How Netflix high-school grad built up a $100,000 business


Justin Ellen discovered himself at a tough crossroad when he was 17 — ought to he pursue his ardour for baking full-time, or go to school to additional his training?

At the moment, the youngest contestant of Netflix’s common baking present was making customized muffins from residence as a side-hustle, whereas additionally juggling with faculty.

He was bringing residence not less than $5,000 a month, however he could not assist however evaluate himself to his friends.

“The factor that received me down was like, I used to be seeing all my pals [apply for colleges].”

Nonetheless, the younger movie star baker caught to his weapons, believing that “everybody has their very own path.”

Simply two years later, the full-time entrepreneur and proprietor of cake enterprise, Every part Simply Baked, is incomes greater than $100,000 a 12 months — and he is not turning again.

In March this 12 months, he made his debut on Netflix’s “Is It Cake?” — a baking contest the place cake artists create edible replicas of on a regular basis objects, equivalent to bowling pins and stitching machines.

The present, which premiered on the streaming service on March 18, was within the Top 10 most-watched list in the U.S. for 4 weeks. It additionally raked in additional than 100 million hours of views from around the globe.

However the path of success shouldn’t be with out failures, Ellen tells CNBC Make It. Sheer arduous work and clever phrases from family members additionally helped prod him alongside.

‘Who made this cake?’

As a digital native, Ellen knew from the beginning that having a social media presence can be essential in constructing his enterprise. But it surely took lots of follow — and braveness — to make himself recognized. 

“To start with, my social media wasn’t nice … not nice images, they had been very blurry. However as I stored on progressing, I noticed they need to be tremendous clear.”

Ellen additionally noticed that Instagram was “actually pushing” video content material on the platform and that is when he determined to show the digital camera on himself, sharing snippets of his life as a younger baker. 

“I used to be positively shy at first as a result of it was simply awkward for me … however the extra you do it, it is like, oh nicely and truthfully nobody cares in case your hair’s somewhat frizzy at the moment,” he shared.

“Truthfully, it makes you extra relatable. Individuals wish to know the particular person behind the model and in the event that they take pleasure in you, they’re gonna wish to spend cash with you.”

Even so, Ellen mentioned that posting on social media was one thing he “did not take severely” at the beginning.

“I used to be simply posting for enjoyable. Finally, [through] phrase of mouth … individuals stored asking ‘Can I order a cake?'”

Ellen additionally slowly constructed his following and clientele by baking each time he had the prospect, even when it was for household occasions.

“It would not even need to be an enormous cake … simply make one thing small as a result of you do not know who’s going to be there. Somebody’s going to eat it and ask, ‘Who made this cake?'”

Persons are shopping for designer purses for 1000’s of {dollars}. You’ve got to make your prospects perceive the price in your model and what you are offering them …

Justin Ellen

Proprietor, Every part Simply Baked

Earlier than he knew it, he had over 50,000 followers on Instagram and was incomes about $5,000 to $9,000 a month in highschool.

“I noticed, wow, this may very well be a severe enterprise.”

From baker to entrepreneur  

As he noticed his facet hustle achieve momentum in highschool, Ellen began fascinated with pursuing baking as a profession. However not everybody authorized.

“My dad was like, a baker? I really feel like there is a connotation [with baking] like, ‘Oh, you do not make some huge cash’ or ‘You need to do lots of work,'” he mentioned.

However Ellen had larger plans for himself.

“I noticed that I did not need to assume small. There’s a lot you can do within the area … take into consideration each lane you can go into.”

“I checked out different bakers who created their enterprise — they’ve product strains, which I had no concept that that is one thing you’ll be able to even do.”

It was round this time that Ellen, like his pals round him, had to consider what’s subsequent after highschool.

“In all probability round junior 12 months, when everybody’s like looking for faculties … I used to be debating [about] going to culinary faculty. [But] I noticed it wasn’t for me,” he mentioned.

If you wish to be a baker, then go work for another person.

Justin Ellen

Proprietor, Every part Simply Baked

“I simply felt prefer it wasn’t value it and it was some huge cash. And you’ll’t actually train easy methods to do artwork in a way, it is actually simply follow — and the extra you follow, the simpler it may get.”

That was the pivotal second for Ellen, who realized he was not only a baker in highschool anymore.

“[I’m an] entrepreneur first, then a baker. If you wish to be a baker, then go work for another person.”

Greatest enterprise recommendation

Social media could have been “utterly free” to make use of as a type of advertising and marketing, however Ellen wanted assist with the preliminary capital to get his enterprise up and operating.

“To start with I used to be promoting cookies that I shipped out … I requested my dad and mom for $500 to purchase bins and different supplies.”

That was the primary and final time he ever requested his dad and mom for cash for his enterprise, he mentioned.

Operating a enterprise is dear. You do not wish to waste cash simply since you assume you could have a good suggestion.

Justin Ellen

Proprietor, Every part Simply Baked

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