis. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Alright, Antoinette thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. Alright, so you had your idea and then what happened? Can you walk us through the story of how you went from just an idea to executing on the idea?
It was a regular day of me surfing the internet back in 2009. I was a bored and I asked myself, what can I create today? I stumbled across a recipe for a “Cakeball” I thought that looks interesting. It was cake mixed with icing and dipped in chocolate, so I thought that’s it let’s try it! Well I quickly found out that it was not as easy as I thought. At that time I new nothing about melting or dipping anything in chocolate. But as time went on I got the hang of it. I continued to experiment and I had so many, I gave some to my sister to take to work to share with her co-workers. Everybody loved them, even so one of her co-workers asked can she make these for a Baby Shower and that’s how it all began! In the meantime I continued to experiment with different flavors. My next order actually came from that order and a customer wanted to know if I shipped. Of course I said yes although I did not have clue how to ship, but I was going to figure that out too! My next challenge was how to get this Cakeball on a stick? Now that was a challenge!!! I finally figured that out as well and Nina Lau’Rens Cakeballs and Cakepops was born. I named my business after my one and only niece , who inspires me because she is one of determination and perseverance! Next I had to figure out how to package and I had no ideal how to promote beyond my immediate family and friends. I would eventually drop the Cakeballs and focus on Cakepops. In 2013 I registered my business with the State of Ohio. There was not a lot of help for “small business so the Library became my best friend. So fast forward to 2015…. I am definitely a creative but I had no clue of how to run a business. I would soon get accepted in the “Bad Girls Venture” accelerator program to help me with the business side. This program exposed me to so much for me and my business. I was assigned a mentor, and I was also introduced to so many resources that I had never heard of such as the “Womens Business Center” I would next create my first website, and start to do farmers markets and craft shows to help to get my brand out. There has been many ups and downs but starting my own business has been one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made!
Antoinette, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
Nina Lau’Rens is an innovative sweet treat company that specializes in Cakepops and Chocolate inspired desserts. My name is Antoinette Mathis affectionately known as the “Chief Chocolate Officer” and I own and operate Nina Lau’Rens Cakepops which was launched officially in 2013. Our mission is to offer an “Elegant Fun” experience to our customers for their major life and business celebrations. Nina Lau’Rens is unique as we pride ourselves with not only a delicious product but great customer service that goes hand and hand.
Nina Lau’Rens has successfully operated three “Pop-up Shops ”, The Old Arcade (2014), Coventry Village (2015) and Legacy Village (2016). We currently “Pop up” in various locations through out Cleveland at least once a month!
I am a native Clevelander and a graduate of John Hay High School, I attended Cuyahoga Community College and earned an Associate degree in Culinary & Restaurant Management. I later received my Bachelor’s degree in Restaurant and Business Management from the New England Culinary Institute in 2010. I am also an alumni of the Bad Girl Ventures program, now known as Aviatra Accelerator program and I have over 13 years of hospitality industry experience.
I’ve held various positions in major Hotel chains, coffee shops and a catering company. Due to budget cut, I was laid off as a Catering Administrative Assistant in 2014 (position held for seven years) and I chose to launch Nina Lau’Rens as a full-time endeavor. This was actually a blessing in disguise! I am most proud that I’ stuck to my dream of owning my own business, through all of the ups and the downs of life. I would encourage anyone that has a dream to pursue your dreams with everything that is in you and to never ever give up! Because I never gave up I was able to provide thousands of Cakepops for the “Cleveland Cavs” One of my greatest moments!!
Have any books or other resources had a big impact on you?
My favorite Book is the Bible, the Bible contains so many principles such as building on a firm foundation! I also enjoy listening to Podcast. I am a firm believer in taking in relevant knowledge that will help you to grow your business. My favorite Podcast is Baking for Business by Chef Amanda Schonberg who is also my Baking Business Coach, Chef Amanda focuses on the “Business” side of your baking business because most of us have the creative side covered.
We’d love to hear a story of resilience from your journey.
On July 4th 2021, I lost my sight in my right eye due to a condition called “Uveitis” it causes inflammation in my eye. I was down for about 30 days. I had to rely on my faith to get me through this experience. I decided that I would “Keep it moving” as much as I could. In between weekly doctors appointments and a few set backs and put that patch over my eye and I slowly got back in the swing of things. One of my mottos is “Quitting is not an option” Eventually my eye was healed and I could take on more orders.
- Website: www.ninalaurens.com
- Instagram: Ninalaurenscakepops
- Facebook: Ninalaurenscakepops
Cover Photo India Burton of IA Creatives