MEET AUTHORESS EVELYN JACKSON: As co-owner and marketing manager of Pastry Divas, Authoress Evelyn Jackson has sold over three hundred cakes, four thousand cupcakes and donated over three thousands cupcakes to various organizations since launching her business in February 2010. Evelyn transformed Pastry Divas into a success story, earning over $40,000 in revenue in less than a year. Evelyn then started D.S.B.G. in March 2010, which helps micro-small businesses with little to no money. D.S.B.G. has been featured in various media and has been invited to become a member of several professional organizations. Most recently, Evelyn has pinned the marketing how-to, The Divalyn Pleasure Guide to Marketing Your Micro-Small Business which you can find at her website: http://www.dsbg4u.com
WMI: You own four businesses: Diva-Lyn Guides Publishing Company, Pastry Divas, D.S.B.G. and Evelyn’s Excitable Energizers. On top of that, you’re a novelist. How do you balance the various business ventures that you own and still manage to find time for yourself?
EJ: I’m very conscious of time management. I believe you can’t get time back, so I use it wisely. I benefited from having the right technology to manage and grow my business. For example, I can work on my iPad, iPhone or laptop while I’m in my car. I reduce voicemails by leaving a message on my answering machine that alerts callers to the fact that I will contact them faster if they text me. Texting has given me back so many hours because I no longer have to retrieve twenty or more voicemails a day. You have to be very creative if you want a life of your own. By the time I’m finished for the day, I’ve answered most questions via technology.
WMI: Are you the first person in your family to own and operate a business? If not, tell us about two to three of your relatives who owned and managed companies?
EJ: Yes, I’m the first. I’m showing my daughter and other family members how to own businesses.
WMI: Where did you get your initial financial investment to launch your first business? Also, what was the initial financial investment you put into that first company?
EJ: I actually started two of my companies at the same time, which were Pastry Divas and D.S.B.G. I didn’t have money in the bank because I lost my corporate job of 15 years after a tractor trailer accident left me bedridden for two years. I was selling Avon products part-time and decided, “If I worked at this hard enough, my commission checks could buy my supplies and everything I needed to start my business.” I had limited funds, so my business was built slow and steady.
WMI: Tell us about the process of starting your very first company (e.g. building a team, designing a business plan, taking company from idea/concept to material form).
EJ: Actually Avon was the first company I worked for, but I knew it wasn’t my company, so I decided to build a strong team within Avon, a team that would allow me to pay for the supplies to operate my own company using Avon commission checks. Pastry Divas was formed because my daughter baked cakes. She came to me one day and said, “Mom, I’m only good at cakes. Can you help me start my own business?” I told her if she took baking seriously, I’d market her cakes. That’s how Pastry Divas and D.S.B.G. (Diva-lyn Small Business Guru) began. My daughter and I are business partners. She bakes; I do all the marketing.
WMI: What was the greatest challenge you faced as you put on the helmet of business owner?
EJ: We had no family support and we have a fairly large family. My daughter is the only child, and I’m a single mother. We have a very tight bond, which helped us when it got tough. Sometimes, I had to mail out ten books, work with a new client, deliver products and make four hundred cupcakes and watch my daughter’s three children all in the same weekend. My daughter and I shared tears together; it was hard. We would be up until four in the morning and sometimes we didn’t sleep all day. We prayed about it and God got us through. The days she cried I became her strength and the days I cried she became my strength. . . . I remember those days.
WMI: Did you go to culinary school to learn how to decorate cakes? If not, where and how did you learn your cake decorating skill?
EJ: I don’t do any of the baking. My daughter was declined from the Art Institute because she wasn’t married and had three kids. The Art Institute told her she had too many responsibilities and wouldn’t be able to handle the class work. So after crying for two weeks from rejection, I told my daughter life goes on, so get it together and let’s change our lives. She took classes at Michael’s arts and craft store and she practiced, practiced, practiced. My daughter used to bake with my mother, so that’s how she learned the basics. Sometimes practicing and working with your hands is better than learning from books.
WMI: Are there any plans to open a brick and mortar bakery? Also, how can people contact you to place pastry and cake decorating orders?
EJ: We are planning to buy a couple of trucks to ride around neighborhoods like the ice cream man. We noticed a lot of bakeries are closing fast; I believe location plays an important part. We don’t want to worry about that for now. We do believe somewhere in the near future we might have a brick and mortar store. Only God knows! Sometimes we try to go in one direction and God takes us another. People wishing to place orders with us can do so at http://www.pastrydivas.net. We accept orders for any occasion. We are a unique company adding a personal touch to all orders; we love being different.
