Who doesn’t love a cupcake? Just about no one—and Rachel Blanks, the founder of Tallahassee, Florida—based Sunny Days Bakery, can spot a wide-open market when she sees one. “Our ideal customer,” she says, only half joking, “is a paying customer.”
There are likely plenty of those in Tallahassee; the area’s high concentration of students (Florida A&M and Florida State University both call the Sunshine State’s capital city home) means a double-dip business opportunity when it comes to gourmet baked goods like the ones Blanks offers. Her customer base is made up not only of those students, but also their parents, who want to deliver a little home-baked love to their often far-flung kids. (Blanks also caters to those who are extremely meticulous about what they eat; Sunny Days offers a full line of vegan baked goods as well.)
Blanks, 26, first got interested in running a bakery during her sophomore year at FAMU, majoring in business administration, “when friends and church members would ask me to bake cobblers, pies, cakes and cookies for them,” she says. “During my business training, I learned something that changed my way of thinking: ‘When you do what you love, you never work a day in your life.’ I realized I wanted to do it professionally.”
She’s now doing exactly that, having completed the funding-and-mentoring program of 100 Urban Entrepreneurs, the nonprofit foundation that offers $10,000 startup grants and eight weeks of guidance to entrepreneurs across the country. She’s gaining additional visibility as well through regular appearances sharing recipes and other tips as “The Domestic Diva” on WCTV, Tallahassee’s CBS affiliate.
Perhaps the biggest boost to Blanks’s business, though, is her husband, Michael, who recently got involved with Sunny Days’ daily operations. He “handles the deliveries and Web site orders, and also works with frosting the cakes,” Blanks says, adding with a laugh that “we complete each other — I always have the huge ideas, and he has the ‘let’s keep this in perspective’ attitude.” Sounds like a sweet partnership — and a promising business model to expand within Tallahassee and beyond.
For more on Rachel Blanks and Sunny Days Bakery, visit 100UrbanEntrepreneurs.org.