Jillian Hopke is the owner of the Orlando, FL based Jillycakes. She also was the winner of Season 6, Episode 12 of Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Jillian about her road to victory and how she got started in the business.
Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how Jillycakes came about?
Jillian Hopke: About 5 years ago I started baking for several of my coworkers, various birthdays and celebrations and each time people were blown away by the cakes and cupcakes. AT that point I was fortunate enough to have a captive audience and I started experimenting with flavors and bringing them to work. While everyone was just happy to have free cake I was able to get them hooked on my product and solicit some free market research in the meantime. When we first started baking for hire many of our clients were, and still are, friends of ours. Up until the moment we were on the show our advertising had been 100% word of mouth. It speaks volumes for your product when you can become so successful just by friends telling friends.
MG: Have you always want to work in this field?
JH: Baking has always been a hobby and a passion for me I never expected or planned to have things get to this magnitude. Growing up we were taught if you do something you should strive to be the best at it. I’m completely self-taught and have been blessed with a natural artistic skill. I can’t express how fortunate I feel that something I love doing has become such a prominent part of my life!
MG: How did you get chosen to compete on “Cupcake Wars”?
JH: I was sent the link to the online casting call by a very good friend of mine Blake. At first I didn’t take him very seriously but, knowing of our years of experience performing for local theme parks, he said “c’mon….we already know you make the best cupcakes PLUS you would make great television”. So I took his advice and wrote from the heart… .I never dreamed they would actually choose us! The very first part of the process was just an essay to submit our application and plead our case. The video audition tape that was requested by our casting agent didn’t come till many months later. All in all it was a casting process spanning nearly two years.
MG: How has winning “Cupcake Wars” affected your company?
JH: Our business has tripled over night. It seems like everywhere we go someone has heard of us so we are now finally becoming a household name. Some clients ordered a cake and brought it out to a local restaurant and their server went nuts when they saw our logo on the box. We also have had to pad our delivery times with a few extra min to accommodate the interviews and photo shoots that happen when we show up to people’s houses…..it’s amazing how many people don’t expect us to show up in person.
MG: How does it feel to be given a chance to come back as an all-star for “Cupcake Wars”?
JH: The response from our fans has been overwhelming. We have fans contacting us from across almost all 50 states as well as 20 countries worldwide. Because Orlando is the tourist capitol of the world we have been able to reach a much broader spectrum of people. We can’t wait to get back on and make our fans proud. Besides….there can’t possibly be a harder secret ingredient than seafood right??!!
MG: How can people get a taste of your work?
JH: Orders can be placed online through our website or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. All orders include free delivery and come conveniently to you whether you live here or are just visiting one of our many resorts and hotels. Due to our current volume of orders a 5 day minimum lead time is advised to be sure we can accommodate the request.
MG: Do you only deliver in Orlando FL?
JH: Right now everything is local delivery but we have been experimenting successfully with some shipping options for our products so you may see Jillycakes available all across America sometime soon. We also can travel to other central Florida locations upon special request.
MG: What does Jillycakes have planned next?
JH: We would like to start by increasing our community outreach and are working on concepts and plans for a retail location to open next year. We also have plans to offer a new type of in home party for all ages with cupcake baking demos and decorating tips. The main goal right now is just continuing to change the way people think about cake to make memorable experiences for them rather than ho hum forgettable celebrations.
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