Cool Job – A Cupcake Entrepreneur

Category : CAREER

The Cupcake Queen

By Caroline Cox

The day Gigi Butler opened her first store, her account balance was $33. Unable to get a loan, she cleaned houses to pay contractors and had family members working the counter. Where many would have thrown in the towel, Butler’s fierce entrepreneurial spirit motivated her not to give up – it wasn’t the first time she’d had to work for what she wanted.

An entrepreneur since age 15, Butler started her own cleaning company to support her dream of becoming a singer/songwriter. After a career switch at age 30, she opened the first Gigi’s Cupcakes in Nashville in 2008. It became the nation’s biggest and fastest growing cupcake franchise. By year’s end, her company expects to open its 50th store and reach $20 million in revenue.

Here, she talks to PINK ( America’s #1 digital platform for ambitious, intelligent women who are passionate about making a difference) about making a company stand out, her new baby and going with her gut.

PINK: What’s your success secret?

Gigi Butler: Owning my own company at a young age helped me learn about hard work in a humbling way, and it taught me to be persistent. I was motivated and determined to make something happen. When I finally decided to open Gigi’s Cleaning Company, I took a huge risk – you have to take risks to reap rewards. The secret to my success is that I never give up.

PINK: Did you ever feel like giving up?

GB: There were a lot of times I was going to give up. The day before I opened the first [cupcake] store, I cleaned three houses just to pay for the plumbing. The plumber was waiting at the store and I told him not to cash the check yet because I’d just finished making the $300 I owed him. Then the contractor came in and gave me a bill he had forgotten about: a $15,000 drywall bill. I literally had a meltdown and said, “I can’t do this.” I had $33 in my checkbook when I opened my doors.

PINK: What’s the biggest issue for career women today?

GB: The economy is a big concern for women and all Americans. There aren’t as many opportunities out there, and women have to work 10 times harder. It’s also scary starting a business right now. To be successful, we’ve got to set boundaries, learn to say “no” and be careful to not be taken advantage of.

PINK: What’s the secret to making a company stand out amongst the competition?

GB: We’re branded really well. I’ve taken a lot of time, effort and money to brand myself so we don’t look like a mom-and-pop, yet we have the homemade, home-baked goods. That makes us stand out. Read More

Work at home Moms start a “CAN DO” revolution

Category : CAREER

These CAN DO parents started a CAN DO revolution

Meet sisters Deborah Luster, Founder/President, and Chris Elders, Co-Founder and Director of Sales, of Can Do Kid, a local company whose mission is to inspire children and promote positive self-esteem. I met them on a recent morning as they were wrapping up their daily team meeting: a short run near Blackie’s Pasture (not a bad way to start the workday, eh?).

How did this all get started?

As a busy Mill Valley mom with three young children back in 2004, Deborah noticed that there wasn’t much on the market to help kids feel good about themselves, so she set out to create products that would make a difference in kids’ lives. ”We had the best parents on the planet,” she says, as Chris nods in agreement. “We weren’t raised in a wealthy environment” – they grew up in the East Bay and South Africa – “but with so much love. I wanted to give back.”

Read More

Freelancer Productivity Tips

Category : CAREER

Are You Killing Your Productivity? 6 Things to Watch Out For

Whether the work week is made up of two hours or two hundred, all freelancers, entrepreneurs, business owners, experts have one common goal: squeeze every last ounce of productivity out of time spent working. After all, time is money, and maximizing productivity is something that typically translates directly into bigger profits. But even the most experienced veterans of work can unknowingly fall victim to productivity killers and undermine their earning potential, or worse – willingly and actively participate in killing their productivity. Here are six productivity killers you need to watch out for to ensure that you stay productive, stay on point, and maximize your potential.

1. Weak or Absent Goal Setting: Are your goals well thought out and clearly defined? If not, your productivity will take a hit. Specific projects, job-hunting strategies, bidding practices, and your long-term career plans all need clearly defined goals and milestones to maximize output. Otherwise, you’re spending valuable energy constantly re-evaluating where you stand, how far you’ve come, and where to go next, robbing yourself of not only work time, but also a clear map to success.

2. Sacrificing Your Health: Health issues aren’t just a concern for providers who don’t set clear goals. Everyone can fall victim to this big productivity killer. Living the dream means setting your own hours and being your own boss, but the dark side translates to late hours, lack of much needed sleep, overworking, and other potential health issues. If you’re not sleeping enough, your productivity most likely will not maintain its optimal level.

And don’t forget diet and exercise. Long hours toiling over projects is hard on the body, so if you don’t make sure to eat well and exercise, it will show in your work. If you take the time out to take care of you, you’ll have more energy and sharper focus, making projects easier to complete in less time. This makes investing in your health very worthwhile for yourself as well as those you work with.

3. Freelance Style Faux Pas: Multi-tasking is a big buzzword and sets up many workers for a huge potential productivity trap. Some people thrive only while juggling a dozen or more projects at once. But what if you don’t?

Many freelancers and business owners feel pressured to juggle multiple projects as part of the lifestyle stereotype, but doing so is by no means a requirement and can actually destroy your productivity. It all depends on how you’re wired.

4. Playing the Victim: You lost the perfect deal, job, or contract you were sure was made for you. You’re crushed and can barely bring yourself to turn on the computer, let alone hunt down for more business opportunities. You mope around and do anything and everything you can think of to console yourself, except for the one thing that will actually cure you’re blues – land another deal. If you feed off rejection and let it sap time away from your end goals, you’re robbing yourself of time and money, starving your productivity in the process.

