Victoria Blount is from College Park, Georgia, and is a junior at Georgia State University majoring in finance. Her other educational pursuits include a minor in music and an undergraduate certificate in professional sales.
She is a student in the Honors College and part of the Class of 2023 cohort for the Eric J. Joiner Achievement Academy (JAA), a competitive personal and professional signature program in the Robinson College of Business. She is also an active member of LaunchGSU, the student business incubator, and one of 13 founders chosen for the second cohort of the Main Street Entrepreneurs Seed Fund program at Georgia State University.
In March 2018, Victoria founded her company The Cheesecake Specialist which provides specialty cheesecakes to individual and corporate clients. Notable flavors include Honey Lavender, Pumpkin Spice, and Banana Pudding.
Victoria plans to use the knowledge gained in her degree program of finance towards growing her current venture and pursuing her post-graduation goal of being a successful entrepreneur.
In her spare time, she enjoys listening to audiobooks, attempting to guess the puzzles in Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, and playing business-related board games like CASHFLOW®, Monopoly, and Daytrader.
She has competed in several 5Ks, including a race that was on the 5th runway of Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. She hopes to run a marathon one day.
Connect with Victoria on LinkedIn.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- Top-selling products
- Ways do you have to grow your business
- Some of the biggest challenges and one main lesson
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for Atlanta Business Radio brought to you by onpay built in Atlanta. OnPay is the top rated payroll and HR software anywhere. Get one month free at onpay. Now here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:31] Lee Kantor here, another episode of GSU ENI radio, and this is going to be a good one today on the show, we have Victoria Blount, the cheesecake specialist. Welcome, Victoria.
Victoria Blount: [00:00:42] Hi, Lee.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:44] Well, I’m excited to learn what you’re up to. Tell us about the cheesecake specialist. How are you serving, folks?
Victoria Blount: [00:00:49] Okay, so I’m the founder of The Cheesecake Specialists, and it’s, as the name suggests, a specialty cheesecake company. Some of my notable flavors are honey, lavender, German chocolate, banana pudding and more. Currently, I’m looking for a shared kitchen space. I’m just doing some orders from home right now, but I am looking for a space to go into.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:15] So how did you know that your cheesecake was good enough to be have its own business?
Victoria Blount: [00:01:22] So I’ve been baking since I was a child. My love of cheesecake that started in twenty seventeen. I was helping my aunt with her monthly family dinners and each month we would try different cheesecakes along with other desserts as well. And they were probably like 30 plus people who would show up every month. And so they were kind of my first test market and they always love the different cheesecakes we would try. So one of her friends, one of her Spelman classmates, she insisted, I make this honey lavender cheesecake for her 60th birthday and that’s how everything got started.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:00] Now was there something about cheesecake that you like? Because I’m sure you were baking lots of things?
Victoria Blount: [00:02:05] I just like cheesecakes, mainly. I mean, that’s one of my favorite desserts, and I like them because they weren’t. They were kind of different. Not a lot of people are doing cheesecakes. Typically, people do cupcakes and like regular cakes. So I just thought, OK, I got some advice from another relative of mine who said, pick something and kind of stick to it. So I chose cheesecake.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:29] And then when did you start experimenting? Or was that from the very beginning of just instead of kind of the classic cheesecake? And then you just started kind of tweaking it and coming up with your own recipes in your own takes on this?
Victoria Blount: [00:02:42] I start experimenting from the very beginning I have I’m not sure when I even first made a New York style cheesecake, it was probably about a year after I’d started making them.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:54] So do you have as a child like a memory of a cheesecake experience that kind of got you thinking about cheesecake or was it just something that kind of just organically happened?
Victoria Blount: [00:03:05] I have a particular childhood experience. I mean, I’ve always loved cheesecakes in general. Now we didn’t grow up baking them from scratch per say, but I didn’t have a particular experience. It was kind of in twenty seventeen when I just started making them and then I realized I loved it. I loved it, so I just kept going.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:28] Now, when you were learning how to bake it, where were you getting that kind of learning from? Was it like cookbooks or was it YouTube? Or was it just a mentor that kind of showed you how to do it online?
Victoria Blount: [00:03:40] Mainly YouTube and not just videos, but also just reading the recipes and then trying them out and then tweaking them where it made sense. And then my aunt, she’s been baking for decades now, so she also would help me to sew together.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:58] You were kind of experimenting. Did you ever have one where it’s like, This is inedible? This is not going to. No one should have this.
Victoria Blount: [00:04:06] Hmm. That’s a good question. Have I ever had one like that? I tried a peanut butter cheesecake one time years ago, even before my experience with my aunt and. It turned out I burnt the cheesecake, so that’s why it turned out poorly. Maybe it would have been good if I’d done it correctly,
Lee Kantor: [00:04:30] But baking is one of those things that’s almost like chemistry, right? Like you can’t. It’s not like in some cooking, you can just kind of wing stuff, but this is very precise in how you kind of mix the ingredients and the ratios and things like that.
