Justin Ellen found himself at a difficult crossroads when he was 17 – should he pursue his passion for baking full-time or go to school to further his education?
At the time, the youngest contestant on the favored Netflix baking show was making custom-made cakes at home as a side job while juggling school.
He brought home no less than $5,000 a month, but couldn’t help but compare himself to his peers.
“What got me down was that I used to be hanging out with all my friends [apply for colleges]”.
Still, the young celebrity baker stuck to his guns, believing that “everyone has their very own path.”
Just two years later, full-time entrepreneur and confectioner owner Everything Just Baked is earning over $100,000 a yr – and he isn’t turning back.
In March this yr, he made his debut within the Netflix series “Is It Cake?” — a baking competition where pastry chefs create edible replicas of on a regular basis items similar to bowling pins and sewing machines.
The show, which premiered on the streaming service on March 18, was in Top 10 most viewed charts within the US for 4 weeks. It also garnered over 100 million hours of views from around the globe.
But the road to success isn’t without failures, Ellen tells CNBC Make It. Pure exertions and the clever words of family members also helped him on this.
Ellen knew from the beginning that a social media presence could be critical in constructing his business. But it took numerous practice—and courage—to make yourself known.
“At first my social media wasn’t great… not great photos, they were very blurry. But as I progressed, I noticed they needed to be super clean.”
Ellen also noticed that Instagram was “really pushing” video content onto the platform, and that is when she decided to show the camera on herself, sharing bits of her life as a young baker.
“I used to be definitely shy at first since it was just awkward for me … however the more you do it, it’s like, well, and truthfully no person cares in case your hair is slightly frizzy today,” he said.
“Honestly, it makes you more identifiable. People want to fulfill the person behind the brand, and in the event that they such as you, they’ll need to spend money with you.”
Still, Ellen said posting on social media was something he “didn’t take seriously” at first.
“I used to be just posting for fun. At last [through] word of mouth…people kept asking, “Can I order a cake?”
Ellen also slowly built up a following and clientele, baking at any time when she got the prospect, even when it was a family event.
“It doesn’t even should be an enormous cake… just make something small because you do not know who’s going to be there. Someone will eat it and ask, ‘Who made this cake? “
Before he knew it, he had over 50,000 followers on Instagram and was earning between $5,000 and $9,000 a month in highschool.
“I noticed, wow, this might be a serious thing.”
After seeing his side hustle take off in highschool, Ellen began to take into consideration a profession in baking. But not everyone accepted it.
“My dad was a baker? I believe it has a connotation [with baking] like, “Oh, you do not make numerous money” or “You should work so much,” he said.
But Ellen had greater plans for herself.
“I noticed I didn’t should think small. There are so many things you possibly can do in the sector… consider every lane you possibly can get into.”
“I checked out other bakers who’ve built their business – they’ve product lines that I had no idea was something you possibly can even do.”
It was around this time that Ellen, like his friends around him, needed to take into consideration what to do after highschool.
“Probably around freshman yr when everyone seems to be in search of colleges… I used to be wondering [about] go to culinary school. [But] I noticed it wasn’t for me,” he said.
“I just felt it wasn’t price it and it cost numerous money. And you possibly can’t really teach an art in a way, it’s really just practice – and the more you practice, the better it gets.”
This was a pivotal moment for Ellen, who realized she wasn’t only a highschool baker anymore.
“[I’m an] first an entrepreneur, then a baker. If you wish to be a baker, go work for another person.”
Social media can have been “completely free” as a form of selling, but Ellen needed help with seed money to get her business began.
“At first, I used to be selling cookies that I shipped… I asked my parents for $500 to purchase boxes and other supplies.”
He said that was the primary and last time he asked his parents for money for his business.
Although his parents had doubts about his business at first, Ellen attributes his success to their clever words: Always reinvest what you’ve got earned.
“I used to be capable of reinvest that cash [I got from] people buying, back to my business. I didn’t go buy Jordans,” he said with fun, referring to the favored Nike Air Jordan shoes that may cost no less than $200.
Ellen said this mindset was instilled in him by his parents, who run their very own real estate business.