For most of Mindy Sepeti's life, her side hustle has been baking. It started in college when she'd skip classes to make cookies for friends, and continued to her 20s when she'd bring in sweets for her co-workers at a local Chili's Grill & Bar.
That all changed when a colleague at the restaurant advised Sepeti to go to pastry school, and less a month later, she had quit her job and started classes at Le Cordon Bleu pastry school in Austin, Texas. "It was like a light bulb turned on and I realized I could do what I love and make a living out of it," says Sepeti, who is 32-years-old. "I have never looked back."
Sepeti is now the co-founder of Mindy's Bakeshop, an Austin-based bakery and dessert catering company she launched with her husband Ken in 2015. In 2016, the first full year of business, the couple sold $25,000 worth of treats. This year, Sepeti says they're expecting to hit $32,000
Sepeti didn't have a background in business, but she did have an extensive one in baking. She grew up in the kitchen with her mother - the best baker she knows. Sepeti attended the University of Texas in Austin to study elementary education and theater, but didn't get her degree. Instead, she studied the chocolate chip cookie recipes that reminded her home. Years later, when she worked at the Chili's 20 minutes away from her hometown of Donna, Texas, she never dreamed of having her own baking business.
A husband-and-wife baking duo
Sepeti met her husband Ken in 2012 and a year later he also enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu pastry school. Armed with their education and passion for sweets, the couple began developing their bakeshop side hustle until 2015, when they saved enough money to pay several months of rent and quit their other jobs.
"We just jumped in head first and started our little home-base bakeshop," Sepeti says. "It was terrifying because its sink or swim."
Sepeti says she and Ken built enough of a client base during their part time days to support the business, but they didn't have any money for advertising. To this day, the co-founders haven't raised any money. Instead, they used Instagram.
Scroll through Mindy's Bakeshop's Instagram feed and you'll see holiday sugar cookies shaped like snow globes, mouthwatering golden-crusted pies, and cakes lined with delicate flowers. The couple used the social platform not only to advertise their business to prospective customers, but to also introduce themselves to the community. A recent post showing off holiday cookies with a quote from Home Alone got nearly 1,000 likes on Instagram.