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Melanie Horner
Artisan Pastry Chef (More Than) Ready to Open Her Bakery

The Cake Studio, Melanie Horner

Title / Role: Founder, Chief Baker & Icer
Location: Owings Mills, Maryland
Formed in: 2016
My successes.

I started a cottage industry and am now about to open a storefront bakery in Owings Mills. I have had several wedding cake tastings and three orders on the books. I recently exhibited at the Baltimore Wedding Expo, was on WBAL TV in December 2022, and had one of my cakes featured in the Winter/Spring 2023 Baltimore Weddings magazine.

What do you do?

The Cake Studio is a bakery offering custom-order cakes for all occasions, cake pints, cookies, tarts, brownies, macarons, and other desserts.

What inspired you to start your business?

I have worked in the pastry field since my graduation from Johnson & Wales in 2013. In 2016, I started working as a pastry chef for The Cake Studio, helping to build the business from its initial build-out. Three years later, I was in talks with the business owner to buy it from her when the pandemic hit and the physical business closed. I did end up buying all of the equipment and storing it. I also moved home to Delaware to ride out the pandemic and save money. My plans were put on hold for the next 18 months.

What's special about your business?

The Cake Studio bakes luxury cakes that are not only visually interesting, they are delicious. All cakes are baked to order and made from scratch.

What influenced you to seek help from SCORE?

I had focused on the operations in school, not how to run a business. A friend of my mother's recommended that reach out to SCORE for help. I searched the SCORE website for a mentor who understood the industry and with whom I would feel comfortable. Found SCORE Mentor Maria Lewis and requested her assistance on the basics of running a business. We had our first meeting in May 2021 and started addressing some issues that might arise from the purchase of the business.

How SCORE helped.

At Maria's insistence, I started a cottage business in part to earn some needed revenue and build numbers for a lender, Starting the cottage business helped me realize the number of customers who want to purchase my cakes (and many more waiting to place orders) and exposed me to issues such as delivery and marketing. Maria worked with me on my business plan and helped to prepare me for meetings with funders. While ultimately unsuccessful, the process of applying for loans was a learning experience. I also took advantage of SCORE's webinars on a variety of topics.

What's great about my mentor?

Maria encouraged and advised me, but most importantly she held me accountable. She was persistent.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting a small business?

Get a mentor. They are there to help you.

What would you tell a fellow business owner about SCORE?

Believe in yourself and surround yourself with people who believe in you and support you.

Additional media
Cake by The Cake Studio
Wedding Cake from the Cake Studio
My mentors
Headshot of Maria Lewis
Maria Lewis

Hospitality Start-Up, Recovery & Transition Special Event Sales & Operations Hospitality...

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712 H St NE PMB 98848
Washington, DC 20002
(443) 860-6194

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