Netflix ‘Is it Cake’ contestant Justin Ellen makes 6-figures in business


When Justin Ellen received a “random” direct message on Instagram asking if he would like to be aspect of a Netflix show referred to as “Is It Cake?” — he imagined it was “incredibly sketchy.”

It was only when they claimed there was an interview that he realized, “Okay, it is legit,” said the youngest contestant of the well-known baking present.

Soon after a Zoom job interview and a month of waiting around, Ellen — who was 18 at that time — was picked to participate.

It was very overpowering, he admitted.

“Since I was tremendous younger … and I understood I had to fly and stay in a resort by myself. Filming was a complete month. I have hardly ever been away from my spouse and children for that lengthy,” he advised CNBC Make It.

Ellen even experienced to skip his large college graduation for the show’s recording.

“Is It Cake?” is a baking contest, where cake artists produce edible replicas of day-to-day objects — this kind of as sneakers and handbags.

At to start with glance, the 19-12 months-aged did not feel to have as a lot working experience as the other contestants. The youthful baker only begun making hyper-real looking cakes two many years back. One particular of his opponents started baking even in advance of Ellen was born.

Nevertheless, prior to showing up on Netflix, he was by now jogging his very own effective cake enterprise, Anything Just Baked.

I recognized that I didn’t have to consider tiny. There’s so a lot you could do in the area … imagine about each lane you could go into.

Justin Ellen

Operator, Almost everything Just Baked

“Last 12 months, we grossed $100,000 in sales,” claimed Ellen, who is from New Jersey.

“With [the] Netflix [show] coming out, I’ve been receiving like a large amount additional inquiries … my calendar is flooded. I am tremendous grateful for it.”

Difficult do the job and failure

Ellen figured out how to bake from his mom and grandmother when he was just 7 several years previous. They used to bake together in the course of holidays like Thanksgiving.

From breads, to pies and cookies, they baked all the things — but unusually, “under no circumstances cakes.”

Justin Ellen started baking with his mum since he was 7 decades outdated.

Justin Ellen

But he quickly outgrew currently being an assistant and when he was 14, went down the rabbit hole of cake tutorial videos on YouTube and received motivated to start his individual creations.

“I just viewed films of other folks carrying out it, YouTube’s a wonderful detail. You just bought to truly observe and acquire the time to find out,” he told CNBC Make It.

“I have unsuccessful a whole lot of moments … I will consider it really is this sort of an simple cake and then everything’s heading incorrect.”

But, Ellen was undeterred. He was in superior school when he commenced immersing himself into baking — which was “absolutely really hard” mainly because he did not have a lot of free time on his hands. He recalls getting part in a baking competitors and having to college at 5 a.m. to follow.

“I was super occupied. [But] if you happen to be actually decided, you are going to obtain the time,” stated Ellen.

Realizing your value

The most important challenge Ellen faced as a young entrepreneur was realizing his worth — he was pricing his cakes like he was buying with his personal wallet.

“Back again then, I failed to notice how important my art is. I requested my mom and my mom’s just like me, she’s inexpensive. Like, ‘I’m not likely to get a $100 cake.’ But right now, people are conveniently shelling out that.”

In the early days of the organization, Justin Ellen was promoting a six-inch cake for $60, but now it is “quickly $150 for the very same size.”

Justin Ellen

When he first begun, he was providing a six-inch cake for $60, but now it really is “simply $150 for the similar sizing.”  

From January this year, he commenced earning up to $12,000 a thirty day period right after jogging his enterprise comprehensive-time.

Art is super precious and individuals will pay out for it. Actually, my price tag a little bit goes up each and every working day … relying on my mood.

Justin Ellen

Owner, All the things Just Baked

“I realized persons are getting designer purses for 1000’s of pounds. You have acquired to make your consumers understand the truly worth in your model and what you’re delivering them due to the fact the cake preferences wonderful and [I] use superior-high-quality ingredients.”

Even though the price ranges of his cakes have a lot more than doubled in price more than the years, that has not stopped him from setting up a “quite successful company.”

“Artwork is super worthwhile and folks will shell out for it. Actually, my selling price a little goes up each day … depending on my mood,” he stated.

And if a shopper asks why his cakes costs this significantly? “I’ll just be sincere and say, every single working day I development in my ability, so the cost has to go up. You are shelling out for someone’s expertise … it took me 5 yrs to understand how to do that.”

No stopping now

Dreaming large has definitely compensated off for Ellen. What he envisioned for himself came accurate — he now sells cake mixes and baking resources online. Occasionally, he holds lessons for aspiring bakers way too.

Ellen additional that he accepts all around 6 orders a 7 days and they are “bigger orders now.” On a usual working day, he would be up at 8am, functioning on his orders in his house kitchen area solitary-handedly.

“Actually, most of my purchasers don’t decide on hyper-reasonable cakes, they are far more like marriage ceremony cakes.”

His dad and mom are now “certainly certain” that he has built the right decision to pursue baking as a profession — in reality, Ellen, who started off as an assistant in the kitchen area, is now t
he manager.

“My mum functions for me now,” he stated gleefully. “She assists me a whole lot with the backend stuff … like deliveries.”

Even as he marvels at what he has been capable to execute at just 19 decades outdated, the youthful entrepreneur is not accomplished dreaming.

It really is likely to acquire a large amount of time. But in the finish, you are going to comprehend it truly is entirely really worth it.

Justin Ellen

Operator, Anything Just Baked

“Non-cease, I am contemplating about my organization and new means to elevate it. I want to have an appointment-dependent studio … but my closing goal is to be like Wilton, the cake decorating organization.”

Headquartered in Illinois, Wilton produces a huge assortment of bakeware, decorations, baking tools and substances that are popular among the bakers.

“My target is to be just like that … [Everything Just Baked] is minority-owned, black-owned and I assume we have to have representation mainly because there’s like no main minority brand names in the baking group.”


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