Netflix ‘Is it Cake’ contestant Justin Ellen makes 6-figures in small business

When Justin Ellen received a “random” direct message on Instagram asking if he would like to be section of a Netflix exhibit referred to as “Is It Cake?” — he thought it was “really sketchy.”

It was only when they reported there was an job interview that he recognized, “Okay, it’s legit,” reported the youngest contestant of the preferred baking show.

After a Zoom interview and a thirty day period of ready, Ellen — who was 18 at that time — was picked to take part.

It was extremely overpowering, he admitted.

“Since I was tremendous youthful … and I recognized I had to fly and continue to be in a resort by myself. Filming was a full month. I have never been away from my household for that long,” he instructed CNBC Make It.

Ellen even experienced to skip his higher school graduation for the show’s recording.

“Is It Cake?” is a baking contest, wherever cake artists produce edible replicas of day to day objects — such as sneakers and purses.

At very first glance, the 19-calendar year-aged did not look to have as a great deal encounter as the other contestants. The youthful baker only began developing hyper-practical cakes two many years back. 1 of his opponents started baking even just before Ellen was born.

Still, prior to appearing on Netflix, he was currently managing his have successful cake business, All the things Just Baked.

I recognized that I didn’t have to imagine modest. You will find so significantly you could do in the discipline … consider about each and every lane you could go into.

Justin Ellen

Owner, Every little thing Just Baked

“Past yr, we grossed $100,000 in profits,” reported Ellen, who is from New Jersey.

“With [the] Netflix [show] coming out, I’ve been acquiring like a good deal more inquiries … my calendar is flooded. I’m tremendous grateful for it.”

Tricky get the job done and failure

Ellen figured out how to bake from his mother and grandmother when he was just 7 many years aged. They employed to bake together all through holiday seasons like Thanksgiving.

From breads, to pies and cookies, they baked every little thing — but strangely, “never cakes.”

Justin Ellen started off baking with his mum considering that he was 7 several years old.

Justin Ellen

But he speedily outgrew remaining an assistant and when he was 14, went down the rabbit hole of cake tutorial movies on YouTube and acquired inspired to start off his individual creations.

“I just watched films of other individuals executing it, YouTube’s a good issue. You just obtained to definitely practice and take the time to study,” he explained to CNBC Make It.

“I’ve unsuccessful a whole lot of times … I will feel it can be these types of an uncomplicated cake and then everything’s heading improper.”

Nevertheless, Ellen was undeterred. He was in high school when he commenced immersing himself into baking — which was “definitely hard” because he did not have a whole lot of cost-free time on his hands. He recalls using part in a baking competition and obtaining to university at 5 a.m. to apply.

“I was tremendous fast paced. [But] if you might be actually established, you can expect to discover the time,” said Ellen.

Knowing your worthy of

The most significant problem Ellen faced as a young entrepreneur was understanding his truly worth — he was pricing his cakes like he was searching with his own wallet.

“Back again then, I did not know how beneficial my artwork is. I questioned my mom and my mom’s just like me, she’s low-priced. Like, ‘I’m not heading to get a $100 cake.’ But currently, individuals are conveniently paying out that.”

In the early times of the company, Justin Ellen was providing a 6-inch cake for $60, but now it really is “conveniently $150 for the exact dimensions.”

Justin Ellen

When he to start with started, he was selling a six-inch cake for $60, but now it is “effortlessly $150 for the similar size.”  

From January this 12 months, he started earning up to $12,000 a thirty day period after jogging his business total-time.

Art is super beneficial and folks will pay for it. Actually, my price tag slightly goes up every working day … relying on my temper.

Justin Ellen

Owner, Every little thing Just Baked

“I recognized people today are purchasing designer purses for hundreds of bucks. You have acquired to make your clients understand the really worth in your manufacturer and what you happen to be furnishing them simply because the cake tastes wonderful and [I] use significant-top quality ingredients.”

Even while the costs of his cakes have a lot more than doubled in cost in excess of the a long time, that has not stopped him from creating a “quite rewarding company.”

“Art is tremendous valuable and people today will spend for it. Actually, my cost a little bit goes up each working day … relying on my temper,” he stated.

And if a purchaser asks why his cakes fees this considerably? “I will just be straightforward and say, every day I development in my talent, so the price tag has to go up. You might be having to pay for someone’s expertise … it took me 5 several years to discover how to do that.”

No stopping now

Dreaming significant has absolutely paid out off for Ellen. What he envisioned for himself arrived accurate — he now sells cake mixes and baking instruments on-line. Often, he retains lessons for aspiring bakers much too.

Ellen included that he accepts close to 6 orders a week and they are “bigger orders now.” On a regular working day, he would be up at 8am, performing on his orders in his house kitchen area single-handedly.

“Actually, most of my consumers do not select hyper-reasonable cakes, they’re much more like marriage ceremony cakes.”

His dad and mom are now “undoubtedly confident” that he has made the right selection to pursue baking as a career — in point, Ellen, who started off as an assistant in the kitchen, is now the boss.

“My mum performs for me now,” he claimed gleefully. “She can help me a great deal with the backend stuff … like deliveries.”

Even as he marvels at what he has been in a position to carry out at just 19 many years outdated, the young entrepreneur is not done dreaming.

It really is heading to choose a lot of time. But in the conclude, you can notice it truly is completely well worth it.

Justin Ellen

Operator, Every little thing Just Baked

“Non-prevent, I’m thinking about my company and new ways to elevate it. I want to have an appointment-based studio … but my remaining objective is to be like Wilton, the cake decorating enterprise.”

Headquartered in Illinois, Wilton produces a vast selection of bakeware, decorations, baking instruments and elements that are well known amid bakers.

“My objective is to be just like that … [Everything Just Baked] is minority-owned, black-owned and I consider we need illustration mainly because you can find like no big minority brands in the baking neighborhood.”

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