Erica Tucker, 27

Sweet E’s Bake Shop, Los Angeles

Employees: 20

Financials: “The business is making about $45,000 per month and steadily increasing. The projected annual revenue for 2011 is $650,000. With our recent expansions and ventures, our costs have gone up. So as for now, we are able to cover our expenses.”

What led you to start your own company?

After graduating from the University of Texas with a bachelor’s in fine arts, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting. After two years of working in the industry, I realized that my true passion was for creative baking. With encouragement from friends, family and many satisfied sweet-tooths, I created Sweet E’s.

Where did you get the startup money?

We opted to use our family savings.

What was the biggest challenge?

Once we made the move from an online business to a storefront, truck and custom orders, the biggest challenge was implementing the proper logistics so that all aspects of the business worked in conjunction with each other.

What was the most important lesson you learned?

From this experience, I learned that when it comes to customer service, the answer is always yes. No matter what the customer is asking for, I find a way to make it happen.

How many hours a day do you put in?

I am in the bake shop about 10 hours a day, six days a week. However, my phone and my laptop are always with me. My employees know that I am always available.

Does your youth lead to awkward situations, such as when you supervise older workers?

At a first meeting I often feel underestimated due to my age. After a few minutes of discussion, it is clear that I am a very hard-working professional and my experience far surpasses their expectations.

Will you start another company?

As crazy as it sounds, I have my next idea. I’m already working on the concept of a restaurant with a small savory menu and outrageous decadent desserts.

What do you do to relax?

Yoga. It is the one time that I will ever turn off my phone and clear my mind.

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