Getting To Know: Mindy Sepeti of Mindy's Bakeshop

MaggieGentry interviews Mindy Sepeti of Mindy's Bakeshop where she shares her love of baking, how she finds inspiration, and building a small business centered around community.

Do you know how certain people come into your life at the exact moment that you need them most? That's how it was when I met Mindy.

I was three months into being a full-time business owner, and I was terrified, and eager, and scared shitless, and loving this new life all at the same time. Having someone to ride that roller coaster with me has been an insanely helpful venture, and not only did I find a business owner who values the same things I do, but I found a soul sister.

Mindy is the beauty and the baker behind Mindy's Bakeshop with her husband Kenny. I dare you to meet her and not experience the most life-changing hug of your life and the best belly laugh you've allowed to rumble through your body since you were a kid. She is a powerful human who spreads love and kindness through every interaction. And it's no wonder her baked goods are so magical because she bakes in some of that love and positive energy into every batch.

She is a woman on a mission to grow her business from a place of sincerity and intention, and it's because of that mentality that I have no doubt she's on the path to take over the baking world. She is proof that slow and steady wins the race. She is proof that you can have every obstacle thrown in your path, but if you believe in it hard enough, you can make your dreams a reality. She is proof that love and kindness will win every time.

 

I absolutely love the story of how you found your true passion for baking. Will you share with us how you got started and how that led you to start Mindy’s Bakeshop

Sure! I went to UT for five years and instead of going to classes I didn’t like I would stay home and bake for friends. It was my therapy and my hobby! After I quit school in 2009 I started waitressing at a Chili’s and soon enough I was baking for all my co-workers. They were ordering cookies and cakes and eventually my manager said, “Go to pastry school!” It finally clicked that I could do what I love and make a living at it. After I finished pastry school I worked full-time in professional pastry kitchens and continued to sell cakes and cookies on the side. Once my husband (then boyfriend) joined Mindy’s Bakeshop it was clear that this was something we wanted and needed to pursue full-time. Best decision we ever made!

What aspect of your work is the most life-giving for you?

There are so many! First and foremost, creating something is really special for me. I love the process of baking. The measuring, the sifting, the mixing, the decorating - all of it feels like a really good therapy session. Beyond that, there’s nothing more satisfying than handing a box to a client and having them go nuts over it. Making people happy is the most fantastic feeling!

Was there ever a time when you happily ignored external validation or outside advice about your business so that you could follow the True North that you created for yourself? If so, how did making that choice to follow Your Why impact not only you, but your business?

Absolutely! I think just taking the leap and quitting a steady paycheck to pursue business ownership is in itself one of the riskiest things a person can do, and I can’t count how many times I had people express concern over that. We also feel very strongly about keeping this a home-based business. We could not love working from home more than we do, and the idea of owning a storefront has never appealed to me, but it’s by far the biggest suggestion we get on the reg. “When are you getting a storefront?” “You know you could make more money with a storefront.” “How come y’all haven’t gotten a storefront yet?”

And as valid as those questions and opinions are, it’s just not our True North. In the beginning when I’d get that question I would hem and haw and pretend that sure, maybe that was in our future. But the more I was asked, the more I was forced to truly examine what Kenny and I want our business to look like. As frustrating as those outside opinions can be, they can also give you clarity about what you actually want and need. Now it’s easy for me to speak up about where Mindy’s Bakeshop is going, and I welcome the hard questions.

I know that this year has thrown you a few personal and professional curveballs. Through it all you have remained amazingly positive and unwaveringly supportive to everyone around you. Not to mention, when you are your business, there can be a fine line of what to share with your audience, and I think you’ve handled this with such grace. What has been your philosophy to help you get through this tumultuous time?

You are so kind. This last year has been so crazy for us. Lots of ups, but also lots of downs. We’ve been lucky to have been surrounded by some really great people through it all (ahemMAGGIEahem)  and I feel like it’s made me much more aware of the fact that everyone’s dealing with something. It’s given me a deeper sense of empathy for the people around me, and it’s made me want to support and lift others up in the same way that we were supported and lifted up. And I also learned (and am still learning) that you just have to keep swimming. As a small biz owner, you are the one responsible for making money. Bills don’t stop just because life is hard, so we’ve had to learn how to be brave and keep fighting even when we’d rather not. It’s not a fun lesson but I do think that it’s given us grit and for that I am v thankful.

Whenever we get together I feel like we always bond over stories about how we’re trying to be more human in our interactions with others via our businesses. We both highly value genuine connection and community. What are some other core values and/or beliefs that are paramount to how you run Mindy’s Bakeshop, and the legacy you want to leave?