Victoria Blount: [00:04:43] You know, everybody says that every time I say that, I bake. That’s kind of the response. I get baking. It’s not like cooking. It’s very precise. It’s more like science. And there’s truth to that. But there is. There’s more room to experiment within baking than you think. Like, I can change the amount of eggs in a recipe and it’s not going to affect it too much. I can shift things around like the sour cream ratio, so it is definitely more precise than typical cooking. But you do have some freedom.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:15] And then when you have an idea, how do you test it? Do you have like kind of trusted people? You’re like, Hey, I got this idea? Why don’t you give me your take on it? Or do you just kind of just throw it out there and make it available?
Victoria Blount: [00:05:30] A combination of both of those things, so I’m. Kind of looking up recipes and tweaking them and whatnot as well, so I know just based off of some of the comments and whatnot. Ok. This should be OK. Then I changed it a little bit. And then I test it out with my family first. But then I also just make it available and see the reaction to it.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:57] Now, do you remember, like kind of that first big sale where it was like, wow, that was a decent amount of money for this? This could be something.
Victoria Blount: [00:06:06] The first big sale, I would say. Here’s what I’m thinking of in particular, but it wasn’t the first one, I’ll say the first one was with the City of College Park. They were doing this event and bringing in a bunch of business people to look at some real estate, this space that they were trying to sell sell. And they wanted me to do seventy five mini cheesecakes and then a complimentary 10 inch for the special guest of honor as well. So that was like my first big sale, which was several hundred dollars. And I’m like, OK, yeah, this could be something.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:48] And then did you have to like when you’re making, you know, one or two? That’s that process is one thing. But when you’re making seventy five of something, that’s a different process, right? Like that that requires a different kind of organization. And then kind of production was was that a difficult transition for you or was that something like, OK, I just got to start earlier and just start cranking these out?
Victoria Blount: [00:07:13] So I currently offer two sizes of cheesecakes, I offer this full typical 10 inch size and then I do mini cheesecakes as well, which are kind of like cupcake size and with Minis, I always kind of have to do a dozen of each flavor. So even if I am doing a smaller so, my order size right now doesn’t go beyond like half a dozen go below that currently, unless, like, I’m doing like a special event and just offering samples. But so because I’m making a dozen always, it wasn’t so difficult to do seventy five, but it was still more than what I had done at that point.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:56] And then, like you said earlier that you’re making this now transition to get into a commercial kitchen and that kind of environment is, is that just part of the kind of organic growth you’re getting to a point where that’s necessary now in order because of the demand?
Victoria Blount: [00:08:14] Yes. It’s also necessary, so it’s necessary for growth for sure, like my refrigerator, the most cheesecakes I’ve ever made was two hundred and forty for the Atlanta Children’s Shelter. Wow, that was definitely at capacity. My refrigerator space at home. So yes, it’s definitely necessary for growth, but it’s also necessary for just licensing purposes and to be legitimate as well. So. Yeah, the commercial kitchen space is something I’ve been looking for for a while now.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:49] And then how did you get involved with the Main Street Entrepreneurship Seed Fund?
Victoria Blount: [00:08:56] So this is the second time around the second cohort that they’ve done for this program, and I knew about it the first time they did it. I didn’t apply this, so I had like just gotten into Georgia State at the time and I just thought, OK, it’s going to be too much if I apply for this program, along with just trying to learn the ropes as a college student. So I went to their demo day, though, for the first cohort and then, I mean, I was really impressed. So the second time around I saw it, I think the application I saw it around January of this year, I applied in February was we went through two application rounds. So just a written application and whatnot, which was reviewed by people at Georgia State internally. And then we went through a pitch round which we and we were pitching to outside entrepreneurs and investors. And after that, I was chosen as one of the 13 companies in March.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:00] Wow, congratulations. I mean, that’s what did you what have you learned most about having that kind of structure around your business?
Victoria Blount: [00:10:09] I have learned what have I learned most? Definitely focusing on the customer, which sounds so obvious when you think about it, but the average business person who goes into starting a business doesn’t really do that. They have an idea and they kind of look to validate that idea, though we had like a couple of workshops at the very beginning on customer discovery and focusing on like, who do you even want to serve in the first place? Think about that and then start from there and figure out what they want, what they need and try to find authentic demand for your offering and then tweak it. And because we had to design thinking workshop as well, like continue to innovate on it, to continue to serve them. So that was the main thing, just a shift in mindset and also just being around other student entrepreneurs and like an alumni and just, you know, kind of knowing that we’re all in this together and being able to talk to them about my experience, our experiences.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:22] Now has your customer today the same as it was when you started? Or is it it sounds like you’re doing a lot of work for groups and organizations that maybe, you know, not the individual consumer who buys the cheesecake.
