Kylie Russell, Professional Baker, Kylies Kakes and More
I met Kylie at the Watertown Farmers Market last summer and have followed her journey as a professional baker ever since. When I met her I couldn’t help but praise her strength and courage to start a business so young. She recently graduated high school and is pursuing higher education to receive a business degree.
It is rare that people Kylie’s age know what they want to be when they grow up. She has had a passion for baking since she was little and just hit the ground running when she was old enough to take it on by herself. With the support of her family, she has grown her business tremendously. If you follow her on social media, you’ll find that she’s always busy during wedding season. Couples trust her to create exquisite desserts and wedding cakes for their big day. And so they should. Her work is beautiful!
Not only does she bake for weddings, she hosts cake decorating classes. Additionally, she has recently expanded her products and is now making fresh homemade bagels!
In 2018 Kylie competed at Skills USA in her first cake decorating competition. Out of 27 contestants, she took 13th place. That's incredible for her FIRST year competing. In 2019 she competed again at Skills USA, and took 2nd place in New York State out of the 20 contestants. That's incredible! It just goes to show how much you can progress and improve in a years time with hard work and dedication to improving your craft.
She is definitely a role model for those her age seeking to open their own business. Kylie is relentless and always striving to provide the best baked goods and customer service to her clients. Heck, she hand delivered bagels to my front step! She is truly remarkable and will reach major milestones in life with the drive and passion she has for this trade.
Enjoy her story below.
Tell us about yourself - Where are you from and what do you wish to be when you grow up?
I am 18 years old, born April 23rd in Binghamton, New York. I lived there until my parents divorced when I was 1 year old. We moved to Cortland, New York after the divorce. This is where the majority of my family lived. We moved around a lot throughout my childhood. I finally settled into school in Watertown, New York when I turned 9. This is where my baking journey began.
After I graduate college, my dream is to become a professional pastry chef, have my very own baking show, and/or continue to run my own business.
What brought you to where you are today?
Definitely the struggles I went through as a child. It was difficult to create lasting friendships and determine what I liked and wanted to do when we were moving so often. I remember being so excited to finally turn 16 so I could stop babysitting and earn a real paycheck from a “real” job. Being able to save money really helped me build my business and brought it to where it is today.
My parents have helped me so much throughout my journey baking. My Dad always pushes me to do better and be better at everything I do. My Mom is always there to comfort me when something doesn't go as planned or when my emotions get the best of me. My Dad taught me how to 'food cost' and profit things out and my Mom always taught me how to save money and budget. They both have helped in so many different ways. I am forever grateful.
What do you do professionally?
I bake cakes and cupcakes out of my house. Every Wednesday (throughout the summer) I set up a booth at The Watertown Farmers Market and Crafts. Everything is baked the day prior. This consists of about 200 cupcakes and 50 bagels. I take orders for weddings, birthdays, and other special occasions the rest of the week.
What year did you start your business and how long did it take to acquire a consistent client base?
I officially started my business in 2012. It took me about 4 years to acquire a consistent client base.
How long did it take to become a profitable company?
I took me about 4 ½ to 5 years to become completely profitable. At that point, I was working full time in my own business and didn't have to work additional jobs throughout the summer.
What does a day in the bakery look like?
You'll see a ton of baked cupcakes, cake batter, and buttercream buckets. And occasionally you'll see me dancing and jamming out to music.
What do you do to stay involved in the community?
I participate in local farmers markets as well as pop up shops at other events such as The Children's Miracle Network, Brew at the Zoo, and more. I also love staying connected with my customers, particularly via social media.
Where do you see your business in 5 years?
I see my business starting to really take off once I graduate from Johnson and Wales University. If opening up a storefront is the path I end up taking.
What advice would you give to people your age looking to start their own business?
Never give up and realize that you only learn from your mistakes. The business life didn't choose you, you chose it.
If a child walked up to you and asked for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give them your best tip, what would it be?
Don't listen to what others have to say about you, listen to what you think is right and you will never be unhappy in your life.
What do you enjoy most about being a baker?
Seeing my customers face after they receive their baked goods or when I get a message about how much they loved my product(s). This can be a difficult business to be in, but in the end it is all worth it.