Keeping up with Cakes by Jane

Cake boss: A sunny disposition, lots of texting (to keep up with the teenagers), and a passion for decorating make a fine mix for Melissa Kreidler of Cakes by Jane.

Melissa Kreidler is a delight. When I sat down with her to talk about her business needs for the coming holiday season, she had me laughing straight away. She said her friends often ask her if she watches Cake Boss, and although she likes the idea of sitting down to watch the show, she doesn’t have time for such luxuries because she is her own “cake boss.”

Picking up and running with the legendary Asheville-based Cakes by Jane business (after founder Jane Tomlinson passed away in 2003) has been a full-time job for Kreidler, the mother of three. But she appears to be managing it all with grace, laughter — and her smartphone, which comes in handy while keeping up with teenagers.

How did you get into the cake decorating business?
About 10 years ago, a dear friend asked if I would go along to a cake decorating class with her. At first I was hesitant, but then I thought how wonderful it would be to make my three kids spectacular birthday cakes. This, coupled with a little arm twisting by my friend, pushed me to go along. By the end of the class, I received the “most well-decorated cake” award. I knew I’d found my passion. Cake decorating allows me to use my creativity.

How has Cakes by Jane changed since you took over in 2003?
While keeping up with the established mail-order business, I have added new flavors of regular cake and pound cake, but the greatest change has been in the expansion of our wedding cakes and custom designed cakes.

How do you balance being a mom and running a successful business?
The main thing is to keep the lines of communication open with the kids throughout the day. I always check in to see how their day is going and to find out what is going on at school. It’s important to keep up with them on their level, so I do a lot of texting. Even before I took over the business, I made it a priority to always, always sit down at the table together for dinner.  There are little chats you have with the kids in the car, but the real communication happens when everyone is eye-to-eye at the end of the day. Depending on how many cakes I have to make, dinner might be a little late, but having a meal with my fiancé and kids is the best part of my day.

Where would you like to see the business in the next two years?
Ideally, I would love to have a storefront in a more centralized location. I’m thankful for where I’ve been, but in order to keep up with the Asheville tradition I need to be more visible and accessible.

To order holiday cakes for friends, family or clients, visit www.cakesbyjane.com or call 888-834-9981. Out-of-state shipping is available.

Jennie Ramsey is the loan administrative assistant at Mountain BizWorks. For more information about small business loans from Mountain BizWorks, contact Jennie at 253-2834, ext. 11, or jennie@mountainbizworks.org. Learn more at mountainbizworks.org/lending.

Mountain BizWorks supports small businesses in Western North Carolina through lending, consulting and training. For more information, visit mountainbizworks.org.

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