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Sunshine of your days, it’s Sugar Ray’s!

Junior Rachel Morrison, Sugar Ray’s Sweet Shop owner, talks about her baking business

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Alina Yu

Where does your passion for baking come from?

Growing up, I always loved watching “The Cake Boss;” that’s really where it came from. I just thought it was so cool that you could make something that means so much to people. You can make anything that goes with (your) passions, and you get to eat it. My grandma also baked a lot for my dad and my uncles, so I don’t know if I inherited a baking trait from her, but that’s something that we share together.

How long have you been baking?

I think it’s been six years since I’ve started more seriously. I’ve always loved baking. I would always make cookie dough for my brother and sister.

Where do your recipes come from?

Mostly online or cookbooks that I find. I like pairing different things together.

What is your signature item?

My mom would say my chocolate cake. I think that’s my most popular cake flavor. I don’t have a signature birthday cake because I don’t have an actual bakery where I can set that up, but I would say chocolate cake is my signature flavor.

Have you made other items?

I’ve done cookies and cupcakes. I have tried to make macarons but not for sale.

What is your favorite item to bake? Explain why.

I like decorating more than baking. I have to get through the baking part of it. I like cakes the most. You can do the most with them. I have tried different techniques, which is easy to do with cake.

Of all things, why baking?

I think it is something that I grew up with. I don’t why I started; I mean I just loved cookie dough, so I think that’s where I started my chocolate chip cookie dough. That just grew into (the business).

Tell me about a funny time related to baking.

I had this Bulldog cake that I was making for a graduation party. I wanted to do a life-sized bulldog, which looking back, I was in eighth grade, (so it) probably wasn’t the best idea to sign myself up for (it), but I was like, “I’m gonna go for it.” There’s this baking supplies store by the Speedway that we go to, and they would always help me out with on doing new things, so they told me that I would have to get a wooden board for it; this was going to be so much cake that I had to get that. I had to get a wooden rod thing, so it wouldn’t topple over. I did probably eight layers of cake and carved it, and the head was made of rice krispies. I did all of the measurements of how tall my cake layers would be and how it would stack up, so I made the head the size it should be to fit on the rod. I must have miscalculated something or the cakes didn’t turn out right because the head had a rod poking through it, so I had to take the head off and all of the cakes and then my neighbor came over and sawed off a part of the rod, so that it would fit.

What is the best cake you’ve ever created?

One of my favorites is definitely the lab coat that I did for my dad because at that point it was just-and it still is-but at that point it was something I was just passionate about, and it was for my dad, so you could see the hard work I put in to make him proud and happy for his birthday. I did this one (where the customer) really liked penguins. I don’t really remember where it came from, but I thought it was really cute. There were little penguins on it doing ice skating things. The bulldog wasn’t exactly how I wanted it to turn out, and I would have done it differently, but (it was all about) the work that I put into it. It’s not my favorite ending, but the process that I did try to challenge myself makes it one of the ones that I will always remember.

What else have you done with baking other than your baking business?

I’m involved in the Global Interfaith Partnership, which helps to send kids to Kenya in high school, so I’ve started now I’m gonna donate 50 percent of whatever I (earn) to them. I’ve also made cakes for them to sell at events we have, and I also work at a bakery now, so that’s where I use my baking skills.

What is the name of your baking business?

Sugar Ray’s Sweet Shop.

Where did this idea of a baking business come from?

I made a lab coat cake for my dad. I posted it on Instagram, and someone messaged me and said, “That cake is so cool; where’d you get it?” and I was like, “Oh, I made that.” That’s where the idea making cakes and selling them came from.

Rachel Morrison
SUIT UP: Morrison displays the cake that inspired her to start her business. Morrison said this cake is one of her favorites because it made her father happy; baking became a true passion at that point.

When did you start this baking business?

It was probably right before my Bat Mitzvah. When we were planning my Bat Mitzvah, my Bat Mitzvah theme was “baking” and the graphic designer who helped do decorations came up with the logo I use now, so I think it was around that time.

Who has helped you the most along the way?

My mom has helped with supporting me in learning more and taking me to get materials at Speedway. My dad has helped in getting orders. He posts a lot on Facebook, and a lot of his coworkers have ordered cakes from me, so I call him my marketer, and my mom is my sous chef because she cleans up after me, so it’s very useful when I’m making a cake at 9 (p.m.), and I have homework to do and sleep to get.