Rejection is hard, but unfortunately, it’s part of the business world. If rejection interferes with your productivity, a mindset shift is needed. Use the disappointment to fuel your productivity rather than hold you back, and you’ll not only increase your productivity, you’ll also decrease the impact rejection has on you in the future.

5. Time Bombs: Many freelancers and business owners thrive on pressure, but too much is never a good thing. Taking on too many projects, jobs, or business clients or grossly underestimating the time required to reach a deadline is a sure way to destroy your productivity.

A good rule of thumb is to always overestimate required time and underestimate the what you can handle. Otherwise, you run the risk of stretching yourself too thin and entering the space where pressure turns into panic. Next, productivity goes down the drain.

6. Senseless Acts of Procrastination: Most workers are guilty of these petty crimes, and justifications easily roll off the tongue – “Facebook and Twitter are good for networking…” “Checking email will only take thirty seconds…” Sound familiar?

A minute here and a few seconds there add up to a lot of wasted time that could be better spent. If you’re serious about increasing your productivity level, treat your work time sacred and log onto networking sites during ‘networking time’. And don’t think leaving it open in the background is acceptable. Why distract yourself with the temptation?

Some less obvious, but no less serious procrastination crime: Spell-checking and self editing several times as you go through rather than once at the end of the work session, grabbing that second (or third or fourth) cup of coffee, or the big one – taking phone calls. Let voicemail do its job – keep you distraction-free and raise your productivity – then return calls once your work time is up.

Then there’s the professional procrastinator standbys: Refilling your stapler, fixing that squeak in your chair, de-fragmenting your computer, or having an uncontrollable need to clean everything around you immediately. If you find yourself doing these or any similar things, you’re participating in some serious procrastination and delivering a mortal blow to your productivity.

Don’t be your own worst enemy. Stay productive and make every working moment count.


Canuworktomorrow Founder’s Update: Falling Forward

Category : FOUNDERS

Founder’s Update: 

by Heather Prantis

Officially fall  has arrived.  What is fall?  What does fall mean to you?  Literally, it’s the transition from summer to winter but, really it is a whole lot more.  A few off the top of my head…  Cool, crisp nights.  Football and Soccer  Sundays.  Apples, apples and more apples.  The fall foliage:  beautiful shades of red, orange and yellow.  Let’s not forgot raking leaves into piles so, that you can jump in them.  Fun times, right?  Yes, they are.  Oh, and let’s not forget the kids heading back to school!  For most of us this is the epitome of fall.  And I’m sure you can think of a few to, right?

Let’s head to the East coast and check in with our Founder’s, Cindy and Karen, and see what fall means to them and find out what’s hot and happening in their neck of the woods.

Here’s what Cindy says…


As Cindy leaves a busy summer behind she’s excited for her kid’s to be back in school and to be back to work.  With her kids back to school it gives her the extra energy and motivation to get back to it!  It’s time to leave those comfy workout clothes behind and step into fabulous fall fashion.  Back to it with a vengeance!

There’s something special about fall to Cindy, any guesses?  Let me help you a tad bit: visualize a very young Anthony Michael Hall singing to Molly Ringwald “You say it’s your birthday…!”.  Remember his drum-roll on the dashboard?  Your smiling right now, aren’t you?  I thought so.  A birthday shout out just for you Cindy courtesy of Sixteen Candles and the Beatles.  Sorry, but I just couldn’t resist!  Everyone deserves a little excitement on their special day, right?  Right.  Happy Birthday Cindy!  I hope you had a magical day.

Besides celebrating and working hard,  Cindy loves fall shopping.  Shopping that is, for those key fall pieces that will one day soon be making their way into her closet.  And let me point out that someone [Cindy] is rather intrigued by the season’s reddish brick hue that has been popping up around town and on the runways.  A few dashes of the bold shade will definitely be added to Cindy’s fall looks.  Her key wardrobe picks will of course include: jeans, wool pants, and black leggings.  Cindy loves jeans, a definite staple to her fall wardrobe, and they are the new wool pant.  Cindy’s signature look: a chic pair of True Religion or AG jeans paired with an over sized black sweater, a classic Gucci bag, a fabulous pair of boots, and crisp white shirt or maybe even a splash of color.  And let’s not forget the accessories.  Yes, yes and yes!  Her list definitely includes a stop by the Michael Kors store for a belt or two or three, and how about an Hermes scarf that special texture, elegance and color.

Her absolute must-have item for fall is boots, boots and more boots.  Oh, yes!  Short boots, tall boots, winter boots, rain boots, sexy boots.  Cindy will be on the lookout for a very special pair of black (her signature color) over the knee, sky-high, designer boots are calling her name.  Each of us needs the one sexy pair, right?  Oh, yes we do!  They are so calling her name right now.  Can you hear it?  I can.  And to finish off her new fall look Cindy will most assuredly make her way over to the Lancôme counter for a few favorites.  A little drama for those lashes, a little color shine for those lips, and a fabulous bright eye for fall.

What does fall mean to you?  What key pieces are you adding to your wardrobe?  Any colors calling your name?  The Founder’s of canUworktomorrow, Cindy and Karen, would love to hear from you and all about what fall means to you.  Please share your comments on Facebook, Twitter or here on Spotlight.

Heather Pranitis, Guest Writer, signing off.  Can’t wait to check with Karen for her early winter plans. For more buzz on Heather head over to this & that…