College students aren’t known for making the smartest decisions in the middle of the night. But one that a then-21-year-old Shelby Olstad made in 2019 is still paying off.
The self-taught baker founded Miggy’s Bakes, named after her dog, during the second semester of her senior year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For two years, she baked thousands of cookies and cakes after school, and later, after her full-time job, running on little sleep and big dreams.
By 2021, she had enough business to quit her marketing job, and today, she’s getting ready to open Miggy’s very first brick-and-mortar bakery just outside of Madison. We caught up with Shelby for this Small Business Spotlight…
UpNorthNews Editor Christina Lorey: The first time we met, I remember you saying that opening a shop was your ultimate dream. When did you realize it was actually attainable?
Miggy’s Bakes Owner Shelby Olstad: There wasn’t a particular moment, but more like a lot of signs pointing towards this being the next thing we needed to do. Space constraints and timing coordination in our current kitchen has been difficult, especially with the amount of growth we’ve had over the last year. To keep growing, I knew we needed to find a space we could call our own.
Why now? And why Middleton?
I’ve always known my first shop was going to be in Middleton [a suburb just west of Madison], and that was something I refused to budge on. I grew up there and I love everything about it, so it was a no brainer for me!
Logistically, the biggest thing that has helped me has been working with the team at the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center. They are experts at advising small business owners, and their services are completely free. I don’t think anyone ever feels fully ready to take a huge leap like this, but I’d rather look back and know I took a chance.
What kinds of NEW treats can customers expect at your store?
Our soft serve sundaes, featuring desserts from our case in some delicious combinations, will be insane– trust me!
I’m also really excited to introduce themed days: Princess Day with princesses in-store and special treats, playing Jump Around on Badger game days with red and white filling the cases, and more. We’ll also have Sunday brunch days, with fresh cinnamon rolls and all the brunch-themed desserts you can dream of!
Is there anything you’re nervous about?
I’m definitely nervous about the giant leap I’m taking. This is a huge financial investment, and it’s stressful beyond belief. Being a small business owner is a challenge in a million different ways, and finances are a large part of that. My customers have been extremely supportive though, so I’m confident in our jump!
How many people do you plan on adding to your team? And what have you learned over the past two years about managing others?
We’ll have around 10 people on staff, with hopefully two or three full-time employees. Managing a team is the hardest part of the business, in my opinion, but you get out of it what you put into it. We like to work hard and play hard, and I’m constantly looking for ways to build our relationships.
Last thing: Now that this dream has been accomplished, what big, lofty goal is next?
My biggest dream is to have shops throughout southern Wisconsin, plus two additional shops in Florida and South Carolina. Those are my favorite places to visit, so I’d love to have shops there for “work” purposes!
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