Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food & beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Julie Middelstadt, Owner of Sinful Confections, located in Portland, OR, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I own a bakery in SW Portland dedicated to gluten-free treats and savory delights that contain no dairy. I also strive to make most items completely vegan as well. While my focus is to provide a gluten-free and vegan option for those with food allergies, my goal is to create a delicious product that everyone can enjoy, even those who may not have any food allergies.

Tell us about yourself

Married to my wonderful husband and mother to my three amazing girls, I enjoyed cooking healthy home meals for them. Ironically, I didn't uncover my passion for baking until later, when I discovered my intolerance for gluten and dairy. In addition, I learned that my kids and some of their friends also had specific food allergies.

So, I began baking my cupcakes gluten-free and dairy-free. They seemed to be a big hit among family and friends, and from there, I was encouraged to sell them at farmers' markets. I soon discovered that so many others out there loved baked goods but couldn't indulge in any because of their food allergies. Over the years, I have turned my little hobby into a family-owned and operated business.

My two most significant motivating factors are my family and my customers. To provide for my family and inspire my three girls, you can find their passion and make it happen through hard work and dedication. That you can become whatever you want, even a business owner. In addition, you can provide a solution for others and, in my case, a delicious treatment option for those with food allergies.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I think one of my most significant accomplishments is getting to the point where I could open a beautiful storefront location. Just having a physical location, one with a giant light-up Sinful Confections sign outside, and walking through the front doors every morning and seeing a cute little bakery inside is still surreal.

From all the years of baking in small spaces, to countless farmers markets on many weeks of the year, to hauling products around the Portland metro area, to finally a spot I can call home. It's probably my biggest accomplishment, but I didn't get there by myself, that's for sure.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Do not give up! I know that sounds cliche, and it applies to not just business owners. Still, as a business owner, you're responsible for everything. In most cases, if you're a small business owner, you will encounter numerous unforeseen roadblocks. I think there's this notion that being a business owner is nothing but rainbows and lollipops.

I can assure you that you will encounter obstacles standing in your way, and sometimes you feel like you can't overcome them. It would be easier to throw in the towel and call it quits. It's these types of situations when I go back to what my motivating factors are. Those always help me push through any obstacle.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Don't be afraid to fail. Starting a business is undoubtedly daunting, and creating one is always a risk. Still, there are risks, whether you're in business for yourself or someone else. If you have uncovered your passion, discovered your motivation(s), and provided a viable solution through a product or service, I would encourage you to consider seriously starting your own business.
  2. Seek knowledge and develop relationships! Connect with other business owners, in and out of your industry, to gain knowledge and wisdom. This will require you to ask many questions and listen to what other business owners say. Most small business owners will want you to succeed, and many have best practices that could save you time and money. Knowledge is power, and learning from other people's experiences could be a lifesaver.
  3. Value your customers! Customers create the demand for your product or service, and without them, you're all but guaranteed to fail. Your business should revolve around your customers and the service you provide them. While I have learned over the years that I may not make every customer 100% happy, I am sure I will try my best. Every customer deserves your best service. One of my favorite parts of being a small business owner is the connections I have made with many of my customers, and It's one of the most rewarding aspects of being a small business owner. I cannot stress how important it is to treat your customers right. If you do this, you are indeed on your way to becoming a successful business owner.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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