We had the good fortune of connecting with Michael & Priscilla Sweet and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michael & Priscilla, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risk taking is a must for our business. Capitalist business entrepreneurs like us both know full well that the market is the deciding factor to the risk we’ve taken. We embrace it full heartedly, with wide open eyes, and keen awareness. Risk for us means being open to and testing potential opportunities. Knowing that some will come at a loss but those losses are lessened by the gains we achieve. Risk taking also means being aware of our outcomes and adjusting accordingly. Risk has allowed us to branch into uncomfortable circumstances knowing full well how we are doing, how to manage ourselves (our values, emotions, actions), and handle the outcomes that follow. We never take on risks that stretch our boundaries so far as to potentially sabotage our business in its entirety. Nor do we take on risks that have nothing to do with our niche business focus. We have taken risks that may have, if negative is the focus, considerably weakened our business. We’ve done this with preparation to revert back to old ways or, if possible and much better to, pivot in an agile manner. This means learning conducting many small pivots to get up further along. Risk taking for us also means being ‘street smart’ of sorts. That is, lessons learned while operating. Lessons that no one could have prepared you for, or if they could, would still have required that we experience it ourselves.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Priscilla & Michael are the perfect yin-yang business owners. Silver Rose Bakery was created in pursuit of Priscilla’s love for baking celebration cakes & desserts and Michael’s unstoppable entrepreneurial ego. The result was an explosive journey of calculated risk taking and extreme ownership, not to mention the absolutely delicious creations that have new and returning customers ordering online everyday. Let me start with Priscilla Sweet. If you wanted to hire an employee, who would you hire? Well, obviously someone who is determined in their work and doesn’t sit around. Well, that is Priscilla, a manager and team builder at heart with a “I don’t eat until it’s done right” work mentality. As a business owner she has made this way of operating part of the culture. Even when the bakery takes on more orders than it can chew she gears the bakery into buckling down and kicking butt. She is an adapter, able to accept the changes in her environment and continue on as if nothing is getting in her way. Let’s move to Michael Sweet, who is most definitely the type of entrepreneur that makes people follow in inspiration, while wanting to pull their hair out and scream, all the while knowing that the end result is pure awesomeness. But, that wasn’t the ‘end’. In order for a business to thrive successfully it requires two types of minds. One that is impulsive to get every project done and done right (Priscilla) and the other that endlessly finds more projects, some that may not even get started on for years to come. The latter is Michael. Every lightbulb moment, whether from Priscilla, himself, or others, has potential to become something huge and therefore needs to be investigated. Just like the ancient Greeks took methods from other cultures, so Michael also has the knack of discovering how things are done and then manipulated those ways to improve the bakery business. Now on to your questions. What sets us apart is the yin yang that we share as business owners. We are both in a mentality that the bakery brings us the most happiness and we must make it even more grand. This isn’t always the case for a lot of would be bakerpreneurs who limit their reach in fear of failure. Failure is a part of success and must be accept and learned from. We are so proud of how far our bakery has come in the 5 years of its existence. Two of those years were just as just a hobby, a side gig. It was the when the bakery became our only means of living did it also allow us to full express unique personas. We went from literally nothing in the bank. We started in the beginning of summer in Arizona, which is the dead season for events and most celebrations. Thinking back to the times when we’d deliver a dozen cake pops for $12, literally a loss but it paid something that needed paying. Thinking back to trying to sell at farmers markets where we end up at a loss from all the wasted product, the cost of the booth, and time sitting around because no one wanted sweets. Thinking back to when Michael cried because the cell phone bill was two months over due and about shut off. Thinking back when Priscilla was so overwhelmed in bills and work load she broke down crying. These emotional moments test you, they test your values, they test your strength. It’s looking back now that our stress comes from the fact that we are panicking in we need a brick and mortar location asap because so many orders are coming in we simply have to start turning orders away. It is so wonderful, life fulfilling, life changing that we have can tell ourselves that our biggest struggles are because we are too successful. Silver Rose Bakery, named in inspiration from the Sweet coat of arms (though we aren’t sure we are related), is a bakery taking on new dimensions to the already heavily saturated celebration cake bakery business. For us, we live by our why “to truly provide a Sweet experience so those celebrating receive cheerful memories and lasting smiles.” This why goes into every order we take on. At present we are a delivery only bakery with the options of ordering personalized cakes and desserts online or scheduling a call to discuss unique creations. We started in the wedding business, where we still dominate the Arizona market and the leading wedding cake and dessert bakery based on quality and price. We are excited to announce that something even more special is in the works for our first brick and mortar location, but we are keeping the details a secret. It will be so cool….!
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.
Ha ha ha. Goodness, you’re asking business owners who’s thought of a good time is to work even more… Nonetheless, let’s dive into the things we’d do together. So we both are huge fans of dining out. When we do, we tend to be particular on a few places. For our date nights and special intimate occasions with very close friends or business partners, we go to Merkin Vineyards in Scottsdale for delicious meat and cheese boards and the best wine anyway. For an outing we enjoy visiting the Phoenix symphony and the Musical Instrument Museum, as well as the local Zoo’s like the Wildlife World Zoo (we love feeding the animals). Arizona has the best hiking trails if you’re one who wants to actually see the world around not just trees all around. That said, the Camelback Mountain trials are a fun challenge while some of the west valley trails are great for a casual yet challenging trail. We also love road trips up to northern Arizona. The small community environments, combined with rich forest, red rock and granite stone mountain sites, definitely give us a great get away comfort experience.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
We would like to give a big shout out to Ayn Rand the author and the folks at the Ayn Rand Institute. The book is, and bear with us, The Virtue of Selfishness. The book’s title I’m sure brings a sense of loathing but it is important to understand how this book in part has helped us embraces our individual accomplishments and not be buckled down to the negative opinions of others. When you are a deciding to become an entrepreneur, and this was very true for Priscilla, you are deciding to most likely quite a well paying job to start from nothing. This requires self-esteem, self-confidence, and egoism that focuses on you embracing who you are and achieving your own happiness. Michael was the first to have read this book, and he had done some many years ago. It helped him in becoming confident in himself and realizing that his life is his own and he can make with it whatever he wants, and most importantly that he is doing because it makes him happy. Priscilla, like many, saw the title of the book and believed it meant “big people taking advantage of the little people”. To her surprise it wasn’t the case. For her it was a re-assurance of her already very strong personal confidence. It slashed away the remaining thoughts that others control her perception, but let her know that listening to others opinion are great when it is based on the objective outcomes she is looking to obtain.
Youtube: in the works…
Close up of Michael (wearing tan) and Priscilla (wearing black) by Rebekah De La Fontaine Photography