Natalie Madison Takes Cake Business In New Direction

October 13th, 2017 by Gwen Green

ASBTDC client Natalie Madison

Natalie Madison is part baker, part artist, part business woman.

When she decided to expand her cake business, she turned to her partners at the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

“Natalie has been a client of the ASBTDC for more than a decade and continually utilizes the services we provide. She always wants to learn,” said ASBTDC Business Consultant Whitney Horton.

Since 2013, Madison has owned and operated Natalie Madison’s Artisan Cakes LLC in Little Rock, specializing in three-dimensional sculptural cakes and intricate custom wedding cakes.

Now, in addition to creating cakes, she will sell bakery supplies and offer classes from a new location with a new name, Art Is In Cakes Bakery & Supply.

A year ago, Madison entered talks with Vanness, Inc., the central Arkansas supplier of all things cake baking and decorating for the last 40 years. She agreed to purchase the Vanness inventory. She also found a new retail space on West Markham Street.

Needing financing for the project, Madison reached out to Horton and the ASBTDC.

Horton helped Madison revamp her business plan to show how the business was evolving and prepare a loan proposal incorporating detailed market research.

“By working with the ASBTDC, I was able to push through the loan process much faster and with more confidence that the information was correct. I’m sure that if we hadn’t worked together that I would still be trying to figure out what lender I was going to use,” said Madison, who received a Small Business Administration-backed 7(a) loan through Arvest Bank.

Horton and Madison discussed all aspects of the expansion, from the impact of new revenue streams on the business to e-commerce and operating an online store.

As the November opening of her new space nears, Madison says she feels ready.

“It’s pretty much going just as I had planned. One thing I have learned is that no matter how much you prepare, there’s always going to be something you weren’t expecting,” she said. “However, without going through this expansion, I would have never known I needed it. I guess what I’m saying is that I was as prepared as an entrepreneur could be, but you have to be ready for a curveball.”