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Starting a Business and College Majors

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Ok here's my dilemma... I never even truly considered this until reading messages on this site.

I'm almost 18 and I'm going to college next fall for a bachelor's degree. There's no question about that. I've always thought that I'd major in some sort of photography and design and even at a certain school. This has been the case for years.

I've always loved cooking, especially baking. I've made MANY cakes and people always love them. When anyone in my immediate family has to bring something to a party/pot-luck/gathering, I make it and everyone knows that. I'm expected to and not just by my family, but by the people at the gathering too. They are very well aware of what I do. I've always thought in the back of my mind that it would be awesome to bake/decorate for a living, but never seriously considered it because I wasn't sure exactly where to start. Today, it hit me...I should major in business with a minor or double major in culinary (even the same for photography because I'd want to have my own business with that too). DUH! It makes total sense. The thing that really scares me is that I'd have to go to a totally different school than I've been planning to for the last few years. I've applied to an awesome art school that doesn't offer any type of business or culinary classes. I know that getting in there isn't even a tiny problem, I just still need that "official" letter. So that isn't a problem/concern. I've been taking some classes at a local private college for the last 2 years, but I've never truly thought that I would go there. They offer business management with a concentration in baking! How perfect is that? They also offer photography and graphic design if I were to decide later that this cake decorating/baking thing isn't for me. I would be able to keep the business part of my major and just change my minor, which wouldn't be a problem. It just wouldn't be my "dream" school (who knows maybe this will become my new "dream" school). I've gone there for the past 2 years and I do like it there (very small school with SUPER facilities). I know plenty of teachers there and I really like them too. I already have 16 credits from there that I always thought that I would transfer somewhere else. It's also MUCH closer to my house, which would save thousands of dollars over the years (tuition is cheaper too, but that's another story). I'd also get $2,000(per year...maybe even per semester, but I think it's per year) in scholarships without even trying because I took those other classes. I'm sure that I'd qualify for other scholarships too. Right now I'm reading a lot of books and internet articles and also am going to take some decorating classes soon to get the feel of the whole thing. I've thought about working at a bakery too. I also live near the Wilton School so taking classes there would be a very easy option for me if I go into this completely (another plus). Any other suggestions/ideas for me?

Here are my questions...

Have you gone down a similar route (college-wise...classses, majors, etc)?
Have you started your own home-business or regular bakery and what did it take? (This REALLY scares me)
Do you know anything about home kitchens in Illinois? (regulations, who to contact, inspections, fees, etc)
How expensive was it to start a business like this? ( I don't need a number like $24,382.17, but just an estimate/ball-park figure.)
What would you suggest I do to learn more about this?


Thank you so much for reading my post (I know it was long). I'd appreciate any advice or comments that you have to offer. I really need someone to either push me over the edge or pull me back to my original plans. So which is it...Push or Pull?

~Megan
post #2 of 11
Megan,

Although I cannot answer your questions I will say that everything happens for a reason. You have listed a lot of 'pros' as to why you should attend the college near you, do you know of any 'cons' other than it's not your 'dream' college? Things change, even dreams, sometimes even for the better. If this feels really right to you, I mean REALLY right, then that is what you should do.

I do know that working in the food industry is no 'piece of cake' (yes, pun intended!) and I don' t believe there are many of us on here that make our livings 100% from a home-based bakery. Most work outside the home and it's not easy.

I hope you do find the answers you are looking for, listen to your head and your heart.

Good luck!
post #3 of 11
The old saying "knowledge is power" came to me, half way through your post. Maybe somewhere deep down, you are feleing like if you can't attend your dream college, it won't be worth it, no matter what, while still knowing in your head, that the right thing to do might just be to finish with the college you are already attending. If you are happy with the quality of everything you've done and seen at this school, then why change? The end result, the piece of paper/diploma/degree(s) you recieve all will have the same meaning, no matter where they are from.

I think it's great you have so many interests that could all tie together. We can tell you what we think, but we all know, you will go with your heart eventually. Maybe though, we'll be able to help you sort out what your heart REALLY needs, more than wants.
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post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for your quick reply.

I realize that bakeries are an extremely tough thing to operate, especially when just starting. I have no intentions of completely living off of the income from a home-based bakery the day I graduate from college. No worries there...(although that would be nice). I would try working at a bakery or two during college to start (one of my grandma's really good friends for 55+ years owns her own bakery and I might be able to start there) and maybe selling an occasional cake or two to family and friends from my house. My TRUE dream is to be a mommy, so in reality once I have kids baking would become more of an "extra income", which is one reason why I really want the flexibility that something like this would offer. I would have the option to...make the occasion cake/baked good for family/friends, work PT at a bakery, own my own bakery, have a home-based bakery, etc. It really does seem to be fairly flexible. I've also thought of renting a commercial kitchen if laws and regulations won't permit the use of a home kitchen.

I, too, am a huge believer in everything happens for a reason. I know that God will guide me wherever I need to be and he will aid me in getting there. Since I can't be sure of his plans, I'm looking for some advice of those who have been here too.

Thanks and I look forward to reading more replies.
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
It's not the college that I'm worried about so much as it is a complete change in my plans and dreams. The college itself doesn't really matter too much, I'm more concerned with the change of majors and life after college (starting this business & working). I guess I'm really looking for advice and information on starting and managing a business rather than which college I should attend. That I can very well decide on my own. Thanks again.

~Megan
post #6 of 11
Wow! Okay, I understand where you are coming from to some extent. I am going back to college this semester, actually the first day of classes was today. I struggled with this because baking and decorating are all I like to do. I have ALWAYS wanted my own business and I had trouble seeing where college fit into that. I stopped going to school, had my children, and am now returning for one reason. OPTIONS!! Yes, I love to bake, and cook, and decorate and like you people have come to expect my items at events/get togethers. If for some reason I can't decorate one day or I need more money or whatever, I want to be able get the type of job I want.

