For many Wellesley students, college serves as an opportunity to explore new interests and passions. However, this period of exploration is not limited to academics; many choose to undertake new hobbies, extracurricular activities and projects. For some students, one of these endeavors includes starting a small business on campus.
Launched in September, flower + sugar is the name of a bakery business that roommates Isabel Yick ’19 and Taylor DuRoss ’19 initiated in the Dower residence hall. Although neither of them had prior experience running a business, a series of informal baking sessions led them to the idea of forming their own bakery.
“We baked some cakes initially for our friends’ birthdays and quickly realized how it had the potential to bring a lot of happiness to a group of people who may or may not necessarily know us personally,” they said.
Yick and DuRoss ask customers fill out an online form and specify cake and frosting flavors, icing colors and mEessages to include. One of the unique characteristics of flower + sugar is the use of fresh flowers to decorate cakes in addition to toppings and icing.
Yick and DuRoss buy their ingredients in bulk, but also shop on a weekly basis to purchase specific ingredients necessary for customized orders. In order to successfully run their bakery, they must plan ahead and stay organized to maximize their efficiency.
“One of the first things we did was set up a spreadsheet to manage our inventory, cost per cake, expenses, scheduling, suppliers, delivery times, etc,” they said. “We are extremely diligent in cataloging everything we do because we believe that it is so essential to stay organized.”
One of Yick and DuRoss’s favorite aspects of running flower + sugar is that it allows them to use their imagination and an artistic eye.
“We’d have to say that our favorite orders are the open ended ones because it gives us an opportunity to really showcase our creativity,” they said.
Running a bakery business has its challenges, but Yick and DuRoss acknowledged that with each order, they are able to gain more experience that can only help improve the future of their business.
“It can be challenging to manage who can deliver cakes at specific times or pick up special ingredients needed for a particular cake, but that is what distinguishes our business!” they said. “We are proud to be highly customizable, and we always communicate with customers to fulfill requests to the extent of our ability.”
In addition to flower + sugar, Wellesley’s campus is home to other student enterprises, one of which includes a smoothie business, Smoothies by L & P, which was created by Portia Krichman ’19 and Lucy Wanzer ’19.
Based in the Cazenove Hall basement, the business operates through pop-ups; in other words, Krichman and Wanzer announce a particular date and time they will be making smoothies and take orders during that period. This schedule not only allows customers to know when they can pick up their orders, but it also prevents the business from interfering with Krichman and Wanzer’s classes and homework.
“What’s nice about Smoothies by L & P is that it operates on our schedules and we can plan our pop-ups for whenever it works for both of us,” said Krichman.
Like any business venture, Krichman and Wanzer spent weeks planning for the launch of their enterprise on Nov. 1. Much of this time was spent testing smoothie recipes and designing a menu. Some of their menu items include Mint for Each Other (mint, spinach, banana, oats, cocoa powder and coconut milk) and the Cold Buster 3000, which contains fruits rich in antioxidants as well as ginger and turmeric. They also offer additional toppings, including coconut flakes, goji berries or blackberries for an additional 50 cents each.
“We wanted to come up with a set of three to four smoothies that people could choose from and allow everyone to individually craft their smoothie based on their tastes,” said Krichman. “People can always create their own smoothie from the ingredients we have, but no one has decided to do that yet.”
What distinguishes Smoothies by L & P from other local businesses is the origin of many of their ingredients, which are purchased off campus from a farmer’s market in Boston. Krichman and Wanzer also use Stop & Shop and Amazon.com to buy ingredients in bulk for a relatively low price.
In addition to purchasing ingredients to make smoothies, the two business owners had to consider whether they would give out cups, straws and lids or require customers to provide their own cups. Krichman and Wanzer compromised by purchasing cups for their customers but also offering a 50 cent discount to those who provided their own cups. Not only does this tactic save money, but it also promotes sustainability if students bring reusable cups.
According to Krichman and Wanzer, starting a business on campus and getting to know students has been one of the most fulfilling aspects of establishing Smoothies by L & P.
“One of the most concrete rewards of running Smoothies by L & P is seeing how much of a demand there is for smoothies on Wellesley’s campus, even in November!” said Wanzer. “It’s nice to be given feedback – good or bad – on the smoothies, but so far the feedback has been better than we could have ever expected. There are very few, if any – we haven’t found any yet – places around town where you can get a smoothie for $4.50 and we wanted to provide an accessible service for people at Wellesley.”
Regarding advice that these students have for others interested in starting a small business on campus, Yick and DuRoss said, “If you have an idea, just go for it! We are at the perfect point in our lives where we have a huge audience in front of us in the perfect age group where we are willing to try new things. Make sure you stay organized and set up boundaries so business does not conflict too much with personal or academic work. It will be a lot of work initially, but it’s so worth it!”