Victoria Blount: [00:11:36] Yeah, so my customers starting out was definitely individual clients, mainly middle aged and older women. And then I still do that, but I have done more like more larger orders for organizations and whatnot. I am looking since I am a college student. I am looking to sell to college students starting at Georgia State. Of course, since we just got back on campus, I haven’t gotten that off the ground yet, but that is something that’s the market I’m looking to expand to.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:12] So you’re looking to create a product or just take one of your existing products and offer it to students?
Victoria Blount: [00:12:20] Well, I do want to create another size, maybe like a personal size kind of like how you have personal pan pizzas, maybe something like that for students and even vegan options, potentially since I’ve been asked about that quite a bit. So it could be an existing product that I tweak a little bit for students. It could be something new.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:42] Now, what’s been the most rewarding part of this adventure for you, because I mean, you’re in school, probably when you started, you were thinking, I’ll get go to school, get a degree, get a job and then now you got this thing going and it seems like it’s taking on a life of its own. So how do you kind of balance that?
Victoria Blount: [00:13:00] I was a great question lately, just very little sleep. We’re preparing for a demo day, which is coming up on Thursday. So but in general, I think it’s somewhat like picking days to focus on different things and also using like time blocking and just giving myself a certain amount of time for task. Because in my professional skills class, one thing we talked about is that a task will extend to the amount of time you get it. So if you give something five hours, it’s going to take you five hours to do that. So I just have to be very organized with my time to balance everything. Yeah. As far as your original question, like what’s been the most rewarding part of all of this? I think just the learning in like the growth of it all and just pushing myself and seeing what I’m capable of. It’s far greater than what I would have thought years ago at this point. So I think that’s the most rewarding for me now.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:06] Has your experience at Georgia State been what you anticipated being or is it? I mean, it sounds like it’s really stretching you in terms of maybe how you saw yourself initially and what you’re becoming.
Victoria Blount: [00:14:23] No, I mean, I knew Georgia State, I wanted to stay in state from from metro Atlanta just so I could kind of do the business and go to school at the same time. I knew Georgia State would provide me with a lot of options and I knew college in general. I was homeschooled, so I knew college in general would provide me with a lot of structure and structure that would help me just kind of stay organized and stay accountable and whatnot. But I didn’t anticipate, I didn’t anticipate all of the entrepreneurial resources that Georgia state has in the like the high quality level of them. They’re still fairly young and fairly new, but they are really high quality. So I’ve definitely gotten way more out of school than I thought I would. I didn’t think I would go to school and like, talk about entrepreneurship. I thought it was something I would kind of do on my own. On the side, I didn’t think there would be a community just available through my university to in resources, through my university to help me on this journey.
Lee Kantor: [00:15:25] So now in the growth of your business, is there kind of best selling cheesecakes that people are kind of demanding over and over again? You have kind of your people’s favorites.
Victoria Blount: [00:15:38] Yeah, people really love the assorted minis, which is just a dozen and a variety of pack of minis. And usually those flavors will be like red velvet, key lime, Oreo, honey, lavender as well. And then people as far as 10 inches. The turtle is really popular in the honey. Lavender is popular as well.
Lee Kantor: [00:16:01] Now if are they available for sale right now or is this something that you kind of special order whenever somebody comes to you and say, Hey, I need six or 10 or one hundred, then you just kind of serve them that way? Or is it like, can somebody go to a website in order one right now?
Victoria Blount: [00:16:19] Right now, my website is up, I’m not taking orders through it currently, so my website is cheesecake specialists. You can sign up for the email list and I’m hoping to actually launch like an online ordering system in the next month or two. Currently, I take orders more like on a case, not on a case by case basis, but on an individual basis. So you can also email me at orders. Cheesecake specialist at gmail.com or ordering.
Lee Kantor: [00:16:55] And then they can say, Hey, I got this event, I got like a family reunion, I’d love for everybody to have a cheesecake and then you kind of just
Victoria Blount: [00:17:03] Work out the dates, how many want and my Instagram, if you want to see pictures of them, is at cheesecake specialist. So.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:13] Well, congratulations on all the success. It’s exciting time.
Victoria Blount: [00:17:17] Thank you, thank you so much.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:19] And then so once again, it’s cheesecake specialist to get on your mailing list or wait list if they are ready. At some point, you’re going to have the website up and running, so anybody on that list will probably be notified that, hey, you can order that right?
Victoria Blount: [00:17:35] Yes. Yeah, that’s how it will go.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:38] Well, thank you so much for sharing your story. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you.
Victoria Blount: [00:17:43] Thank you so much. I appreciate this interview.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:46] All right, this is Lee Kantor. We’ll see you next time on GSU. Any radio?
About Our Sponsor
OnPay’s payroll services and HR software give you more time to focus on what’s most important. Rated “Excellent” by PC Magazine, we make it easy to pay employees fast, we automate all payroll taxes, and we even keep all your HR and benefits organized and compliant.
Our award-winning customer service includes an accuracy guarantee, deep integrations with popular accounting software, and we’ll even enter all your employee information for you — whether you have five employees or 500. Take a closer look to see all the ways we can save you time and money in the back office.