~Katie's note: For our 24th birthday party in July, Julie made the most unique cake we've ever seen. A replica of our coffee packaging! The cake was gorgeous and delicious and a fun element of our celebration. Never one to miss an opportunity for details, Julie even included our coffee in the batter. We love this interview with Julie for our Culinary Women and Coffee series. Almost as much as we loved her cake ;)
1. Tell us about yourself / your business & career / your involvement in the food and beverage industry.
My business is For Heaven Bakes—a specialty cake company where I focus on the really fun 3D and 2D carved and decorated cakes. Almost my entire 10+ year professional career has been in marketing, but I've been involved with baking in a part-time capacity for the past several years. When I lived in DC, I worked at a bakery in the early mornings before my full-time job during the day, and then when I moved to Charleston I started my speciality cake business on the side.
2. What do you love most about what you do?
I think because the majority of my working life has been spent behind a computer, and so much of everyday life these days is done via a screen, that I love the physicality of actually creating something with my hands. That and the fact that I get to spend my days surrounded by cake—who wouldn't love that!
3. How does coffee play a part in your day? Can you tell us about your coffee ritual?
My husband and I start every single day with coffee on our porch. It's our morning ritual that starts the day out on a relaxing note, where we can talk about things we each want to focus on for the day. Also, on most weekends we go downtown really early and get biscuits and coffee (which of course, is King Bean!) from Callie's at the market, and just walk around down in the battery.
4. What types of coffee do you like to drink?
I almost always tend to go for a medium roast coffee.
5. Do you take your coffee with cream, sugar, both or black?
I keep it simple—I'm a strictly black coffee (or black iced coffee) person!
6. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
This goes along with what advice I would give to any young woman interested in a culinary career—when I was just finishing school and talking about down the line dreams of one day owning my own business, someone gave me the most incredible advice, which was to get a job in the industry that I one day wanted to own a business in. And I think a lot of people think they will just start their own business and figure it out along the way, but I feel that because I worked in a bakery and in catering before starting my own cake business, it helped me learn from the mistakes of others, and also helped me figure out what I wanted to focus on and specialize in. To this day, I still think that was the most helpful advice I have ever received!
7. What’s the favorite part of your work day?
Usually one day out of the week I dedicate to testing—testing new recipes, techniques, etc.—and those days I usually end up with an abundance of leftover cake, which is always a good work day. :)
8. What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to your vocation? How do you overcome that?
I think regardless of the industry, being a one-person business is a challenge in so many ways, but for me, sometimes I just really need people to bounce ideas off of. I feel so fortunate to be in the Charleston, which to me feels very unique in how the f&b community and small business community all look out for each other. I have met some incredible fellow local bakers and female entrepreneurs over the past two years and they have helped me grow my business in ways that I don't think I could have done without them.
9. What advice would you give to a young woman interested in a culinary career?
10. Finish this line for us- “all things are possible with coffee and _____”