Meg Skill’s baking habit was a hobby, until it wasn’t just a hobby anymore. She originally started baking as a way to remain creatively engaged after taking a job as a receptionist after graduating from art school. She would spend hours perusing blogs about baking and cake decoration and then experiment on friends over the weekends. Eventually, she realized that her passion for baking was more than just a side project and decided to launch her own business, Nutmeg Cake Design.
“The thought of starting and running my own business terrified me,” Meg says. “I really never envisioned myself as a boss lady! But this is how it happened and I have no regrets.”
When she first decided to take a leap of faith and open her own bake shop in January 2015, she rented out space from The Bakeshop on Twentieth in Rittenhouse, working during their off-hours on nights and weekends. After her first year in business, she was able to finally move into her own space and has continued to grow her baking business.
Role Models: What steps did you take to plan for the launch of your own business?
Meg Skill: Well, I actually launched rather impulsively! I had no business plan, no funding, I was in debt and living paycheck to paycheck. I know that if I had waited for everything to fall perfectly into place to launch, I'd still be waiting. My intuition told me that this was the right direction to head in, and since I had nothing to lose, I jumped in with both feet when commercial kitchen space was suddenly available to me. I would certainly recommend a bit more preparation prior to launching, but also keep your eyes open for those big opportunities when they present themselves.
RM: What types of challenges did you face at the beginning, and how did you overcome them?
MS: I felt very isolated for the first few months. I didn’t know any other women in business, or even have friends who went to business school that I could turn to for help. But as it turned out, I was able to really depend on and help support the owners of The Bakeshop. Since we were both new businesses, we were learning quickly on our feet, sharing experiences and advice that helped us both thrive.
Eventually, I also tapped into a bigger network of professional women when I started going to networking events for people in the wedding industry. Through those experiences I started to feel both supported and validated. I also joined the Wellstruck Lady Boss community, which was a huge game changer for me. It’s provided me with both great networking opportunities and support. I’ve also created wonderful friendships through Wellstruck.
RM: What advice would you provide to other women who are thinking about starting their own business?
MS: Find your community and develop those relationships in an organic and authentic manner. Those relationships can end up being more valuable to you than marketing and advertising. I've really found that my favorite part of being a business owner is knowing that I'm not alone in this--that there is this vast web of local, smart women that are in the trenches right there with me. We're all striving for growth and we're there to cheer each other on and collaborate.
RM: Speaking of marketing and advertising, how did you build the business so quickly?
MS: I actually built the business mostly on Instagram and word of mouth. To some extent, that’s really still how I approach developing new business! I built a website myself using Squarespace and then just used my expanding network to spread the word.
RM: It sounds like you wear a lot of hats! How do you manage everything?
MS: For a long time my work-life balance really suffered, and that is still one of my greatest challenges. I launched the business by myself, so I had no one to share responsibilities with--I’m talking about all the additional tasks aside from the actual baking. So, trying to manage the business and then also trying to take care of myself--like sleep, exercising, and eating well--ended up falling by the wayside. I am still trying to figure that one out, but I finally was able to hire my first employee to help me in 2017, which has been a game changer.
RM: How has hiring someone to help you positively affected you or the business?
MS: It’s definitely improved my work-life balance. It also takes some of the stress of running a business off my plate. I can focus on bringing in more business and also reconnect to my creativity. It’s been nice to have additional creative input as well. My current employee, Kelly, has been such a great addition to the team--she works quickly, efficiently and contributes ideas for workflow, recipes and designs.