Alisha Arnold holds a day job working in bank compliance. Her second job is as a wife and mother to three children.
Her third job begins when the kids are in bed and Arnold gets to baking.
She is the owner of Cupcakes and Sweets LLC, a cottage baking business she started in early 2018. But Arnold, a fifth-generation Coloradan and Coronado High School graduate, would like to take her concept and expand it to a brick-and-mortar business in Southeast Colorado Springs.
Arnold has been in banking, where she started as a teller, since 2008. So what was the driving force behind her interest in a culinary career?
“I enjoy it,” she said. “I’ve always cooked. My mom will tell you stories about me making pancakes on a bench because I was too short to reach the counter.”
Culinary school, however, proved to be too expensive for Arnold, so she drifted away from her passion, only to find that spark again early last year.
“You don’t really need to have a degree to be good at what you do. You just have to kick ass at it. … We’d started a family and I got stuck in my career, ‘OK, I’m in banking now and heading up that career path.’ I got blinded going in that direction and moved away from doing what I loved.”
Arnold said it was frugality that brought her back to baking.
“I didn’t want to have to spend the money on paying a grocery store to make cakes that tasted the same every single time,” she said. “My kids liked watching cooking shows and they’d get crazy ideas and want to do stuff, so why not promote that creativity piece in them and have them help me?
“At the time I thought, ‘OK, maybe I’ll make a mom blog. I’m not doing anything else but raising three kids and bingeing on Netflix during my downtime. So instead of wasting my life away watching TV, maybe I should do something with it.’ So I put myself out there… that’s how it started. I posted recipes online … and started listening to podcasts about side hustles and how to make extra money.”
Arnold began by posting cupcakes for sale on Facebook.
“I didn’t think anything of it. I was just going to take a picture and put it on there. I’d recently found Facebook Marketplace. I didn’t know about it but saw people were selling food on there left and right, so I figured, ‘What the heck, I’ll do it.’
“I posted a picture of cupcakes and not even a day later a lady messaged me and said she needed a dozen mini cupcakes. Nothing major. I said, ‘Yeah, $20.’”
Arnold filed for an LLC in February 2018 and met someone online who was working on her portfolio to build websites, so Arnold got a free website and logo.
“So I put myself out there officially as a business and it hasn’t slowed down since,” she said.
While business is booming, there’s only so much Arnold can do from her home, she said.
The business specializes in custom cakes, cupcakes, tiramisu and other assorted desserts, but due to space restrictions, Arnold said she can only make about four cakes a week.
The greatest impact of winning the competition, she said, would start with the extra space she’d gain.
“Having limited room now means limited business. Having a space where I can keep extra products would increase my sales quite a bit.”
Arnold said the customer base already exists.
“I’m maxed out right now,” she said. “… I was on vacation last week and I had to decline 20 orders so I could go with my family. That’s crazy!”
And while Arnold lives near Union and Dublin boulevards, she said the majority of her business comes from the Southeast part of town.
“Because of this competition, I dived a little deeper and looked at some of my [customers’] household stats — those with children and those without. The area I live in is very much the opposite of those I service. The households are older and don’t have children at home.”
Arnold said moms and real estate professionals are her No. 1 clients and she sets her business apart by delivering products to her customers, along with a handwritten note.
“The real estate professionals I work with — we’re celebrating their clients,” she said. “They’re about to buy a new home — a milestone in their life. …
“And moms are busy. I know what it’s like to have kids and add picking up a cake on top of all the other celebration planning.
“I’m always able to deliver to them and that’s what they are most [grateful] for. It’s not even the interaction. It’s saving them the time.”
Arnold is also incorporating a social enterprise model into her business, where she will donate a portion of her revenue to a local nonprofit. This year is devoted to CPCD Head Start, an early childhood service organization.
“I want to be able to help the community too,” she said. “Especially because this is my home.”