Y’all have you ever seen food so good that you felt like you could taste it? If not boy do I have a treat for you! I stumbled across the Cheesecake Empori-Yum through social media and I just could not stop looking at all the delicious delicacies. Then when I saw who was behind the delights I just had to know more. Without further ado please meet Monique…
Let’s talk a little about your history with baking. Baking tends to make some people very nervous (there seems to definitely be a science to it), what attracted you to this field?
My mother is a great baker and first introduced me to it. I love baking because for me it’s very therapeutic and it helps foster my creativity. Plus I love being able to use this gift that I have to make people smile!
What were the steps from turning this interest and passion into a full fledged business? Do you remember who your first customer was and what that feeling felt like to officially open?
When I came to the decision that, yea, this is it. The real trouble came from finding a commercial kitchen. I knew I wanted to start small with pop up shops to build my clientele, but in order to do saw lawfully, I needed a commercial kitchen which are scarce in this city. I found the commercial space I have now for rent on Facebook, and I stalked my landlord for weeks, trying to get him to respond to me lol . He eventually did and it began a great partnership!
My first pop up shop was Wednesday Jan 20th 2016. Our first customers were a group of ladies that saw me the Monday before eating out and I gave them a flyer lol. I did weekly pop up shops for about a year, until the need for me to be open everyday arose. I then asked my landlord for a spare room that he was using for storage and he said yes! We opened our storefront on March 17th 2018. It was an amazing feeling that day. It’s the accumulation of years of hard work, coming together and creating the dream that has been in your head and your heart for so long. It’s a blessing
The name Cheesecake Empori-yum….I absolutely love it! How did you come up with that name and what image were your trying to convey to potential customers?
Lol, thank you! I went to college in Tuscaloosa, AL (ROLL TIDE) and there is a store there call the University Emporium. I would love to go there and look around because it would be filled with all the Knick knacks and trinkets. I looked up the definition for Emporium and I fell in love with it. Emporium means a retail space where a variety of the same things are sold. It was perfect for what I did. I made a variety of desserts revolving around cheesecakes, to me it conveys a sense for fun, creativity, and home. I want when someone comes to my shop to feel like it’s a place where they can be excited over dessert and the possibilities of what that dessert can be!
This maybe a bit like asking you who is your favorite child, but… do you have a “favorite” dish? If so what is it, if not why not?
Lol, My absolute favorite is plain, original cheesecake with strawberries. I know that’s crazy to say but its true. I’m a simple woman when it comes to my desserts, vanilla cupcakes, sugar cookies, and original cheesecake lol
Give us three things you wish you had learned before getting started.
1. Don’t save you gas receipts, count your miles. It’ll add up to being more $$ during tax time
2. Grease Traps are a real thing, and they will make you rethink having your own business when it’s time to clean them. And never be around an open trap after just eating lol
3. You will meet customers and you will never be able to make them happy. No matter what you do or so. Smile, Pray for them and move on.
Who is your support system? What are some ways they show you the support you need?
My support system consist of my family and friends. They have been there for me since day one! My family is there to work events or errands if I need them. My friends are the best promoters I know. They are the first ones telling people about what I do, and my dreams, and willing to pitch in for free when necessary. Now they will whine about it first, but they will still be there lol.
Passion versus career, this is a sticky spot for many in our age group. How did you know it was time to follow your passion?
I got fired lol! I was very complacent where I was, and very scared to take that leap and I was let go and I thought to myself well, this is my sign. Let’s do this!
What are some ways you give back?
I love speaking with children and other women about pursuing their passions and the real reality of it. It’s no walk in the park lol. And anywhere, that I can give away desserts, and eat some too is always a fun way to give back. We are vendors every year at the Taste of the River Region and The Birmingham Mac and Cheese Festival. Plus weekly, I teach a group of high schools girls all about baking and owning a small business.
Tell us about self-care starting a business takes a lot out of you. How do you know when you need a break? What are some way you recharge?
I have a tendency to push myself even when I know I need a break. I always feel compelled to do more or accomplish that before I take a break and relax. I know when I’ve done to much when my brain is just so wired that I can’t think. Then I know its time to sit down, breathe, pray, and recharge. I’ve recently gotten back in the gym and that has really helped me destress after a long day. Plus, baking every morning alone in my kitchen is the best therapy for me. I love being there, alone, in my element, with the music blasting lol.
What’s your ultimate goal with your business? How can we best support you?
My ultimate goal is to become the Oprah of cheesecakes! Lord willing, I will be opening a dessert bar sometime in 2019, and expanding my business into to grocery and convenience stores. Eventually, opening expanding my brand throughout the Southeast. Cookbooks, merchandise, cooking shows, the whole nine. I always told myself if I was truly gonna do this, then I wouldn’t stop until I’ve accomplished my wildest dreams and I won’t!
The best way to support, is to visit us at our shop. 1935 Mulberry St. 36106. We are 6 days a week, only closed on Sunday. Come say hi, tray a slice a cheesecake, and tell us what you think! You can also follow us on Instagram @cheesecakeempori_yum or on Facebook @TheCheesecakeEmporiYum We are constantly vending around the area and debuting new cheesecakes. Lastly, if you know anyone who loves cheesecakes, let them know there is a cheesecake shop in Montgomery ♥️
If you’re in Montgomery, please stop by! I know I will.