Empowering People
& Revitalizing the Community

A Moment with our WBA Graduate- Meet Shaheerah Fardan- Ali

Posted on 8/29/2019 by EDTP Coordinator in LAEDA News

Shaheerah Fardan- Ali is the owner and operator of Diary of a Cupcake, LLC and a graduate of the Women's Business Academy. We had a chance to sit down with her to ask about her experience with entrepreneurship and LAEDA's WBA training program.

(1) LAEDA: Entrepreneurship is a very challenging path to take with many different possible directions. What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?

My dad has an entrepreneurial spirit. He never gives up! For him, and like me, working for other people didn’t always work out. Jobs always had a way of pushing us into the direction of working for ourselves, whether it was a gentle nudge, or a divine shove! So we made our own way. He was the first person to show me how to bounce back, how to hustle hard for you, and how our gifts could be used to take care of those around me, and how to be self-reliant. Growing up, he always had a "hustle". He is a baker so whenever my family needed money, he would bake his famous Bean Pies, cakes, cookies, or bread and sold them to local businesses. I, along with my brothers, sisters, and many of our friends grew up vending at festivals with him, delivering treats, and staying up late on school nights icing cakes and wrapping treats. So you could say, it chose me. My brothers, sisters and many of our close friends even credit him in inspiring them to be entrepreneurs, as well.

(2) LAEDA: Why did you choose your industry?

I've been cooking my whole life; it is something that comes naturally to me. So I figured, why not become a chef? While I was in culinary school, I realized how stressful being a chef could be. I loved it, but I didn’t want to resent it. Baking classes actually were slower paced and actually relaxed me. Baking is precise, routine, and at times, tedious…you pretty much use the same ingredients, in different ways to create something. I craved that sense of routine, order, and discipline. I found that it was cathartic for me.

(3) LAEDA: Tell me about your experience while attending WBA. What have the major takeaways been from the program? Have you had any “Ah-ha!” moments? How did the program help you?

Marketing and branding!! The techniques that we learned in the Marketing course have really helped me to get my business out there. I actually brought my cupcakes in for the class to taste and the instructors said, "That's the best way to market your product!” I've been bringing them with me ever since!

(4) LAEDA: Tell me about your journey on the road to business start-up. What have been some of the challenges, successes, failures, etc.?

Where do I begin? The main challenge has been balancing life and business. When you start going after your dream, all kinds of distractions can come from every direction. Balancing business and life is a constant challenge, but it's possible. My calendar app is a lifesaver! I also quit my job about a year ago to focus on my business full-time. That was and still is a huge challenge financially. But I was spreading myself too thin and putting a lot of energy into my job, instead of in my business, where I was actually getting something greater in return for my efforts! It was the best decision for me at the time, and I was in a position to do so because of my support system. That’s important.

I've had a ton of success getting my business out there through social media and community events. Just showing up to the things that I love and care about and being an active member in my community has opened so many doors for my business, while helping me grow into the person that I want to be.

(5) LAEDA: Could you tell me a little about where your business is today?

Today I am operating my business from a commercial kitchen that I rent space in for large events and working on raising funds to take my business on the road. Our goal is to have a food truck in the next 2-3 years and to then expand into a storefront. Staying close to my vending roots and being where the customers are important to me. I've been really focusing on branding and getting our cupcakes in the customer’s hands (and mouths). I have done events for a few celebrities and local radio hosts. Things are going well, but it is not easy!

(6) LAEDA: Do you have any advice for future (or existing) entrepreneurs?

You don’t have to be like everyone else in order to succeed. Be true to yourself. Everyone has something unique to offer the world, and that’s what you are here for. If you haven't found your thing yet, just put the intention to find it out there, and it will come to you. Chances are, you're probably already doing it, but haven't yet figured out how to turn it into a business.

Congratulations to Shaheerah Fardan- Ali for completing WBA and recommitting to her journey on the path of entrepreneurship. Her company, Diary of a Cupcake, LLC is a home-based business operating in Willingboro, NJ, and was founded in 2016 by owner, Shaheerah Fardan-Ali. Diary of a Cupcake specializes in unique cupcakes, and also reinvents popular, traditional desserts in cupcake form. Being around cooks and bakers her whole life, Shaheerah joined the ranks by taking what she learned and channeling her energy into baking cupcakes, after coming out of a dark period in her life. She used baking and her business as her "Diary" and infuses her experiences into her cupcakes which she calls her "entries", and in 2016, she decided to share her journey with the world.

Diary of a Cupcake has become a staple in the community, creating special moments for weddings, birthdays, special events, vending events, community service, and customers have also included celebrities and local radio host. Diary of a Cupcake offers unique cupcakes and reinvents popular, traditional desserts in cupcake form, for example, Banana Pudding cupcakes, Peach Cobbler cupcakes, and Red Velvet Cheesecake cupcakes. For more information, contact Shaheerah Fardan-Ali via telephone at (609) 332-2940, via email at adiaryofacupcake@gmail.com, via Instagram at @mydiaryofacupcake and via Facebook at Facebook.com/diaryofaCupcake.

The Women's Business Academy (WBA) is a free, nine-week business skills training course offered in Camden, NJ in the Winter each year. Qualified entrepreneurs receive 72+ hours of training from industry professionals, business planning, and technical assistance. Apply online at www.LAEDAWBC.com.