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Turning a Dream into Reality

Sweet Gourmet, Karen Ambrose

Title / Role: Owner/ Pastry Chef
Location: Princeton , New Jersey
Formed in: 2017
What do you do?

Sweet Gourmet is a bake to order gourmet bakery. We offer custom made desserts for all occasions. Recently we have added nationwide shipping of our gourmet cookies.

What inspired you to start your business?

I cannot remember a time when I was not in the kitchen. I taught myself to bake and decorate cakes at the age of 8 and never looked back. After attending culinary school, I worked in professional kitchens for a few years and ended up taking what would be a 20-year hiatus. In that time, I got married, had a daughter, got divorced, was a single working mom, and met and married my second husband. In 2017, my husband encouraged me to go for my dream and open a bakery, so I did.

What's special about your business?

Sweet Gourmet is dedicated to offering only the highest quality desserts made from real ingredients. But we are not just selling cookies or cakes, we are providing an experience. When you receive a package from Sweet Gourmet, you know you have gotten something special. Our presentation is just as important as our products and our clients deserve nothing less.

What have been the high and low points of being a business owner?

The high point was the first time I was the subject of an article by a regional business newspaper. Getting recognized by a respected publication was a huge accomplishment as an entrepreneur and gave me a sense of pride that continues to push me forward. The hardest, or lowest, part of being a business owner is the feeling of being alone. You tend to bring people in when celebrating but when things go wrong or you are dealing with tough decisions, you are the only one who can make the call. That can be very isolating, even with a supportive circle of friends and family. In addition to my family, SCORE has been a huge support in getting through those moments.

What is your relationship with SCORE? SCORE client How SCORE helped.

My mentor has been a huge supporter and driving force in my business. He has brought in co-mentors to assist with various topics. He encouraged me to go out of my comfort zone and become a presenter, this has given me and my business more credibility as an expert in my field. He has also guided me away from certain ideas that may have derailed my business.

What's great about my mentor?

Amulya has a way of taking you outside of your comfort zone and pushing you along without being aggressive. He is extremely supportive but with a very realistic and logic-based approach. Even when presenting him with an idea he does not agree with he never makes you feel less than.

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

Anyone looking to start a business needs to do their research, plan for as much as they can, network, and get a mentor. Over the last 3 years, I have come across may small businesses and I find when speaking to these owners, the ones who have seen continued growth have 2 similarities, they network and they have mentors.

What have you learned from your experiences as a business owner?

The biggest lesson I have learned as a business owner is its ok to ask for help. Everyone knows starting a business is hard and scary, no one realizes just how hard and scary it is until you are in it. It is so personal, and it can start to take over every minute of your day if you let it. You must let go a little, ask for help when you can and find a balance, so you do not drive yourself and your family crazy.

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My mentors
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Amulya K Garga
I help entrepreneurs with business strategy, business plans, business models, and skills and...
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1165 Herndon Parkway, Suite 100
Herndon, VA 20170
(609) 393-0505

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Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.

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