Over the last 20 years, the methods of building a business have changed dramatically. The rise of the internet and social media has meant companies large and small have had to adapt and sell based on more than just the quality of their products. Questions come up like: Is the item meme-worthy? Can you make a gif while using it? Is the product the right shade of millennial pink? Is this the right ad to put on Facebook or Instagram?
To learn how to sell in this new tech-savvy landscape, some flock back to classrooms determined to gain the marketing tools and knowledge for their businesses to stay afloat. Others, like self-proclaimed “#CheesecakeQueen” Cayla Jordan, take a different approach. With the right research, strategy and personal experience through trial and error, Jordan’s success has turned out to be a piece of cake—cheesecake, that is.
You might recognize Jordan’s name around Sacramento; she’s been popping up everywhere: Instagram, YouTube, 106.5 The End’s Wake Up Call, collaborations with popular blogs like The People of Sacramento, pop-up shops and guest features on ABC10 and Good Day Sacramento. Jordan has built a buzz about her cheesecakes almost entirely on her own. All this has led up to her current venture, Creamy’s by Cayla Jordan, a pop-up shop in the Arden Fair Mall, just in time for the holiday season.
“This shop means so much to me. It’s my baby,” says Jordan with a candid smile. “My other pop-up shops were kind of like practice compared to this. As opposed to preparing for a one-day shop a week in advance, with this I’m open everyday and baking any time I’m not opened.”
Jordan’s holiday pop-up shop welcomes visitors with a sign lit in gold. It’s been open since November 20, and will continue to serve sweet teeth until New Year’s Eve. Shoppers can buy cheesecakes full-sized, miniaturized, sandwiched between cookies and more. Creamy’s offers flavors like caramel pecan, chocolate chip cookie dough, chocolate, peppermint bark and coffee.
Jordan’s popularity has grown since the shop’s opening, a fact that forced her to have to close early one day after selling out of product. She closed the store midday to go and bake more, but don’t worry, Jordan isn’t trying to do everything on her own. Her help and assistance comes from those she trusts, like her mom.
“I learned everything from my mom, and baking is still something her and I share,“ Jordan explains when discussing how her role has reversed from student to teacher.
As for Jordan’s story, she’s been baking since she was a young girl and started selling caramel corn in high school, making as much as $30-a-day.
“I know you might want an in-depth story, but long story short, I turned my passion into my business,” says Jordan.
“Instead of selling drugs illegally, I was selling caramel corn.”
Inspired by the success of selling her sweets in school, she decided to pursue bigger goals. She then sold her caramel corn in grocery stores such as Nugget and Raley’s. This was a huge step for her business endeavors, though while considering wholesale of her products, she decided to end her collaboration with the markets.
“The wholesale route was kind of boring,” says Jordan. “They wanted me to have a certain look, certain packaging, use different ingredients and do things by a certain method. I wanted to make my product how I wanted to, and make it higher end. I wanted my creations to sustain their quality taste without watering down the product.”
After that it was back to the drawing board. Jordan decided to not only sell her products to customers directly, but to focus on cheesecakes as her staple. With cheesecakes, she could be creative with different flavors that she couldn’t explore with caramel corn.
Through trial-and-error, Jordan rebranded her entire business model from scratch. When it came to marketing and advertising her new brand, she found that the marketing classes she was taking at Sacramento City College didn’t give her the real information she wanted.
“I found the material in my classes were out-of-date, especially since I was already running my own business at the time and learned more through YouTube and online research,” says Jordan.
Though she created an online store in 2010, she realized not many visitors were coming to her site because it wasn’t advertised at all. She was determined to gain a following.
“I knew I had to push my product out there or no one was going to notice me,” says Jordan. “I even put out videos and worked on my Instagram for a year before advertising again.”
By doing that, and being willing to give out her product for free at first, Jordan was able to make a name for herself that is still growing in the Sacramento area.
While asking for help in shooting videos and writing for her website, Jordan sometimes paid people to teach her skills like editing film and photography. She says that it is crucial for a CEO to know how to take the reins on a project when something unexpected happens or goes wrong.
Along with being a fast learner, Jordan keeps people focused on her product, staying on her sites as long as possible. Jordan does this by uploading videos to her YouTube channel that show the process of a recipe rather than the recipe itself. That way, viewers will either have to contact her or go to her website.
Accompanying her brilliant social media presence, Jordan has also created a cookbook eBook, #CHEESECAKEQUEEN, with all the photos and content produced by herself. Jordan has also created an app called BAKEMOJI for enthusiastic bakers looking for emojis that appeal to people’s sweet side.
“I’m underestimated all the time. But I brush it off and keep going,” says Jordan when asked if she’s ever been underestimated. She keeps it professional by showing that the proof of her talent is in her baking.
Jordan is a force to be reckoned with through not only her marketing smarts, but in her talent for creating delicious desserts. Right now, there is no stopping her.
Without giving anything away, Jordan told Submerge that she definitely has more small projects in the works. We’ll just have to stay tuned to her channels to find out.
Make sure to head to Cayla’s seasonal pop-up shop and meet the #CheesecakeQueen herself. Business hours are 10 a.m.—9 p.m. Nov. 20—Dec. 31, 2017. For further details, visit Caylajordan.com.
**This article first appeared in print on pages 20 – 21 of issue #255 (Dec. 18, 2017 – Jan. 1, 2018)**