Take it From Me: CamiCakes Cupcakes

Atlanta businesswoman shares the sweet and unsweetened sides of entrepreneurship

Andra Hall gives real talk about being an entrepreneur

When CamiCakes Cupcakes (404-748-4288) opened its doors in 2006 in Orange Park, Florida, owner Andra Hall’s longtime passion became her entrepreneurial pursuit. Today, with three stores in operation (the Jacksonville, Florida location opened in 2008 and the Atlanta store opened in 2009), the business is delivering sweet success. In 2009, CamiCakes, named for Hall’s daughter, Camille, grossed nearly $1.1 million in revenues and expects to generate $2 million this year. Of course, Hall’s path to business ownership wasn’t all sweet, and the 38-year-old admits she’s still learning. Read more about her efforts to see how they can influence and inspire yours.

On doing her homework

From her research, Hall discovered that cupcake shops that did well in New York and Los Angeles received a lot of foot traffic. In Orange Park and Jacksonville, “the only place that had high foot traffic like that was in a mall,” she says. So that’s where she opened her flagship store in Orange Park. In Atlanta, she used a different strategy; she chose to open the store on the city’s most famous street. “Anyone in Atlanta knows Peachtree,” she says. “On Peachtree, people can find you.”

On standing out from the competition
One thing immediately set CamiCakes apart from other local bakeries. Hall sold only cupcakes, an idea that had not yet gained popularity with bakeries across the country. “At that time, cupcake shops were mainly in New York and California,” says Hall. She then capitalized on that distinction by sending out a blizzard of press releases announcing that the cupcake craze had landed in Florida. She believes the publicity fueled the first store’s success, leading to the capital and customers to open more locations.

On taking the recession in stride
While some small businesses were grappling with the recession, Hall believes the economic collapse helped her. “Before, people would have splurged on a $60 cake for a special occasion. Instead, they can stop by here and pick up a treat for $2.50,” she says. With 18 cupcake flavors—the most popular being red velvet, sweet potato, and carrot cake—CamiCakes’ rapid growth became one of Hall’s greatest challenges. She realized she needed to delegate and loosen the reins.

On the perks (and pains) of being her own boss
While being her own boss affords Hall the flexibility she craved, the baking aficionado admits it’s a mistake to think business ownership will give you more time for yourself. “There are going to be some days when you have to pull a double,” Hall says. “I may have had to work a 17- or 18-hour day while my child was sick.”

Look for more on Andra Hall and CamiCakes in the August 2010 issue of Black Enterprise.

ACROSS THE WEB
  • terral

    i would like to congrat’s camicakes on a job well done. I’ve started a business of my on and i need help in finding money for employee and keeping inventory in my stores.. Can any one point me in the right directions

    • http://www.suiteminute.com Peggy Duncan

      See if you have a local SCORE.org office near you. They provide free counseling and are experts on when it’s time to find money and how.

  • Melissa

    Yay!!!!! We are extremely proud of you here in Jacksonville. Keep up the good work and proving to all those that do NOT believe that “DREAMS REALLY DO COME TRUE”.

  • Z

    I drive from Orlando if I have a special occasion, that’s how much I love Camicakes!! Truly the best cupcakes:)

  • Eric

    Hello Andra, I wish you much success in the future. My wife and I visited your shop in Atlanta on a whim. We loved you cupcakes. My wife love your chocolate cupcakes, I prefer the red velvets. Your staff was friendly and helpful.

  • Ruth Bell

    You go girl! May you have all the sweet success in the world, I’m a baker in the city of Detroit and I know what you have to go through, I am so proud of you.

  • http://aladinstreasurechest.com ethnie

    Congratulations! Continued great success to you from Barbados.

  • http://www.facebook.com/djkaleem DJ Kaleem

    I met Andra and her husband in Jacksonville in 2008. I just so happened on the mall while on tour with EA Sports. I’m glad I did! Their cupcakes were good enough to order them for my mother’s bday in NJ!

    They’re very earnest hard workers who deserve all their success.

  • Cindy

    My husband and I happened to stop by Camicakes on Peachtree St. in Atlanta recently and we found pure Heaven!! I have been back several times since and plan to go back this weekend. I have picked some up for friends and for the office. Everyone absolutely loved them. My husband loves carrot cake and red velvet. He says they are the best cupcakes he has ever had and as good as any cake of the same flavor. I am a chocoholic (and would love a dark chocolate fudgy addition). I would encourage anyone reading this to stop by and try them. You will love them!
    I want to add that the staff was very courteous and helpful. It is just great.

    This is from a person who never posts comments
    , but I had to in this case. I have been telling everyone about these little delights. Congratulations on a very successful business and all the best in the future!

  • Anne

    A co-worker told me about CamiCakes on Peachtree in Atlanta. I stopped by the other day and was absolutely delighted. The cupcakes were fresh, moist and delicious. I have had cupcakes from many bakeries and hands down – these were the best cupcakes I have ever had. They were even better than Sprinkles! Congratulations to Ms. Hall!!! May God bless your business with increasing success.

  • Charlotte

    While visiting my girlfriend in Georgia she suggested we stop by CamiCakes…she had heard about the shop…and I was a bit reluctant since Ive had such disappointing results with cupcakes, from dry to gritty cakes…so i ordered 2 as I headed for the airport…one for me and one to take home to my husband…well I was absolutely shocked when I ate the Chocolate Peanut Butter…it was incredible…the cake was the moist I had ever eaten in a cupcake…I bought the Sweet Potato for my husband and it “almost” didnt make it to San Antonio..but as soon as I gave it to him…I told him he had to share…OMGoodness…what a delicious cupcake..and I have eaten from “Sprinkles” to “Southern Sisters” and none can compare to the freshness, moistness and density of the cupcakes. CamiCakes will now become my last stop before heading to Atl airport..and I will forevr return to Texas with dozens…May God’s blessings be upon your continued success…

  • Dianne Freeman

    Great Job! I am in the process of trying to start my cupcakes business, you are an inspiration. Can you give me any tips although I know it is going to be hard work but I am ready for that.