Justin Ellen, Netflix’s “Is it Cake” competitor, earns 6 figures in business E! UK News

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When Justin Ellen got a “random” direct message. on Instagram asking him if he’d like to be a part of a Netflix show called “Is It Cake?” He – he thought it was “very inaccurate”.

It wasn’t until they said there was an interview that he did, “OK, that’s legit,” said the youngest contestant from the popular pastry show.

After an interview on Zoom and a month of waiting, Ellen – who was 18 at the time – was chosen to participate.

It was very overwhelming, he admitted.

“Because I was very young … and I realized I had to get on a plane and be alone in a hotel. The shooting lasted a whole month. I have never been away from my family for so long,” he told CNBC Make It.

Ellen even had to skip high school graduation to experience the show firsthand.

“Is that a piece of cake?” is a pastry contest, in which pastry artists create edible replicas of everyday objects, such as sneakers and bags.

At first glance, the 19-year-old didn’t seem to have the same experience as the other competitors. The young baker started making hyper-realistic cakes just two years ago. One of his opponents started cooking before Ellen was even born.

Yet, before appearing on Netflix, he was already running his successful cake business, Everything Just Baked.

I realized I didn’t have to think small. There are so many things you could do in the field … think about every path you could take.

Justin Elena

Owner, freshly cooked

“We made $ 100,000 last year,” said Ellen, a native of New Jersey.

“With [the] netflix [show] going out, I have a lot more requests … my calendar is flooded. I am super grateful for that.

Hard work and failure

Ellen learned to cook with her mother and grandmother when he was only 7 years old. They cooked together on holidays such as Thanksgiving.

From bread to cakes and biscuits, they baked everything, but strangely “never cakes”.

Justin Ellen started cooking with his mother when he was 7 years old.

Justin Elena

But he soon grew beyond the assistant stage and at the age of 14 he went down the rabbit hole of the cake tutorial videos on YouTube and was inspired to launch his own creations.

“I just watched videos of other people doing that, YouTube is a good thing. You really have to practice and take the time to learn,” he told CNBC Make It.

“I’ve failed many times … I think it’s such an easy cake and then everything will go wrong.”

However, Ellen was undeterred. She was in high school when she started dabbling in pastry, which was “really hard” because she didn’t have much free time. She remembers taking part in a pastry contest and going to school at 5am to practice.

“I was super busy. [But] if you are really determined, you will find the time, ”Ellen said.

Know its worth

The biggest challenge Ellen faced as a young entrepreneur was knowing her worth – she valued her cakes as if she were shopping with her own wallet.

“At the time, I didn’t realize how precious my art was. I asked my mom and my mom is like me, she is not expensive. Like “I’m not getting a $ 100 cake”. But today people easily pay for it ”.

When the company started, Justin Ellen was selling a six-inch cake for $ 60, but now it’s “easily $ 150 for the same size.”

Justin Elena

When it started, it was selling a six-inch cake for $ 60, but now it’s “easily $ 150 for the same size.”

Since January of this year, he has started earning up to $ 12,000 a month after racing his full-time business.

Art is super valuable and people will pay for it. Honestly, my price goes up slightly every day … depending on my mood.

Justin Elena

Owner, freshly cooked

“I realized that people were buying designer bags for thousands of dollars. You have to make your customers understand the value of your brand and what you offer them, because the cake tastes good and [I] use high quality ingredients “.

Even though the prices of his cakes have more than doubled over the years, that hasn’t stopped him from building a “very profitable business”.

“Art is super valuable and people will pay for it. Honestly, my price goes up a little every day … depending on my mood, “she said.

What if a customer asks why their cakes cost so much? “I’ll just be honest and say, I’m improving my skills every day, so the price has to go up. You’re paying for someone’s experience … it took me 5 years to learn how to do it. “

It doesn’t stop now

Dreaming big has definitely paid off Ellen. What he had imagined for himself has come true: he now sells cake mixes and baking tools online. From time to time he holds courses also for budding bakers.

Ellen added that she takes about 6 orders a week and they are “bigger orders now”. On a typical day, she would get up at 8 in the morning and work under her orders alone in her kitchen at home.

“Honestly, most of my clients don’t choose hyper-realistic cakes, they are wedding cakes instead.”

His parents are now “firmly convinced” that he made the right decision to pursue a career as a pastry chef. In fact, Ellen, who started out as a kitchen assistant, is now the boss.

“My mother works for me now,” he says happily. “You help me a lot with backend stuff … like you deliver them.”

Although he marvels at what he was able to accomplish at just 19, the young entrepreneur has not finished dreaming yet.

It will take a long time. But in the end, you will realize that it is really worth it.

Justin Elena

Owner, freshly cooked

“Non-stop, I think about my business and new ways to elevate it. I want to have a walk-in studio … but my ultimate goal is to be like Wilton, the cake decorating company.

Based in Illinois, Wilton manufactures a wide range of baked goods, decorations, cooking tools and ingredients popular with bakers.

“My goal is to be like this … [Everything Just Baked] It’s minority-owned, black-owned and I think we need to be represented because there are no major minority brands in the bakery community. “

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