There’s something to be said about a person who carries multiple titles at any given time – and one thing you could say about Cheryl Ross, 47, is that she’s a boss. In addition to wearing many hats, the self-described multihyphenate has mastered one important entrepreneurial skill; the power of the pivot.
The ability to predict and implement a gearshift in business is helping Ross to build the life she’s always wanted as well as leave a legacy for her children.
Once the visionary behind The Queen’s Gathering, a group that hosted events aimed empowering Black women, Ross also owned and operated a hair-braiding business, Protected by Ross. In 2020, the full-time mom of two and licensed dental hygienist added a luxury home-baking operation, Baked by Ross, to her growing list of accomplishments.
Baked by Ross offers dessert specialties, including cakes, cupcakes, cheesecakes, macarons, and treat boxes.
Love at first bite
When the pandemic began in March 2020, Ross decided to end her high-contact hair-braiding business in for something that would be safer for her children.
And to combat stress and early pandemic anxiety, Ross began baking with her 23-year old daughter, Nahla.
What started as baking bread and experimenting with new recipes grew to a deeper interest.
“I didn’t want to bore my followers on my [personal Instagram] page, so I created a new one,” Ross said. “I asked people to follow that page if they wanted to keep up with my baking journey. By May of that year, I started playing around with cakes, and when Mother’s Day rolled around, people were asking if I could make cakes for their moms.”
That’s when Ross knew she’d found her sweet spot; Baked by Ross was born.
On the menu
Ross said she likes to keep it traditional when it comes to cake options, but customers can expect elevated presentation.
“I like to offer the classic flavors such as chocolate, vanilla, red velvet and strawberry shortcake,” she said. “But the look is going to be luxe.”
“You’re not going to get the crumbled red velvet on top of the cake just because it’s red velvet; you’re going to have to cut into a cake to know what the flavor is.”
Some of her favorites menu items include the buttercream celebration cake, her Luxe Cupcakes, and her macarons.
“I love doing macarons,” Ross told QCity Metro. “Most people see them as challenging to make, but I’m at the point in my journey where I can consistently make good ones. You don’t want to get too cocky about macarons, though, because the moment you do, you won’t have any feet on yours,” she said, laughing.
No two entrepreneurs are the same
Like many entrepreneurs, Ross faced difficulty with navigating the post-pandemic economy. While some entrepreneurs were able to maintain their full-time business pursuits, Ross said she wants others to know that returning to work while running a business is okay.
With fluctuating product costs and the uncertainty of steady income, Ross returned to her previous career as a dental hygienist this year. She said she made the decision to help both her business and her family flourish.
“One of the things I’m most proud of is my ability to pivot,” she said. “I was doing braids, and when the pandemic hit, I reevaluated everything. If I determine something isn’t going to be sustainable, I make changes quickly.”
Her advice to others looking to step into entrepreneurship?
“I would tell anyone who wants to become an entrepreneur to do it but proceed with caution,” she said. “The journey is not as glamorous as some social media content will make you believe. The pros are having the freedom and flexibility to move around for your business, but it’s a rollercoaster – and the stability, and the money, won’t always be there.”
Ross also encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to have a plan.
Part of her plan includes support from her eldest daughter.
“What most people don’t know is just how much Nahla helps me,” Ross said. “She’s really stepped up, which allows me to [operate Baked By Ross] and work as a hygienist. She handles most of the baking, and I do the decorating.”
Looking to the future
While Ross said she has no plans to expand to a brick-and-mortar location, she challenges herself each day by asking one relevant question: What are you creating today for your future?
“We can’t just talk about what we want to do. We have to make those changes every day to become the future version of ourselves that we envision,” she said.
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