WMI: Give us the titles of your books. Please also provide a brief synopsis for your books, including letting us know if your books are fiction or nonfiction.
EJ: My first book is titled Diva-lyn Pleasure Guide to Marketing Your Micro-Small Business. I created the book for micro-small business owners (2 or less owners) to help them understand that marketing is very important for their business growth and to show them cheap, fast and doable marketing tips. I get lots of feedback on the book. My other book is titled Diva-lyn Guide for the Broke, Tired and Unique Micro-Small Business. I wrote this book after I started receiving a lot of phone calls for help from small business owners. The book helps entrepreneurs learn how to start a business as well as discover what’s keeping them from moving forward and enjoying more success. We business owners don’t have a lot of time. For that reason, both books are quick non-fiction reads. Additionally, at the present time I’m working on my third book.
WMI: What specific types of marketing services to you provide clients and who are these services targeted toward?
EJ: I work for clients, small business owners, who are struggling, small business owners who are experiencing cash flow shortages, people who can benefit from working with someone who understands how hard it is to manage a small business. I started marketing for cheap after I reached out to a marketing business and was told I’d have to pay $300 an hour for their services. After researching the market I realized that small businesses have no way of succeeding if marketing prices don’t change. Therefore, I came up with the Twenty-Five Dollar Plan. It’s been a huge success, because most people can afford to pay for marketing services at a rate of $25. My number one service, a service that’s very popular on the Internet, involves my Beast Camps. I provide extensive only training to small business owners who purchase the service.
WMI: In what specific ways has writing and publishing a book helped your various businesses?
EJ: My books have helped D.S.B.G. tremendously. I get book orders daily because I keep the prices affordable. Since Pastry Divas and my other companies are so successful, everyone wants to read about the companies, which they do by ordering the books. I haven’t had to push my books at all. My first book sold over seven hundred copies within seven months without my having to do a single book signing. I love reading and writing so look for a whole series of the Diva-lyn Guides.
WMI: What three to four key (and effective) online and offline marketing strategies do you use to spread the word about your companies?
EJ: I use Social media (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) for all my social media marketing. Facebook has given me a new look on life. I never thought that social media could be successful. If you use social media networks correctly your business can become a great success. I also use postcards and go to lots of networking events. I pass out five hundred postcards a month to expand my reach. This works for me because I’m very creative. Pastry Divas also donates to various large organizations a year. We believe the more you give, the more you get back.
WMI: Do you offer discounts or special services to writers, entertainers and other creative artists? If so, what type of discounts or specials do you offer?
EJ: Yes. We offer discounts to schools and churches all the time. I’ve donated books to organizations all over the country, and Pastry Divas regularly donates cupcakes to large organizations. We’ve worked with high schools and organizations such as Career Wardrobe, Uniquely U Summit, Villanova University and several non-profit organizations.
WMI: How do you keep yourself motivated as an entrepreneur when sales are sluggish?
EJ: When sales are slow, I work twice as hard. If I already gave out five hundred postcards, then I give out another five hundred postcards. I don’t let myself get down. When business is slow, I work social media that much more to generate sales. Sales are rarely sluggish because I market the business to the bones. I believe it’s a numbers game when it comes to growing your business. The more information you put out about your business the more you get back. The most important thing is to never ever slow down.
WMI: What have you learned about yourself and the business world that you didn’t know before you launched a business?
EJ: I learned to love myself more. It’s strange, because when I worked for the corporate world I was always sad and depressed. Working for myself taught me a new love. I love my businesses and it shows. I give my businesses my all and I don’t let anyone change my attitude. I learned that I can be happier helping others and not worrying about myself. I love what I do and people say it shows. When you love yourself, you will do anything to make yourself happy even if it means quitting your JOB (Journey of the Broke) and starting your own business.
WMI: What’s next for Authoress Evelyn Jackson? Where do you see yourself and your companies two to three years from now?
EJ: It worries me that our young people are losing the battle with small businesses. They need help from the small business owners who made it. Therefore, I want to start workshops for the younger generation to show them that having their own business is the only way to go. After having three grandkids (8, 5, and 4) I realize somebody needs to help them see that they can be successful and live a wonderful life. So watch out for my upcoming workshops to help our young people grow up with better lives and thriving businesses. They don’t call me the Marketing BEAST for nothing on Facebook.
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