Several turning points in Cara Jorgensen’s life led to the opening of The Gateau Baking Company, a cake and pasty shop in 7th Street Public Market Uptown.
Jorgensen’s journey started after she finished her associate’s degree at a local community college. Jorgensen, 24, waited tables, but quickly realized she wanted more.
“I reevaluated everything,” she said.
Jorgensen envisioned herself as a baker so she took a job at a local bakery and worked for six to eight months learning the business. In 2015, Jorgensen moved to FuManChu Bakery, a place with a creative and supportive environment.
While at FuManChu, Jorgensen baked for friends and family on the side, and her reputation as a quality baker grew. She decided to go out on her own, doing pop-ups and farmers markets.
Even then, Jorgensen knew she had to do more to make it a sustainable business.
“I decided I wanted to dive all the way into it,” she said.
Jorgensen was a week away from purchasing a food truck for a mobile bakery when Center City Partners called her to discuss a spot at the 7th Street Public Market. In November, she’ll celebrate one year at the Uptown location.
The Gateau Baking Co. sells cookies, cupcakes, brownies, donuts and cinnamon rolls for $2-$5 each. It has several sizes of cake for $38-$68 and seasonal pies for $23.
Jorgensen answered CharlotteFive’s questions for the Small Business Series:
What does a typical day look like for you?
“It depends on the day. Every day, I wake up and go to the shop at 7 a.m. I’m usually there until 12:30 or 1 p.m., depending on the prep needed.
“Then, of course, there are emails to do. I am grabbing orders, running for ingredients, placing an order for future ingredients or cleaning. I finish at 4 or 5, but still have to answer emails. It’s a lot of communicating with customers individually.”
Where did the name for the bakery come from?
“It means ‘cake’ in French.
“I’m not in love with it (the name), but I figured if I’m going to start this at such a young age — as a young woman, no one takes me seriously as it is — I need to create a name that when you see it on a website, or when you see it on a logo and you hear it, it intrigues you. It also sounds sophisticated.”
What are your goals for your bakery?
“I want to own three bakeries by the time I’m 30. The ultimate goal is to get all the bakeries self-sustaining and get me on to the next adventure.”
What should small business owners be thinking about?
“When I first opened, I had this idea that I’m going to open a bakery, and all I’m going to do is bake all the time and it’s going to be so awesome.
“I think when you open up a business, it’s not a hobby anymore. It’s good to keep in mind that it’s 10 percent of what you actually want to do and the rest is everyone else telling you what to do. I don’t think you’re ever your own boss.”
With whom would you like to have coffee?
“Christina Tosi, owner of Momofuku Milk Bar. She’s so cool and you don’t see a lot of women in this industry making a splash.”
The Gateau Baking Company, 224 East 7th St.
Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday
Photos: JC Photography of Discover Indian Land, The Gateau Baking Company
Family history and my own fascination with people and their motivations prompted me to begin this series about Charlotte’s small business owners. Industry, situation and questions will vary. Have a suggestion for a small business owner or entrepreneur to interview? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Small Business Series.”