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Meet Trailblazer Holly K Naylor

Today we’d like to introduce you to Holly K Naylor.

Holly, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Since graduating from college in 2003 (go Sun Devils!) I’ve worn many hats. I started out as a TV reporter in Lawrence, Kansas. Then life took me down south to Oklahoma where I switched careers and got into marketing & public relations. And then life took me back home again, to Long Beach, CA.

I spent the next five to six years working at different marketing agencies and I was happy at the time with the creative outlet my corporate job provided me. Then life kicked me in the butt. My sister and my grandma became very ill. And I got fired. All of that happened in the course of one week. I got a new job that I love very quickly, but the year that followed was the hardest of my life while my sister and grandma recovered. I fell into a deep depression. I needed something to get me out of the house, something that was just for me and that made me happy. I opened up the local Parks & Rec catalog and found a cake decorating class. I’ve always loved to bake so it felt like the perfect fit. After that, I started making cakes for any and all gatherings that I was invited to for practice, including my friend’s kid’s birthday parties. The parents at those parties started asking me to make cakes for their kids and it all snowballed from there. It’s been almost eight years since I made my first cake. I could have dreamed how far that one little cake decorating class could take me.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Starting your own business is never easy, I’ve stumbled many times but I’ve learned from every mistake. The biggest struggle in the beginning is pricing. I did all the research and priced out all my ingredients, but for the first two years I was sorely undercharging and barely making any profit. As a self-taught baker and decorator, I struggled with the confidence that I’m was “good enough.” I couldn’t get myself to charge what I was really worth. It took time and support from fellow small business owners for me to develop that confidence. And that’s really the best advice – find a support network. I was lucky enough to stumble into a group of local wedding vendors who all shared similar struggles. We were able to share and learn from each other and grow our businesses. If you can’t find a local group, Facebook is also a great resource for finding groups of business owners. Ask questions, make mistakes, keep learning!

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Cakes By Holly K – what should we know?
I make edible art and I make people smile. Cakes are meant to bring people joy and I strive to make the whole process, from the start of the ordering process to the last bite of cake easy and fun. I’m honest to a fault. I have no problem turning down a cake because the client wants a cake that I do not feel I can execute, or that promotes themes that do not align with my values. For example, I have a policy that I will not make any cake that glamorizes violence and that includes video games like Fortnite. I get a good number of quote requests that I turn away for that reason. I love what I do and choose to focus on the positive, fun, quirky and lovable aspects of life.

My most proud moment came in 2019 when I had the opportunity to assist Shannon Davie of The Happy Caker (formerly in Torrance, CA, now in Westminster, CO) on the Food Network’s Halloween Cake-Off. It was a thrilling and exhausting experience that culminated in a win!! The day we won, I thought about myself all those years ago going to a Parks & Rec cake decorating class just to give myself something to do. It was a full-circle moment that I’ll never forget and will always be grateful for.

We’re interested to hear your thoughts on female leadership – in particular, what do you feel are the biggest barriers or obstacles?
I love this new wave of feminism. There is a renewed spirit of sisterhood that has emerged and I’m 100% here for it. As a female solopreneur, the only barriers that exist are the ones that I allow. The wedding industry is female-dominated so I get to live in a rose-colored world of inspiring boss-babes who are happy to assist and cheer each other on as we grow our businesses. This is a great time to be a woman in business.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Shelly Anderson Photography; Food Network; J. Perryman Photography; Nola Fontanez Photography; Devon Donnahoo Photography; Hues of Love Photography; Doskofoto

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