Where did the name of your business come from?

One of my good friends on the team, her mom would always call me Sugar Ray because that’s a boxer and I was very aggressive on the field, and she knew I love baking. She would always call me Sugar Ray, so that’s where I came up with the name.

Tell me a little bit about the process you went through to start this business.

My mom looked into getting it legalized, but I didn’t know about that, so I haven’t gotten knowledge about it. I looked up a lot because it was middle school, so I had a lot of time, so I looked up starting a business and researched a lot about finances. I remember I created this excel spreadsheet, so I could do my income and my expenses and all of that, and then I created a website and social media sites, which I’m still trying to work to promote it.

What was/were your goal(s), if any, starting this business?

I never wanted it to be something where I was stressing about it a lot or that it became a chore or a job. It was something that I really wanted to do for fun, and I obviously can’t just make cakes and give them out, so I had to sell them for a price. I obviously can’t sell them at the same price as a bakery does.

What is the price range for your baking items at your bakery?

For a standard birthday cake, it would be $40 which might be $80 at a real bakery, but I feel uncomfortable charging that much. The Butler Bulldog was $150, and that’s the most I’ve ever done.

If there exists any, tell me about some changes you have made to this business since you first started it.

I had trouble with the fact that people would be like,“I want a cake,” and I’d be like,“What flavor do you want?”And they’d be like, “What flavors do you have?” And so I really had to create a menu on my website, so it’s easier for that. Also with pricing, they’d always be like,“What price?” And, I’d be like,“Um,dad?” And so, I’ve have created a way to do it based off serving size, which is what normal bakeries do. A certain size cake is this much and you add on for whatever decorations because I didn’t really know how to price things.

Take me through the steps once someone has contacted you about baking something for them.

Usually there’s a lot of information I have to get from them about what they want, what flavor they want, how big they need, allergy information, what they want for decoration, and then after that I usually make the cake a week ahead of time, so the weekend before because I am a high school student, so I have to do it in the afternoons and I also have other stuff going on, and so usually on the Sunday, I bake the cake and then throughout the week I do different steps like leveling the cake, filling it, putting it actually together, frosting it and decorating it. I usually have the most time during the weekends, so it’s easier to do it this way, and this usually works out fast.

What items do you typically make for people?

Usually it’s cakes.

If people came back multiple times, why do you think they come back to you?

People do come back to me, especially family friends, which is always nice. My parents always want me to put business cards with it, but that always seemed really cheap to me.

What are some benefits running a baking business?

I feel more comfortable talking to adults, especially with people I don’t know that well. I’ve also learned how to make a website. I’ve wanted to get into more into photography because I want to take good pictures. I still think it’s cool how different passions can lead to other interests. I love to keep learning, so it’s really helped me find different things to learn.

What are some of the challenges running a business?

(Running the business) around homework and other commitments has been difficult; it’s really taught me how to manage my time. There are times when people asked me to do something, and I can’t. They seem to come in groups. I won’t have any cakes to do, and then all of a sudden I have three cakes, and I’m like ‘I can’t do this; I have to study for this test.’ I learned how to manage my time and how to say no when I know I have reached my limit.

What makes you continue this baking business despite all of the challenges?

I’ve especially noticed when I don’t have (orders) for a while, I’m like, ‘Wow I forgot how much I love doing this.’ When I show the cake to whomever I’m giving, I love seeing their face when they first see it. I like hearing about it if they enjoyed it after they’ve eaten it. Just being able to see my improvement over the years, I’d like to think I’ve improved.

What are your thoughts on continuing this baking business later on in life?

A lot of people ask me if I’m going to culinary school. I don’t see it as a life career. Maybe when I’m older, but there are other passions I want to explore.

Looking back on how the business has evolved, would you say your business is successful?

I would say this business was successful. Of course there’s always more you can do, but with the time I have, I think it has been successful.

What is your advice for anyone who is thinking about starting a baking business or a just business based on their passion?

I think it definitely needs to be something you’re passionate about because if you’re not passionate about it, and you’re already a high school student, it’s going to become a chore and (you’ll start) to use up time that is already limited. I also think knowing what your limit is (is important): You don’t want to be always stressed all the time, so learning how to limit yourself (is important). Everyone wants to do everything, but it’s not always the best thing to do. I (also think to)  keep learning and researching (is important) because that’s just how you improve.

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About the Writer
Christina Yang, Feature Editor
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