We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Linda Sudowski a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Linda, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today Risking taking is a huge part of most people’s story but too often society overlooks those risks and only focuses on where you are today. Can you talk to us about a risk you’ve taken – it could be a big risk or a small one – but walk us through the backstory.
Starting a business is always risk no matter what. And man have I taken some risks! In 2015 I left my career as a social worker to open My Make Studio. We had a small space with about 20 seats for people to come in and decorate cupcakes and cakes. I had no idea what I was doing but day by day I found my stride and grew my vision. We hosted parties, classes, summer camps and cupcake battles. In 2019 my lease was up and I took a huge risk by moving My Make Studio into a larger space with foot traffic. We went from 20 seats to 50 seats and I sure was ready. Bring on the parties! Bring on the classes! 8 short weeks later COVID hit and closed my doors. I knew it was a risk moving into a larger space but it was one I was confident in. Little did I know all of my dreams would be shattered so quickly. We pivoted with intense purpose and began shipping cupcake and cake decorating kits nationwide to families who were in quarantine. Before I knew it, our kits were becoming more and more popular with an e-commerce model. Our beautiful studio never recovered the foot traffic so in February of 2022, nearly 2 years after closing our doors, we made the hard decision to close them permanently. Now 100% of our efforts are online. We have invested in getting icing branded, fondant branded, developing our very own recipe for cake mix, and designing newer packaging that will succeed in retail settings. If I went back to 2015 and was asked where I’d be in 7 years with My Make Studio, I would never have imagined what it is now. I’m grateful for my employees who believe in me and my vision and I’m grateful to my family who stands by my side as I explore new avenues for my business. I can’t tell you everything that is going to happen this year but I can tell you that My Make Studio will become a national brand!
Linda, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
I grew up watching my mom and grandma decorate wedding cakes. I was never allowed to play with the ingredients because they were expensive and there was a job to complete. So I watched and I observed and I admired. In college I studied social work while always baking cupcakes on the side. As life continued I met my husband and his two adopted children. I decided it was too difficult to do social work as a career as well as support my new pre teen boys with their needs. So, I opened My Make Studio in March of 2015. My Make Studio was a decorate yourself cupcake and cake studio where customers could come in and decorate with icing, fondant and candies. We hosted parties, summer camps, and battles. It was creative and fun. In 2020 when COVID hit we took our favorite classes and launched our cupcake and cake decorating kits to ship nationwide. We have since closed our studio doors permanently and are focusing our efforts online. We have worked so hard this year to develop new packaging, create our very own cake mix, design branded icings and fondants, and we are ready to sell in a retail world! We have exciting new things ahead of us and we can’t wait to see customers decorate with us!
Can you tell us about a time you’ve had to pivot?
Pivot has become my middle name basically (haha). My Make Studio doors had to close in March of 2020 due to COVID. We didn’t miss a beat and decided to pivot with intense purpose. We took everything we learned from our 5 years in business and designed cupcake and cake decorating kits. We’ve had many failures along the way as we’ve learned how to package items for shipping, learned new systems to ship, befriended all new vendors, and basically re invented my entire business. Pivoting was extremely scary but rewarding. In some ways it feels like I have a brand new business when in reality it’s 7 years old now. I’m excited and anxious about the direction of our new model and I can’t wait to see what our loyal customers think of our new changes.
Can you open up about how you funded your business?
My grandfather immigrated from Cuba in the 50’s. He was a doctor and a brilliant man. He set aside money for each grandchild to use in their life however they desired. I saved every penny he gave me and knew that one day there would be great purpose for it. In March of 2015 I used my grandfather’s savings for me to open My Make Studio. We named my legal company Ladaga Ventures after my grandfather, Leopaldo Ladaga. I am so blessed now because we live in the same town and I get to spend so much time with him and share my dreams. He is so proud of the creativity and hard work I have dedicated to my business. He loves looking at pictures of our cupcakes and most of all he loves seeing my daughters (his great granddaughters) decorating with me.