Geescakes: Building a Boutique Business One Sweet Bite at A Time
By Robin R. Ashworth
“My mother always told me: when you find the job that you would do for free, then you know you’ve found what you’re supposed to be doing for the rest of your life.” That’s how Genovia Brown is certain she’s on the right path with her small, part-time cheesecake venture. Geescakes focuses solely on one product: bite-sized, boutique cheesecakes in twenty-seven regular and seasonal flavors. “I’m not a cook, and I’ve not been professionally trained,” Gee says, but her passion for her cheesecakes “comes from the heart.” She insists, “I would do it for free. I really would.”
Geescakes exemplifies a grassroots evolution of business. For Gee, as she is affectionately called, the process began in the kitchen of her Henrico County apartment, as she was preparing for a Christmas ornament exchange party in December 2016. “I decided I wanted to make eggnog cheesecakes. It was my first time ever making them, and [my guests] loved them.” Requests for more cheesecakes came from friends and family, and then friends of friends. She began to experiment with other flavors, which were also met with positive feedback, and it dawned on her that she might have a viable business product.
In March of 2017, she procured her business licenses and made her official debut at a local farmers market. Encouraging sales and a strong turnout of supportive friends convinced Gee to commit to the West End Farmers Market for the season. “And that’s really where we’ve been, working at the market.” Gee has big plans for her small company, but she is working mindfully and conservatively toward her goals. She rented a commercial kitchen in the city right at the start because “you can’t do sales online unless you work out of a professional kitchen. You also can’t do wholesale.” While current sales are direct to her customers, Gee is thinking in terms of “opening an actual location” with the future goal of distribution and even selling franchises.
While franchising is still a few years away, Genovia is working on steadily building the business. She currently sees Geescakes as “something for me and my family” that allows her to “share [her] love with the world.” She says, “I love this business and I love what I’m doing. I wish it were my full-time job.” But she’s willing to take the long view. “Start small, let the cheesecakes speak for themselves, build the clientele, and over time, it will happen. That’s what I believe.”