This months Courageous Entrepreneur is Ebony Phelps. Ebony is the creator and owner of Custom Styles Sweet Boutique, where she makes the most beautifully delicious cookies. I’ve known Ebony since the 9th grade. We went to high school and college together and she is just as kind and sweet as her tasty cookies are!
I had the pleasure of tasting Ebony’s cookies a few years ago for my 30th birthday celebration. The design was perfect and a true reflection of my style and personality: handbag cookies, shoe cookies, lipstick cookies and cookies in the shape of a black girl with an amazing Afro! Isn’t that awesome? Oh, and in case you’re wondering, her cookies don’t just look good, they taste good too! Continue reading to learn more about Ebony and her business, Custom Styles Sweet Boutique.
1. Briefly tell us about yourself and your business.
My name is Ebony. I graduated from NC A&T State University in 2006 (Aggie Pride). I am 33 years old and I just recently married my best friend in life this past December. I have a five-year-old little boy named Ethan and expecting another little boy this April. I’m a Respiratory Therapist by trade. My business is Custom Styles Sweet Boutique, which specializes in custom decorated cookies.
2. What made you decide to be an entrepreneur?
After ‘discovering’ my talent and love for baking and decorating cookies, and with much encouragement from my family and friends, I decided to sell them.
3. What made you decide to venture into this particular field (fashion, food, photography, etc.)? Is this field your passion?
My business was born after my son’s first birthday party. I have always been extremely crafty and creative. I setup a small Elmo themed dessert table for his party, afterwards I was asked to setup for family members. I wanted custom cookies to enhance the tables, and couldn’t find any locally. So I got on YouTube and decided I would try and make them myself. I fell in love instantly.
4. In what ways has courage played a role in you starting your business?
Putting your time, love, and all into something and then offering it to the ‘world’ takes courage. Without courage and faith I would have never been able to start.
5. What have been some challenges for you on your entrepreneurial journey?
My main challenge has been operating as a small business and not a hobby. There is a big difference. Overworking, overbooking, and underpaying yourself, can lead to loss of passion and becoming burned out.
6. How did you overcome?
I had to take breaks, and seek advice and wisdom from other successful entrepreneurs; I listened to podcasts on running a small business, and read lots of books. I’m still learning and overcoming.
7. What and/or who inspired you to become a business owner?
My son is my inspiration.
8. What advice (5 tips) do you have for anyone thinking of starting his or her own business?
a. Work ethic and integrity, wins over talent every time.
b. Take the time to learn how to properly run a small business. If you aren’t making a profit for your time and effort, you don’t have a business you have a hobby.
c. Don’t compare yourself to others.
d. It’s okay to say no. Saying no is better than disappointing a customer.
e. Help others and share information. I promise there is enough business for everyone. Your only competition is who you were yesterday.
9. In what ways has networking helped your business?
Networking is vital for my business. I have met some amazing entrepreneurs in my local market, which has led to more business and newfound friendships.
10. What resources (local in your community and/or outside of your community) have you found to be helpful for you as a business owner?
Often, I look through local papers for upcoming events and vendor opportunities.
11. Where do you see your business in the next 5 years?
I would like to offer several different flavored cookies and cookie cakes in the near future. I’d also like to hire a small staff to increase the amount of volume I’m able to take. Right now my husband is my business partner. I don’t know where Custom Styles Sweet Boutique would be without him. I expect continued growth in the next five years, God willing.
12. Where can people contact you for business inquires?
I can be contacted via (email) at CustomStyles.firstname.lastname@example.org or (text)336-740-4155. My website will be launching soon.
13. Where can we find you on social media?
Facebook: CustomStyles Sweet Boutique
Be sure to support Ebony by following her business, Custom Styles Sweet Boutique, on social media. Also, consider placing an order from her when preparing for your next event. You won’t regret it!