September 25, 2023 by Shannon McIntosh, Manager

The sweet taste of success

Welcome to the new edition of The Bright Side with Shannon McIntosh. This month, I interviewed two Baker Tilly Catalyst clients, sisters Jodi Willoughby and Carolyne McIntyre‑Jackson, who turned their dream of a bakery into the successful business Crave Cookies and Cupcakes. Let’s dive into how it all started, the hurdles they’ve overcome and more.

The right ingredients

With a tradition of baking in their family, Jodi and Carolyne always dreamed of opening their own bakery one day. After discovering farmers markets didn’t want their product, they didn’t get discouraged. Instead, their determination grew stronger and they decided to open their own store. Carolyne and her husband were out for a bike ride in Kensington one day when she discovered an ideal location. The sisters opened their first bakery in 2004. Fueled by passion, they began each morning before sunrise, baking as many cupcakes as they could. In the afternoon, they would work in the front of the shop helping customers. Since opening their first location 19 years ago, they have expanded to add five additional stores.

Resilience through challenges

It took time to build trust with their suppliers and develop relationships. They didn’t have an Instagram page at first, so they relied on word of mouth to help them grow. They both emphasize the importance of cultivating strong relationships to build a successful business.

Jodi and Carolyne are moms and wives in addition to being business owners, which adds another layer of complexity ⁠–⁠ balancing business and family. Luckily, they have wonderful partners who can help them optimize their time and energy to ensure both are thriving.

They also struggled with expanding to different cities and finding people who wanted to work in the industry, had experience and loved what they were doing. They were able to create a strong business environment and now have four employees who have worked with them for 10 years, and 20 employees who have worked for them for more than five years. Not only do they have the secret ingredients to the best baked goods around, they’ve also found the secret to creating an incredible workplace culture. They lead from a place of openness and compassion, create a collaborative environment and give staff the benefit of the doubt, allowing them to learn from their mistakes.

Having a good team behind you and allowing everybody to put forth ideas will help you move in the right direction. They recently initiated a weekly event called “Cookies with co‑founders,” during which they sit down with a different team member to have a cookie, discuss areas for improvement and understand staff needs.

Tools for success

Jodi and Carolyne have poured their hearts into their business. They didn’t pay themselves for the entire first year and didn’t take a day off for the first year and a half, demonstrating their dedication and perseverance.

They both stress the importance of planning your days and organizing your priorities for the week ahead. Time block your day so you can get to everything you need to do. Keep a strong mindset by making sure you’re taking time for things that keep you grounded, such as mediation, yoga and journaling. There will always be fear and doubt, but you must manage the fear to move forward. Some days, you just need a cupcake day where you sit down, eat a cupcake and remind yourself how far you’ve come!

Jodi and Carolyne also emphasized that you will learn as you go, and you don’t need to have everything worked out before you start. The one thing they mentioned you will want to integrate early on is a good legal and accounting team. Although it can be a big investment, this has helped them immensely.

If they could leave you with some final advice, it would be to keep an open mind, be adaptable, lead with your heart and have compassion for others ⁠–⁠ and success is bound to come.

Manager, Client Advisory at Baker Tilly Catalyst, Shannon McIntosh has overcome anxiety, insecurity and depression to emerge as a voice of empowerment, helping clients and colleagues exceed expectations and break new ground. In The Bright Side, she taps into her specialized experience working with non‑profit businesses and her passion for helping organizations that support the community to offer enlightening tax, financial and business guidance to help replace self‑doubt with self‑belief.

Meet the Author

Shannon McIntosh Shannon McIntosh
Calgary, Alberta
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