We had the good fortune of connecting with Caroline Axen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Caroline, what is the most important factor behind your success?
As someone who accidentally started a small business by the age of 14, it is hard to name one single thing that led me to success, but I will say that the success of my business all lies in the fact that I love what I do. As I have grown as an individual and as a baker, my business has grown with me and at the pace I have wanted to grow at. I’m a strong believer that success does not come overnight and takes hard work, and luckily for me when you love what you do, hard work comes just a bit easier, but in my case specifically my passion for baking grew and in result it created a business. In this stage of life, at age 18, I am beyond proud of my success, I am a completely self taught baker who makes some pretty awesome desserts that make peoples’ special events just a little more special. There are not a lot of 18 year olds that have already worked as a pastry cook at a 5 star resort. But thinking about how it came to be, I laugh a little. There are people that spend years building a business using specific strategy and analytics to create something successful, and instead my success came through passion and pretty much winging it as I go.
My success in this chapter of life is more than I could have ever imagined, but I also know that I am no where close to reaching the success I am capable of. I am just now, at age 18, starting to realize my worth and the worth of what I create. No matter how yummy something might be, how good it may look, or how much people are willing to pay, it is really easy at the age of 16 to tell yourself that with no professional training, no “legit” business, and with everything being produced from a home kitchen that your goods and services are not worth that much, and are equally comparable to something you can buy at the grocery store. My passion is what kept me going and growing, and just now I can start to acknowledge the time I have spent and that my personal touch as an artist holds value. As a young individual I strive to keep growing my business with big plans that start with attending business school to equip myself with the tools to launch my success even further. My passion and love for what I do isn’t going anywhere, so watch out Arizona because Baking with Sweet Caroline can only grow!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Though I am a young entrepreneur, I consider myself an artist above all other things and the reason being that the artistry in baking is where most of my passion lives. As a kid I always loved art class and took art all 4 years of high school and I loved it. I’m talented, but definitely wasn’t the most talented studio artist in the class, but my artistic talents came to life in the kitchen. I learned the principals of art and design in the classroom at school and taught myself how to apply them to baking at home. Often bakers like myself master the art of creating something that tastes delicious and then conquer the art of making it look good. I’m a little different in the sense that making things look good came easier but many tears came with the challenge of making a cake that actually tasted good. Now I am proud to say that every cake and cookie tastes just as good (or maybe even better) than it looks, but it took time to get there. All artists have a style and I can confidently say that I have come to the point where I have my own style, which is hard to say in the baking world. It can be hard to make a chocolate cake look different than all of the other chocolate cakes on the Internet, and its also hard to learn the difference between copying something versus using it as inspiration.
Though the internet comes with many benefits, I can easily admit that it has also created challenges to overcome. I love Instagram because not only have I been able to create this awesome portfolio of work that visually demonstrates how far I have grown, but I have also been able to gain so much inspiration from other awesome creators, and been able to connect with so many bakers just like myself in this virtual community. But I also hate social media because as someone who practiced daily to grow as an artist and dedicated years of free time to growing to become the baker I am, social media makes it to easy to compare yourself to others. It’s too easy to look at someone else’s page and automatically devalue yours. As a teenager comparing was a little to easy and has been a big challenge I have worked to overcome. I used to put too much attention towards counting likes and follows, and I even still catch myself doing it occasionally, but I also now can understand that likes and follows say absolutely nothing about my skill level. No matter the followers, I am proud of the artistic style I have developed. Not everyone can paint on buttercream cakes!!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
As someone who is a Tucson native, born and raised here, I would have tons to show an out of town visitor. As I start freshman year at the University of Arizona this fall I am actually really looking forward to being able to show new friends from out of state the different spots around Tucson and Arizona! Sabino Canyon is a definite must visit for some awesome hiking and views and is one of my favorite spots. Pinetop, Arizona (about 4 hours North of Tucson) also holds a special place in my heart, being my home away from home where I love spending summers. The weather is wonderful and most of my favorite AZ memories are from time spent up in the mountains!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I owe a great deal of my success to all the people that have ordered from me from the beginning along with my family. My customers have given me an outlet to grow my skills and develop what I have today while my family has been the most crucial support system behind the scenes. I pride myself in being a one woman show, and every order produced has been specially made by me, but I also know that without my family, and my Mom specifically, that it would be impossible to create what I create. And to my customers, you are the ones that really created this business, asking for treats when I wasn’t even selling them, bringing me to the place I am today. I seriously love what I do. I have clients who have trusted me year after year with birthday cakes and holiday treats galore, and I thank you for sticking around and watching me grow.
Other: email: email@example.com