The Fab Files is a weekly profile of a mom mover and shaker. Women we admire, who inspire us, and who have amazing stories to share. Oh, and they happen to have kids, too! While we love to talk about celebrity moms and their fabulous lives, we also love (and need) to know about real moms who are out here doing it all, just as fabulously. This week we’re profiling Kortney Williams, who we first starred in last week’s edition of Foodie Fiends for her deliciously unique sweets. But now it’s time to get a little more in-depth with the lady who’s the face behind the heavenly cookies, pies and cakes being battered up in the Jersey-based bakery Kortney’s Kustom Kreations; and most importantly, the woman who boasts proud mom to seven-year-old Noah, five-year-old Josiah, and four-year-old Trinity.
Kortney had always known that she had a passion for baking buttery goods ever since her early days of molding cakes and cookies with her playtime Play-Doh. But it wasn’t until she lost her job as a daycare cook that the three-time mom decided to exercise her knack for cake-crafting full-time. She couldn’t find a decent-paying job to support her family, so she put on her super-cap of faith and decided to make things happen on her own. And voila! Only a few months up and running and already, business is booming and customers can’t seem to get enough of her delectable desserts.
With the power of social media, she’s been able to expand her brand all across the state of New Jersey (and beyond), pulling in customers with every like and share. But besides her mompreneurship, what makes Kortney’s story even more inspiring is that she’s never stepped foot in pastry school. That’s right, this supermom is self-taught! (But with a history of cooks and caterers in her family, it’s safe to say that throwing down in the kitchen just runs through her blood.)
Now it’s time to sit back and learn a little about what drives this bomb mom, how she juggles motherhood and work, and what she plans to do with her business in the future. (If only we had one of her cupcakes and some tea.)
What was your motivation to start your career/business?
My motivation to start my career was my drive to give my children a better life than I had. Growing up, my mother worked at Pathmark my entire life. I followed in her footsteps for a while, but I always knew I wanted better. I couldn’t find a job that would pay well enough to support my family and allow me to save for their futures, so that was my motivation.
How has being a mom influenced how you work or the career you’ve chosen?
Being a mom has influenced my career because there is no greater motivation than to be able to be the parent I never had. I always wanted my mom to be involved with my education. She worked very late, so I barely got to see her. I want my children to know that I am there for them 100 percent. Being a mother of three helps my business a lot because I have to get up early, stay up late, and do things when I don’t really feel like it, which are all necessary aspects of being a good parent and running a successful business.
Do your kids ever help you out with any of your designs?
When it comes to being hands-on with my orders, I am the only one who gets to touch anything. When you’re working with food, you can’t make any mistakes. However, when it comes to the visual side of my business, my kids have been a great help to me. I often ask them for their opinions on different styles of cakes and they are the best taste testers you could ever find!
Besides your children, who inspires you?
My brother Khary inspires me. He passed away four years ago due to epilepsy. He was my biggest cheerleader in everything I did. My brother grew up not being able to read because of previous medical conditions, but he never let that hold him back. He was teased, bullied, and treated like an outcast, but that never changed his outlook on life. Khary chose to be happy no matter what. He inspires me because even when it seemed like the world had it out for him, he always kept his head up with a big smile on his face. He is my constant reminder that no matter what I am going through, I have to be strong.
What’s your daily routine like?
My daily routine consists of first, getting my kids off to school and answering emails and messages. I then work on my orders, check to see what items need to be purchased for upcoming orders, and then head to the supply store. (Which I do a lot because I don’t like to have too much stuff lying around. I’m obsessed with organization.) I always try to find new ways to promote myself. Everywhere I go I talk to people and let them know I’m a cake designer; I give out cards daily. And every afternoon I get to pick up my kids and ask them about their day, which makes me very happy.
Balancing three kids and a successful business has to be a lot of work. So what’s your best way to get things done? Being super organized? Working early in the morning or late at night?
The best way to get things done for me us to have everything organized and labeled. I do a lot of my work overnight when I can have peace and quiet. I want to only put out my best work.
Speaking of your best work, which one of your kustomized designs do you like most? What about your top five?
The kustomized cake that I like the most is the three-tier red pillow cake I made for a Sweet 16 party. My top five cakes are the pillow cake, the Breast Cancer Awareness one, the Frozen cake, the Autism Awareness cake and the Ninja Turtles cake.
Building such intricately detailed orders must be challenging at times. How long does it usually take you to complete a project?
The length of time that it takes me to complete a project varies. Over the last few months, I have gone from taking all night to make one cake to making a few cakes in one night. I recently had a challenge to complete a baby reveal cake the same day the mother-to-be had her ultrasound. I had three hours to make the cake so that the anxious mom could find out the sex at her baby reveal party.
The most time-consuming kustomized kreation I have made so far has to be The Autism Awareness Cake I made. I was given the task to create a cake for someone who is very active in the Autism Awareness community and I wanted it to be special; therefore I cut out each puzzle piece by hand so they would interlock perfectly. I loved the way the cake came out and my customer did too!
What has been the most extreme request that you’ve received thus far, if any?
The most extreme request I have received was a birthday cake for two ladies turning 40. They wanted a cake with a penis sticking out—they loved it!
In that regard, what’s your favorite thing about your company? Least favorite?
My favorite thing about my business is I make my own schedule and I absolutely love what I do! My least favorite part of my business is dealing with rude customers. A lot of times people feel like they can be disrespectful just because they’re spending money. The way I handle rude customers is to remember that not everyone has manners and by keeping a positive attitude. I find that it rubs off on others.
Which of your desserts is the most popular among customers? How about your personal favorite?
The Banana Pudding Cake is my number one seller, followed by red velvet. My personal favorite is sweet potato pie, but my kids love banana pudding with Chessmen cookies and Nilla wafers. I have to make a huge bowl for them!
Your business has grown so fast over the past few months, and you’re just getting started. What is your five-year plan for Kortney’s Kustom Kreations?
My five-year plan for my business is to expand my brand to cover everything party related such as: invitations, decorations, characters in costume, DJs, catering, the rental space for events—everything you can think of. I want to also use my success to start a mentoring program for young girls.