Girl yes! Meeting people and getting to know their stories is one of my favorite things about what we do. And creating those connections allows us to not just bring in clients, but actually turn them into friends. I want people to leave my presence and feel good about who they are. I want them to know that I genuinely care about them. It’s so easy to be jaded in today’s world but I’m a naturally positive person and my goal is always to share that positivity, even if it’s just with some cute cookies. We strive to produce high-quality, bespoke baked goods with a lot of love because that’s what we believe in most.

You are a cookie-decorating, cake-baking machine! I’m so curious, how do you possibly manage a workload where you can’t do too much to prep in advance? As someone who likes more structure in my schedule, how do you balance all of the life things along with those long days/nights before a deadline?

I wish I was as structured as you! I’ve gotten pretty good over the years at figuring out how long any given order will take us to make from start to finish, so that helps a lot when creating our schedule for the week. On Monday we’ll take a look at all our orders, start prepping doughs and batters, and then work our way through each invoice as the week goes on. Working from home gives us a ton of flexibility when it comes to working hours so we make our own schedule according to what we feel like doing that week. Some weeks are longer than others because, you’re right, we can’t prep things too far in advance. We want all our products to be as fresh as possible so you just have to resign yourself to the fact that some nights you’ll forego sleep to detail 100 logo cookies. I know some bakers who are much more structured than I am when it comes to scheduling work, but I love the freedom of choosing to watch another episode of Shameless or take a nap at 3pm in exchange for a late night decorating sesh. It’s all about balance for me and sometimes taking time for a little self-care is worth the extra work.

Another fun aspect of your biz is that you teach some really great cookie decorating workshops around the greater Austin area. What has been your favorite memory from sharing your love of baking and cookie decorating with your students?

LOVE teaching classes! It’s another one of those opportunities to connect with the people in your community, and I leave every class walking on a cloud because it’s so much fun for me. I’ve had so many great experiences with it, but my favorite has to be seeing the same faces walk through the door a second and a third time. Knowing that these women are coming back for our class again and again is so humbling and so so validating for us. Return clients are always the highlight of my days because it means we’re doing something right, and there is no better feeling as a small biz owner than that.

What has been the craziest request you ever received and actually made happen?

In January of this year we received our biggest order to date! $3000 worth of baked goods, including 500 decorated cookies, 41 dozen mini cupcakes, 150 mini pineapple upside down cakes, and 250 thumbprint cookies. As home-based bakers who live in a 600 sq. ft. apartment it was quite the challenge but we were determined to make it happen! It was definitely the longest week we’d ever had but it also felt great to push the limits of what we can do production-wise.

Let’s get dreamy for a minute! If you could pick one person in the world (dead or alive) that you would love to bake for, who is it, and what do you create?

Ooooh friend, that’s such a good question. But easy answer. My grandpa. He was one giant sweet tooth of a man, and my earliest memories are of him feeding me Danish butter cookies and ice cream. Earl definitely passed his love of sugar on to me, but he died when I was in high school so I never had the chance to bake for him. He loved pecans (he would spend hours collecting them each day and then hours shelling them on his porch in the afternoon) so I’d bake him a pecan pie just like my Granny used to and make homemade vanilla bean ice cream (his fave) to go with it. Nothing in the whole world would make me happier.

I’ve gotta know: What are you currently watching or listening to while you decorate all those cookies?!

Shameless! I discovered this hidden gem on the free tv website I use (don’t judge me) and there were SEVEN SEASONS! I’m almost done, and I know my life will feel empty when it’s over. I was also told I have to watch this ultra creepy documentary called “Tickled” so that’s in my cue, as well.

BONUS: Please feel free to share anything else that is coming to the surface or that you’d like to share. It can be something fun, silly, informative. If the rest of these questions got the juices flowing, but you feel like you have something else to say - here’s the space to do it.  :)

If you’re a small biz owner I just want to encourage you to really chase YOUR dream. Not the dream of the people giving you well-meaning words of advice, but the one inside you. And don’t be scared if it looks different than other people’s. Don’t let that stop you from going after it.

It’s easy to stay safe but it’s not rewarding. Start and grow at your own pace! If that means you work out of your apartment for 2+ years like us, GREAT! You know what’s best for you and if I’ve learned anything from Maggie it’s that you have to honor that. One of the best pieces of advice Maggie has ever given me (or anyone has given me, for that matter) is this: Do as much as you can with as little as you can for as long as you can. It has become our motto, and I know it’s been the key to our success so far. Don't be scared to dream big but also don’t be scared to get there at your own pace.

 
Mindy & Kenny Sepeti are the couple behind the bespoke custom baked goods at Mindy's Bakeshop. 

 

Want to know more? Eager to connect with Mindy? Here's how:

Ready to place your custom cake or cookie order today?

Head over to Mindy's Bakeshop website, and fill out the submission form on CONTACT portion of the website.

 

Fun little extra:

Be on the lookout for our new baking blog coming soon to the website!