Started as a side project in March 2020, Tiana Mutts has grown Tiana’s Cheesecake Wonders into a successful online business in the last three years. We talked to her about her journey as a small business owner and her plans for the future.
When and how did Tiana’s Cheesecake Wonders get started?
Cheesecake has always been one of my favorite desserts but eating it from other places would always be a hit or miss so I make it myself. It wasn’t until COVID forced us indoors that my husband and I decided that it would be a good idea if I made cheesecake jars. These were my favorite things to make for desserts and I made them pretty often. This day, I made about 30 big jars and made them look as presentable as possible. My husband does photography and wanted me to make the jars so that he could practice product photography. After we had finished with the pictures, I realized that he and I could not consume 30 jars, so I made a post on social media to sell them. I figured it made sense to try and get a little of the money back that I had spent.
What was the result?
I didn’t expect to sell out of them within a couple of hours. The following day, I made more. I would say about 50-plus. Those sold out just as fast and I still had people asking me for more. This is when the idea of potentially turning it into a business came about. Coming to the realization that I had a product that people wanted and were already starting to enjoy had given me the motivation to continue to grow what I had started.
How many flavors do you currently have?
I started out with my two famous flavors—strawberry crunch and cookies and cream— which grew into 13-plus different flavors, not including the cheesecakes cakes that can be cut into slices. I didn’t stop there, though.
Really? What happened next? Did you come up with more products?
I eventually began adding baked goods such as cookies, brownies, muffins, and many more items. I now have even been dabbling a little with cake decorating and for-see more of that in the very near future.
What’s your best flavor?
It really depends on the person. My clients who love fruit tend to go for the peach cobbler. The overall favorite flavor is the strawberry crunch, which can be compared to the strawberry crunch ice cream bar, but in cheesecake form. It is amazing!
How often are you experimenting with new flavors? What goes into that?
I experiment with flavors maybe once a month as far as the cheesecake jars are concerned. With other items, I’m constantly trying something new. My most recent experiment involved soft red velvet cookies with white chocolate chips.
What’s your best-selling item and why do you think it’s so popular?
My best-selling item would have to be the strawberry crunch jar and the brown butter chocolate chip cookies. It is honestly a tie between the two.
Have you had to change anything about your business since you started due to things “getting back to normal” after the height of the pandemic?
The main thing that I have had to change within my business is pricing. Many of the goods I use for my business have tripled or even quadrupled in price since I started Tiana’s Cheesecake Wonders. With the increase in prices, I have also had to raise mine to attempt to keep up with the rising costs which in turn affects having a consistent price. The biggest struggle I face is wanting to keep my goods as affordable as possible. With the quick rise in costs, I have had to adjust more frequently than I would like to.
Do you have any big plans for your business for 2023 and beyond?
I have already begun to book more events for catering and plan on making more cakes. I plan on just continuing to grow my skills within baking and seeing how far it can take me.