Gigi’s Cupcakes works with local owners to help them achieve their dreams as they bring cupcakes to families in their markets. One such owner is Marina Lee, owner of Gigi’s Cupcakes in Brier Creek and Wilmington, N.C. We recently spoke with Lee about why she chose the franchise, the secret to her success and why she would recommend franchising to others.
How long have you owned a franchise?
Since Dec. 2011.
What were you doing before becoming a franchise owner?
I was in Operations at Cisco for 19 years, starting with an entry level position and worked my way up to leading rock star teams and managing the company’s top accounts. One of my career highlights while working at Cisco was being an expat on international assignments, living in Asia and Europe and working within those cultures.
Why did you choose your franchise?
I was on a conference call with my colleague, Beth, who was stopped at a Gigi’s Cupcakes in Auburn, Alabama for a thank you gift and told me to take a look at the Gigi’s website. One look and I was hooked — a big splash of beautiful cupcakes illuminating my screen! We then happened to meet the founder, Gigi Butler, who was at another store for a local meet and greet, and immediately fell in love with her and her vision for the company. There was a big need for a gourmet bake shop in our neighborhood and we jumped on the franchising opportunity immediately.
What is your secret to success?
We focus on 3 core pillars: product, customers and community. Giving back to our local community is instrumental for us. So many of our customers are doing such great things to help causes in our community and what better way to support those people and causes than through delicious cupcakes! We have found that if we support the people who are coming in to buy your quality products and they will spread the word to all of their friends and family.
What is one trend that really excites you?
The cupcake trend excites me! However, I don’t see it as a trend, but more of an evolved staple. I liken cupcakes to the evolution of coffee. When I was growing up, a typical place to get a cup of coffee would be at a restaurant or diner — now coffee has evolved to become more sophisticated with specialty coffee and coffee shops. To me, that’s what cupcakes have become and Gigi’s Cupcakes is one of the providers of specialized cupcakes and gourmet treats.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them? Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I love utilizing social media to promote our products, specials and events. We are such a visual and interactive society now and these are fantastic and powerful tools to promote our business.
Do you (or did you ever) have a mentor?
One of my bosses at Cisco was Jon Roberson. He was a huge influencer on my servant leadership style, which resulted in leading high performing and motivated teams. He also taught me to have faith in God, not just when times are good, but especially during times of uncertainty or struggle. He is a great leader full of integrity and an inspirational person.
What advice do you have for others looking to own a franchise?
Love what you do — passion will help propel you forward during the inevitable days that you’re inundated and think “What the heck did I get myself into?” Starting your own business may not always be easy, but it is one of the most rewarding and life-changing experiences you will ever have.
Would you recommend others be franchisees? Why?
I would absolutely recommend others to be a franchisee. A good franchise will have the structures and support systems in place and have proven success in their methodologies. They will also help your business evolve with the trends. Collaborating with the franchise support teams and tailoring your business to your market needs is a proven formula for success in franchising.
Where can people get more information on Gigi’s Cupcakes franchise opportunities?
Visit the website here.
Where can people find Gigi’s Cupcakes on social media?
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