Can cupcakes bring the world together? According to Jody Hall, founder of Cupcake Royale in Seattle, the answer is decidedly yes.
Create a place of belonging
Jody got her first taste of growing a business at one of the world’s most celebrated companies: Starbucks. “I started there when there were 30 stores,” Jody says. “I was one of the first people hired in the marketing department.”
Jody honed her skills as a marketer at Starbucks before eventually taking a role at a different company. As years went by, she got married and had children. But something wasn’t right. In spite of having all the outward signs of success, Jodi felt disconnected from herself.
“I think once I figured out I was gay, I felt like I could live according to my own script,” she says. But coming out wasn’t easy. “I think probably the scariest thing I ever did was to come out and to tell my friends and family.”
Jody’s friends and family were supportive. The experience renewed her spirit, and empowered Jody to nurture her entrepreneurial dreams. In deciding what kind of business to start, Jody reflected on her tenure at Starbucks where she learned about the importance of creating a business where people could come in, hang out, be themselves and feel part of a community.
“I think that as humans on this planet we really do crave coming together,” Jody says. But she wanted to serve something beyond coffee that would bring something fresh to the Seattle scene.
She decided on cupcakes.
Tap your network
Jody was fortunate to have a strong network of people with unique skills who could advise her during the early stages of launching her Cupcake Royale. “I’m a collaborator,” she says. “I talked to a lot of my pals from Starbucks who were architects, lease negotiators, and finance people. I actually talked to people who I would be competing with, as well.”
With a little help from her friends, Cupcake Royale launched in 2003. As the first cupcake café in the Seattle area, the business grew at a steady pace, opening a store a year for the first few years. Today, the business is thriving, giving locals a place to come in, be themselves, and enjoy delicious cupcakes.
Give back to the community
What’s helped make Cupcake Royale so successful isn’t just the great atmosphere and tasty cupcakes. The company has made national news with its commitment to helping communities.
“From day one, it’s always been important for us to make a difference and give back,” Jody says. As a result, Cupcake Royale donates about 50,000 cupcakes a year to nonprofits and community organizations. It’s all part of Jody’s vision for creating a business that truly values the community and celebrates diversity.
“If you can find that thing that’s really inside you, driving you, that’s where you’ll find great success in starting a business.”