My day of taking over a local cupcake shop ended with me sending Machelle Staggs, owner of P-Dilly’s Cupcakes in Cookeville, TN, a text message that read, “Machelle, I don’t know how you do that every day!! You are one tough cupcake!”
Why did we take over a cupcake shop for the day? It all started with a paint and sip event that Machelle, Emily Newman (owner of Emily Newman Fine Art), and I put on. Last October, we started the “Cocktails, Cupcakes, and Canvas” event to help out a friend. Since then, we’ve successfully done three events! Because of these events, our entrepreneur mindset, and our kindred crazy personalities, we have also become friends. I don’t mean the kind of friends that go to the movies together or even grab dinner together. I mean the kind of friends that understand each other and push each other to be our best selves. We have a group text between the three of us and it is rare that we go a day without throwing out some joke or new idea to help improve our businesses.
Lately, I have made it my focus to use my experience to help other business owners. Helping them and seeing them succeed brings me happiness. While on my drive to start setting up for our latest Cocktails, Cupcakes, and Canvas event, I had a crazy idea: What if Emily and I take over P-Dilly’s so Machelle can take a day off and get a much needed break?
Every day that P-Dilly’s is open, Machelle is there. Even on the two days per week the shop closes, Machelle is business planning and running errands. She never gets a break! She’d been wanting to visit her family in Arkansas but that would mean she’d have to completely close the shop while she was gone. I wanted to do something nice for her because she is always taking care of everyone else. Though it seemed crazy, I thought there was a chance we could convince her to go along with our idea.
Emily didn’t even hesitate when I asked her to do it with me. Now we just had to sell Machelle on the idea 🙂 I pitched it to her that night and all I can say is she didn’t outright say no! It would be three long days before she would finally tell Emily and me, “yes.” Good thing too, because I had already formulated and fully outlined an entire plan in a Google Doc to send to both of them. Machelle cried when she read it.
Then she gave us her rules: 1. Don’t get me a bad review 2. Don’t get me shut down. Way to put the stress on us, Machelle! 😉
Friday morning, February 15th, we showed up for “work” at P-Dilly’s. Truthfully, Machelle had baked cupcakes for us that morning because we had no idea what we are doing on that side of things. But once she finished baking, she was out of there!
Here is what we learned:
- Running a cupcake shop…Is. Nonstop. Emily and I had such big plans for everything we were going to do that day: Make Paleo lemon muffins, bake cookies, bring surprise treats to the businesses around town that we like. We did not make muffins, we did not bake cookies, and we only made it to one-third of the businesses we wanted to! We only did half the sales P-Dilly’s normally does in a day, and we were constantly running around!
- Machelle must have superpowers. It is the only explanation for how she is able to work 12-14 hours per day and still love what she does! By 2:30 pm, Emily was so exhausted she could hardly smile and my calves were starting to cramp. Running a cupcake shop sounds warm and fuzzy, but it is hard work!
- We were overwhelmed with how nice and patient everyone was! More often than not, we couldn’t answer customers’ questions, and we just had to explain that we didn’t work there and had taken over the shop for the day so Machelle could have a break. We even had customers come in that day simply because they had seen the post on Facebook that we were taking it over for the day. Thank you to all who supported us!
- Be nice to small business owners. Their days are not simple and it is not easy. I can’t imagine a normal day being twice as busy as we were. If you have a friend who has a small business, especially in retail, go in and help them for a couple of hours. I found that if you ask them, it gives them the chance to say “no” when they really mean “yes.” 🙂
- Choose joy in your life. This time last year, I was in the worst place in my life. The company I was involved in had a horrible culture and atmosphere. Every day I felt like more and more of me was dying inside. Doing something like this wasn’t even a concept I could fathom, because at that point in my life I was just trying to survive. Leaving there and breaking down all the falsehoods I thought were a reality changed my life, and now I get to make small, positive changes in others’ lives. I choose joy and now I feel like joy is choosing me.
Emily Newman and Stephanie Zarling, thank you for being a part of my crazy idea and doing it with as much passion and energy as I had. Stephanie wasn’t originally going to be a part of the takeover but immediately jumped in that morning. She stayed with us the entire day until we closed and helped clean up for the day. Machelle, thank you for trusting us with your business!! You are truly a rock star and make the best cupcakes and desserts I’ve ever had. THANK YOU!!!
Stephanie Zarling is an amazing musician! She sings and plays guitar as part of our Cupcakes, Cocktails, and Canvas events. If you are local to Cookeville, I highly recommend her!! Follow her on Instagram and Facebook: @stephaniezarlingmusic and Stephanie Zarling Music.
I am Alane Boyd. You can follow me on Instagram: @the_hurricanealane.