So, I say this to say, if you have your foot in the door somewhere, go for it. Someone told me as I was struggling to decide to go back to school that my aspirations in the pastry/culinary fields have nothing to do with college. I can get my bachelor's, master's whatever and still keep up with what is going on in food. You can still be an awesome decorator, etc. and go to school where ever you like! You are NOT limited! If everything is in place at the school you planned to attend and you can improve your skills as a decorator (if that's what you want) you really have no conflict. Just remember this,

Someone told me this quote when I was your age:

"These are the best years, use them wisely."

Those words are so true. Live life so you have as few regrets as possible. No one gets everything right the first time and neither will you. You are at a place and time in you life where you can explore and do thing according to what you want. Enjoy that because it will end soon enough. Whatever you choose to do, step out on faith and do it. Trust God and do it. You never know what direction He will lead you in. Nothing but the best wishes to you and the wonderful years yet to come!
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post #7 of 11
Megan~ WOW reading your post is like reading the story of my life lately. I, too, am in college and wanting to pursue a cake decorating career. I went to a university last semester, loved it, planned to major in business, and thought I would finish there. However, I guess God has different plans for me. I, too, really just desire to get married and be a mommy, so that is one of the reasons that I am pursuing cake decorating ( and the fact that I absolutely love to decorate cakes). I am going to a community college now for an associates in business. I know there is not much "prestige" in an associate's degree, but for what I want in life, I feel as though it is sufficient for me. I am not getting my business degree in hopes of being some mogul in the corporate world, I am getting my business degree for the knowledge of knowing how to run a simple, home-based business. I think God is showing me that I do not need to spend so much money and time for a bachelor's degree. He knows and has given me the desires in my heart, and He knows what it takes to make my every dream come true. I'm thankful that he got through this thick head of mine and I really think I am making the best possible decision. I don't really know if this encourages you or even relates to you, but I just thought I'd share my 2 cents! Hope everything works out well for you! icon_lol.gif
When everything else seems to fail, remember: Jesus is crazy about YOU!
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When everything else seems to fail, remember: Jesus is crazy about YOU!
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post #8 of 11
When I was in high school, I was trying to decide between going to school in RI (I live in NY) for culinary, or going to a school in OH for fashion. I chose the fashion route, and boy do I ever regret it! I ended up leaving half way into the second semester because I hated it so much! I am now married and have two little girls, and after realizing that the local community school has one of the best culinary programs in NY state, I decided to go back to school and get the degree that I should of persued in the first place! I LOVE cooking and baking, and always have. Now it's so obvious to me, but I guess you learn by your mistakes.

I have been trying to start my own business while I'm in school. I actually had so much business just fall in my lap this holiday season, including giving cooking lessons. From my understanding, the regulations here are that you must have a seperate working area from your family used kitchen, and that all of the food must be seperate from personal use. I'm not going to get licensed right now because I don't have the funds to rent a space and put in a new kitchen, but hopefully within the next few years I'll be able to.

I guess my advice to you is to go with what your heart is saying. If baking is something that you love and love doing, go for it.
post #9 of 11
Hey Megan -

It's not my dream to be a decorator - I'm just in it to be able to make cute cakes for my daughter's (and soon second child's) birthday. But - here's something that is true of all of my friends (most of us have a master's degree, everyone has at least a bachelor's - even a few PhDs thrown in among us). You will question your major and probably change it at least once before you finally claim one as your own.

So, if you're changing (or even thinking about changing) it before you get to school, you're simply ahead of the game. I got a worthless (to me) bachelor's degree before I figured out what I wanted and went back to get an unrelated but much more fulfilling master's degree.

Nothing is written in stone for you - you carve as you go. And it sounds like you're near Chicago which means there are many types of schools and many options for you to explore.

Good luck!
Christy
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post #10 of 11
Megan,
First off, welcome to CC! I also live in northern IL! So I can answer a couple of your IL related questions. In fact, I am in the process of researching the requirements for getting a home kitchen certified. The state codes require 1-it must not be the same kitchen you prepare food/eat in with your family. 2-it must have a door that can be closed and locked. 3-you need separate appliances from your home use, then there the smaller details like sealed smooth walls, etc. I got a copy of the codes from the local health department. In Boone county, they follow the state codes. You'll want to check with Cook county to see if they have stricter requirements or not. All that said, just know that if you have space for a room in your basement it is possible.

My advice would be to still consider following your 'dream'. You may never get another chance, and regret is an awful thing to live with. You can work at a bakery without having a culinary degree, but you will never be taken seriously in the fashion industry without some credentials. If it doesn't work out for you at the other college, you will still have plan B. Like everyone has said, follow your heart. Only you and God know what lies there, make the most of it! icon_smile.gif Good luck with your decisions!
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post #11 of 11
Megan
I know how it feels to change (or even think about) your major, When I did it I felt like a river fish that was dumped in the ocean in cold salty water LOL. I chose pharmacy, three years into it (sorry fro my dreadful story) I had to stop after getting married and having a child (she's five now), now that I tried baking I fell in love with it, but it did sound rediculous to give up a pharm D for baking, luckily with a little research I found a pharmacy school that offered lecture classes online but labs during the summer, I was so happy when I found it I started to cry icon_cry.gif Now not only can I be a mom I can bake and get my degree. In your case business, culinary and photography (you'll be surprise what a good picture of your cakes would do to your business) are a match made in heaven.
My only suggestion is try to take as many classes online as you can it'll give you enough time to do your baking and studying without too much trouble.
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