Two entrepreneurs, each excelling where the other lacks, form the union that is Coastal Cake Company.
The Vancouver Island business specializes in wedding cakes, cupcakes and other delectable treats.
Catering to an island market
Starting from home in 2011, Adam Skriver and Marieke Nijenhuis opened a retail location in 2014 in Parksville, BC.
“It’s grown exponentially from where it was at home to where it is now,” says Skriver, who has a background as an electronic engineer in the oil industry and has worked as a freelance consultant.
Nijenhuis previously headed the pastry department for a catering company in Alberta.
The pair moved to Vancouver Island from Calgary, where regulations didn’t support a home-based retail business model.
“Being able to have a business from our home definitely helped us with Coastal Cake Company,” said Skriver.
Vancouver Island showed a lot of opportunity for a wedding cake business.
Through renting booths at farmers markets and wedding fairs and marketing through digital media, they spread the word about Coastal Cake Company and found a significant market.
In its first summer with a retail location, the company had two part-time and one fulltime staff member. This year, they’re adding another fulltime staffer.
Finding the right employees and effectively allocating their skills has been one of the biggest challenges they’ve faced.
“There are some people who are more skilled with customers and some people who are better in the kitchen,” said Skriver. “Staffing is a bigger challenge that I ever imagined it to be.”
But it’s not the only obstacle he’s run into.
“Every day there are challenges,” said Skriver. “If you’re not challenged, you must not be doing anything as an entrepreneur.”
Nobody can do his job but him, and likewise with Nijenhuis, a hallmark of entrepreneurs.
Skriver admits to sometimes feeling like a fraud, like he’s making it up as he goes along.
“That’s true of any venture,” he said. “You really have to put everything on the line to get an idea off the ground.”
His advice for would-be entrepreneurs: look at what you’re passionate about and determine what you’re willing to sacrifice for it.
“Are you willing to lay your time on the line, your money on the line? In a venture you have to lay everything on the line, sometimes your family, your emotions. It’s not an easy thing to go out on your own. Being an entrepreneur, you are taking everything that you are and putting it into one idea.”
That passion and belief in your project will get you through the bad days. At the same time, you have to be realistic with the scope of your business and what you can commit to.
“Even if you have a bad customer or project, or some kind of pitfall comes and everything you thought was going to go perfect goes bad, you still have to have the ability to get up the next day and keep moving through the next problem,” said Skriver.
Coastal Cake Company works because of the commitment he and Nijenhuis have.
“If you’re really passionate about something, you really think it’s a good idea, you’ve done as much research as you can to perceive the unknowns, then I think you should just try it and do it,” said Skriver.
“All that’s really on the line is your time and money. If you’re not willing to lose your time and money, then you should stay with your day job.”
Find out more about Coastal Cake Company at http://www.coastalcakecompany.com.