It Girl | RANDI SMITH
By: Danae Edmonds
The first thing I noticed was confections galore on Sugar Euphoria's Instagram. Hand-painted desserts and beautiful layouts caught my eye and I had to know more. I had the pleasure of visiting Sugar Euphoria and I was so pleased I did! First off, the cases were almost cleaned out so I knew it had to be delicious! One bite and I knew my instincts were correct. Not only were the treats super tasty, but Randi greeted me with a smile and her daughter Finley. The space that she has created felt so warm and welcoming and the rest is basically history. I am so excited to share Randi's story with you!
Name: Randi Smith
Job Title: Owner at Sugar Euphoria
Education: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and University of North Carolina at Charlotte
1. Tell us a little about who you are.
Hi, my name is Randi and I love creating confections that are both delicious and gorgeous! Since 2011, I've had the pleasure of taking people to their happy place with my desserts. You'll love my different combinations of unorthodox flavors, tweaking of old family recipes, and designing elaborate cakes and dessert bars. Born and raised in Nassau, The Bahamas, I now live in Raleigh, NC with my husband, Jeffery and our daughter, Finley. I've deemed myself a hybrid island/country girl. I'm a disciple of Jesus, a lover of sweet tea, and an aspiring yogi. I've recently become obsessed with lipstick, I love everything metallic, and have a ton of chambray blouses in my closet. One of my dreams is to travel the world, although my happy place is on a beach with a minty drink in hand. Oh, and I'm a Tar Heel through and through. I absolutely adore being a part of weddings - I get such joy knowing that my cakes help sweet couples celebrate a life-long commitment to each other.
2. What sparked your interest in starting Sugar Euphoria?
After spending hours binge-watching Cake Boss during the summer after college, I figured that I could create cakes like those guys. I frequently made cupcakes for friends and family members, and wanted to try my hand at specialty cakes.
3. Do you have a favorite flavor combination or profile? My answer to this question always changes! Right now I'm loving our Bahama Mama cupcakes. They're made with vanilla rum cake and mango buttercream. So delicious and reminiscent of the islands. 4. Who are you most influenced by? Career-wise, I'm most influenced by Melody Brandon of Sweet and Saucy Shop and Jenna Rae of Jenna Rae Cakes. I love the way they've created a name for themselves internationally as the place to go for wedding cakes and unique desserts.
My parents are also a huge influence. They've sacrificed so much for me to move the States and I feel like I can never thank them enough.
5. What was your first job and how long did you hold that position?
My first job was working as a social and behavioral research assistant on a study geared toward Women of Color who were HIV positive. I loved that job so much, but only worked on the project for a year between undergraduate and graduate school. 6. Can you share a career defining moment with us?
Between 2014 and 2015 I was renting space in two separate kitchens. The hours were short and I never had enough storage space. I was getting really frustrated and knew that it wasn't an ideal situation. Unfortunately, both of the business closed abruptly and I had little to no notice with a ton of cake orders ahead of me. On a whim, I decided to find my own place to spread out and create in a manner that worked best for me. Luckily, I came across our current space and it completely changed the structure of Sugar Euphoria.
7. What were your initial goals with your work? How have they evolved? Initially, I only wanted to take on specialty orders, primarily wedding cakes. Now, I own and operate a retail bakery where we do everything from grab-and-go treats to elaborate wedding cakes and everything in between. 8. What do you think is the most important life skill you learned frombeing an entrepreneur?
Work-life balance. It was so easy to get completely immersed in getting the business off of the ground, but after having Finley I've figured out how to spend time with my loved ones and run a successful business without burning out.
9. Where do you hope to be in 5 years? I hope to have a larger bakery and coffee shop where people go to hang out, have meetings, and get work done. I love my little space, but we're quickly outgrowing it. 10. What is a typical day like for you? I usually wake up around 7:00 AM to feed Finley, get both of us dressed and eat breakfast. I'm out of the door by 9:30 and headed to the bakery for 10 o'clock. I typically do an inventory check and run errands before getting into the kitchen with the girls or doing administrative work. Oftentimes, I leave the bakery around 4 PM. Once I get home, I fix dinner, feed the baby and get her ready for bed. Then I usually eat dinner on the couch while watching a nature show or Netflix with Jeff. I function best on a good night's rest, so I'm usually in bed by 10 PM.
11. What was the biggest obstacle you’ve faced so far in the processof pursuing your dreams? Since I'm not an American and haven't had a SSN or credit for a while, it has been really tough securing funding. I would love to buy equipment that will help us grow and make some of our processes a little easier, but that stuff is really expensive. It would be great to move into a bigger space, too. Obstacles are meant to be conquered, so I'm actively seeking a solution. 12. What is the best piece of advice you have received? Create a business plan and a budget. As a creative, I want to wholly immerse myself in all of the pretty details and I tend to neglect the other important things, like finances. After a few hurdles, I realized that it is really important to balance both aspects of running a creative business. Also, having a business plan and a mission will help you create a sturdy foundation for your business. You can build and expand on it, but it's so important to stay true to your core.
13. When do you get your best ideas? They come at random times. Sometimes it's a conversation with Jeff or my friends and other times it's from flipping through a fashion magazine. 14. Can you share with us one time that you failed and what youlearned from that failure? Whew! The first few years of business were HARD. So many unplanned expenses, especially with owning a storefront. I hadn't budgeted well and I was in way over my head. I thought I was going to have to close up shop, but with the help of my parents and great financial advice, I was able to turn things around, which is why I think it is so important to keep a close eye on your expenses and revenue.
15. How do you unwind? I'm most relaxed when I'm hanging out with my family. I love talking and laughing with them around the kitchen table. It's the best way for me to relieve stress. 16. What would you tell someone else who wants to start their own business? Create a business plan and a budget! Seriously, I can't say this enough. And don't be afraid to follow your passion.
17. What do you hope people take away from your story? It's ok to change paths in life. I went from pursuing two degrees in Public Health and working in HIV to owning a bakery and I couldn't be happier!