- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Cupcakes, not computers, rule this business
Sweet beginnings: For Trena Jackson, passion has become a tasty source of profit.
Jackson, a Prince George’s County native who works primarily as a computer engineer for the U.S. Navy, is the owner of baking company Scandelicious Sweets. The decision to begin baking professionally was one born of nostalgia and a lifelong love of baking.
“As I was growing up I would spend my summer months with my grandmother,” Jackson said. “She was a seamstress and cook, so I learned a lot from her.”
Jackson holds a degree in electrical engineering and has no formal baking experience outside of her latest endeavor, but feels her time with her grandmother prepared her for success.
“Everything she cooked was from scratch and delicious,” Jackson said. “I think that is the best training one could have.”
The right ingredients: Her decision to begin baking professionally came about as a result of those summers, combined with the wish to fulfill a passion.
“I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur,” Jackson said. “About four years ago, I started creating chocolate roses, bouquets and making cakes as birthday gifts for my friends and family. They all loved them so much that they persuaded me to start a business, which I actually love doing. It feels great to be able to do something you love.”
Since beginning the business, Jackson has expanded her baking repertoire, and continues to look for new innovations regularly.
“Now [Scandelicious Sweets] includes cakes, cupcakes and the latest is pushup cakes, similar to the old-fashioned orange ice cream pushups. They are personalized cupcakes that are easy to store and fun to serve,” she said.
Sweet success: To expand the variety of goods available, Jackson uses her U.S. Navy co-workers as her “test bed.” She tries to add a new flavor each month.
Despite having a range of options, Jackson’s favorite things to bake are the pushup cakes because of the novelty they involve, along with the classic cupcake.
“It’s such a big treat in a nice package,” Jackson said. “But cupcakes will always be my first choice. I love when I create a unique flavor combination. I try to provide different flavors to wow my customers.”
Jackson’s most popular cupcakes are her homemade red velvet with Chambord cream cheese cupcakes. She feels her product is distinguished by being wholly her own creation.
“What makes me different is that my cakes are made from scratch, which makes them moist and delicious,” Jackson said. “I use everything fresh and the best ingredients, such as strawberries, pineapples and Madagascar bourbon vanilla ... but I can’t tell you all of my secrets.”
Jackson feels her biggest challenge is gaining publicity for her business, which she does through a variety of means.
“[Advertising] is not one of my fortes,” Jackson said. “I would say that I do about four to five orders a week. I advertise via emails, fliers, Facebook, community events, word-of-mouth and advertising boards. Advertising is my least favorite part of the business. I just want to bake.”
Service with a smile: Right now, Jackson does much of her business at the Sunset Concert Festival Series on Friday nights during the summer in Waldorf. Despite the challenge of publicity, the reward is much sweeter.
“My favorite part is when I know that I provided a customer with exactly the vision they were looking for and the unique taste that makes them return for more,” Jackson said. “I cater to the customer’s needs and add that extra touch. I want the element of surprise.”
Ultimately, Jackson said, there is a connection between her two careers.
“Baking is like programming,” Jackson said. “There are different recipes and different ways to code a process, but once you secure the baseline you can create multiple visions and flavors.”
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