To kick off The Shades of Success’ interview series, we present to you Margo T. Lewis, an NYC-born and raised entrepreneur, who, through hard work and dedication, has become a nationally recognized name in the cake creation and event production industries. Currently, Margo independently runs Cake Bliss Couture Cakes, MTL Productions, which includes Blissful Flowers and Events (for social clients) and Spin 7 Events (for corporate clients) and Dahlia’s Cafe, a boutique bistro located on Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Recently, we caught up with Margo, who was gracious enough to take some time from her jam-packed schedule to answer a few of our questions and give us a peek in to her world and how she established as one of the best in her business.
Thank you for speaking with us! First off, can you tell us a little about yourself?
MTL: I grew up in Queens, N.Y. and attended St. Pascal’s Elementary School, where I was classmates with Run DMC. I attended Dominican Commercial High School, obtained my Bachelor’s Degree from Pace University and earned my Master’s Degree in Media Communications and Film Production from New School University. I currently reside in Fort Greene, Brooklyn where I run my three businesses.
How did you originally get into designing cakes for events and producing events? Was this what you always wanted to do?
MTL: I have always enjoyed entertaining and “setting up” for special occasions and events. In the beginning, my mother baked the cakes, but after I begged her long enough, she allowed me to frost and ultimately bake my own cakes. Whenever we would have company over, I insisted on bringing out the “special china” even though it meant I would have to do the dishes.
Can you describe for us the process of meeting with clients and designing an event or cake that suits their needs?
MTL: Depending on the client, we will come up with a design plan based on their goals. A whole design plan can stem from something as simple as a color scheme or favorite flower. It can also be based off the reason for the event, be it a new product launch or to showcase their corporate DNA or identity. Sometimes after a meeting, we discover they didn’t even need an event after all. It is all about getting to know your client and fully understanding what their exact needs are.
How do you gain new clients?
MTL: Many of my clients have either heard about my services or have actually seen and eaten some of my cakes at an event they previously attended. We also constantly produce promotional events in stores such as Crate & Barrel, Macy’s and William and Sonoma, as well as charitable events like The American Cancer Society’s Eat, Drink and Be Hopeful fundraising dinner. In addition, we volunteer our design services to many non-profits. The goal is to stay visible while creating meaningful work.
How do you gauge the results of your work?
MTL: We gauge the success of an event or the “tastiness” of a cake through direct client feedback and our levels of repeated business and customer referrals; a happy customer will almost always return.
You have such a full plate on your hands! Are you involved in anything outside of cake and event design?
MTL: In addition to my businesses, I manage my real estate investments and operate guest rental services in Downtown Brooklyn. I also have a non-profit organization called 96Magnolia. Our mission is to “Live Well, Live Style, Live Green”, by creating awareness and educating the public on health and wellness.
What is the most rewarding thing about being an entrepreneur?
MTL: As an entrepreneur, I am able to make decisions on and take full ownership of what the business will do and when it will happen. I am able to build my business and brand and watch them grown and flourish.
What is the hardest part of being an entrepreneur?
MTL: Things will go wrong and it is up to you to fix them. Then they will go wrong again and you will have to fix them again. It is the way of things and you will have to take ownership for the good and the bad.
What is your proudest accomplishment.
MTL: The event I am proudest of is one I staged for a very large corporation, which involved building an 11,000 square foot, multi-level viewing deck on the Hudson river so that the 750 attendees could watch the amazing Gucci Fireworks. As for Cake Bliss, we just produced to very special wedding cakes for a philanthropist at the National Building Museum, where Diana Ross serenaded guests after the cake-cutting.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were younger?
MTL: I wish the Margo that started out as an entrepreneur years ago really knew the importance of having a lawyer, a banker and an accountant.
What would be your best piece of advice for budding cake/event designers?
MTL: Make sure your product or services are delivered on time and are of the best possible quality. Keep up to date on the history of events and current event trends and use this to draw inspiration to help you create unique and innovative events. Focus on what your guests’ experience will be from the moment they receive their invitation to the moment the event ends.
What would you be if not a cake and event designer?
MTL: I would love to have been a developer who builds real estate properties.
What is up next for you?
MTL: I would like to build a small boutique hotel which would include a Ms. Dahlia’s Cafe and event space.
We would like to thank Margo for sharing her words of wisdom with us. If you are in the market for a cake for an upcoming special occasion, or need help organizing your next big event, feel free to contact Margo here.