In a world increasingly characterized by digitally-based marketplaces and readily available goods and services, artists are entering the fray to give consumers more convenient access to their creations like never before. One such artist is Dana Johnson who found his niche in the food industry. With sixteen years of industry experience and fruitful experimentation under his belt, Johnson offers eight varieties of bread, an array of pastries and desserts, drip coffee and your favorite espresso creation. His Mexican hot chocolate brownie, s’mores cake, key lime cheese Danish, cappuccino streusel and more bold concoctions like the bacon cinnamon roll are beckoning new customers daily into his recently opened bakery, Sugar Cubed, at the Southern end of the Village of the Arts. To daze you, even more, is the fact that his establishment isn’t like other bakeries with a traditional store-front model. Johnson has advanced the vision and goals of his business to provide goods on-demand varying from cakes and bread to pastries and sweets. As a result, business is booming in the small cottage property. Freshly baked masterful confections to meet your everyday needs like lunch meetings and gifts to special occasions like birthdays and holiday parties can now be accessed on-demand. In the vibrant Bradenton community, Johnson’s modern-day bakery-café is a game-changer.
Johnson started his journey at the Manatee Technical Institute and has worked with the Hyatt Regency in Sarasota and Resort at Longboat Key Club. Still working part-time for MTI, Johnson takes charge of advancing his own business, adding vibrancy and convenience to the local community.
Below you will find the conversation we had with Dana where he describes his passions, why he chose baking, the challenges of running his own business, and why he chose to transcend the traditional store-front model that bakeries have long held.
Q1- Tell us about Sugar Cubed Pastry Lab and what problem did you hone in for solutions via your On-Demand platform?
Company name: Sugar Cubed
Founder/CEO Name: Dana Johnson, CEPC
Country: United States
Sugar Cubed Pastry provides high quality, freshly made pastries, sweets, desserts, and gifts. Our aim was increasing sales volume by providing quick and easy breakfast, snack, and dessert solutions for both business and personal clients. We wanted to provide On-Demand access to an industry that is typically limited in service and scope.
Q2- What is the story behind starting Sugar Cubed Pastry Lab and its journey in the United States?
Sugar Cubed Pastry Lab began nearly 3 years ago as a concept to redefine the idea of a corner bakery. We focus on high quality, fresh, and innovative pastries, cakes, sweets, and breads. After gaining traction with our local community, we were recruited by 1-800-Flowers brand to provide fresh and unique Fruit Bouquets, delivered same-day to our local market. This partnership allowed us to explore the logistics of on-demand delivery concept. We have since refined our vision and goals to provide on-demand pastries, cakes, breads, and sweets on-demand, which is very unique for a bakery. Traditional bakeries operate on a method of baking each morning in preparation of the day’s anticipated customers. Office meetings, business lunches, and gifts are normally required to be ordered in advance to ensure a traditional bakery has an adequate supply. We are breaking that mold by providing access to on-demand ordering and delivery of freshly baked products. Utilizing Tookan, we hope to add additional drivers and employees, in order to create on-demand jobs in our local community and offer income to people who may otherwise not be able to fit into a traditional hourly work schedule.
Q3- Could you shed some light on Sugar Cubed Pastry Lab’s operations & technologies?
We are operating Sugar Cubed Pastry Lab as a passionate team, with every baker taking an interest and love in the products they create. Our menu is highly flexible and seasonal, highlighting what is fresh and themed to various holidays, events, and ourlocal community. Technology also plays a critical role in the success of Sugar Cubed Pastry Lab. Utilizing Tookan for last-mile management and invoicing wholesale customers is amazing. We also rely on Square for mobile and in-store payments, inventory management, and online sales. On the backend, a plethora of apps and services such as ReadySetWork and Snap Attendance handle employee scheduling and time clock management from any Internet-connected device.
Q4- What are the challenges that you’ve faced in your business so far?
Our biggest challenge is advertising our services to local consumers. Once we’ve captured a client, they tend to be regular customers. However, print media has been unable to create the type of traffic that is ideal. Digital advertisements and community events continue to be our main source of advertising.
Q5- How did you overcome the challenges during your journey of getting Sugar Cubed Pastry Lab to where it is now?
Having Tookan to manage outgoing orders has been priceless. By continuing to hone our vision of an on-demand bakery, we have found that it is much easier to plan and execute a wide variety of baked items and sweets within the ideal of offering items delivered on-demand, and much more cost effective than preparing large volumes of items and trying to sell them through a traditional store front model. Becoming on-demand has allowed us to expand exponentially.
Q6- What makes Sugar Cubed Pastry Lab stand out against other competitors (if any)?
Sugar Cubed Pastry Lab is unique in its approach. While competition is very high in the bakery business, utilizing on-demand services such as Tookan has allowed us to overcome challenges and offer innovative solutions that our competitors cannot match. We are developing a scaling model that will grow with minimal investment, whereas our competition is often limited by large equipment and production costs.
Q7- How do you see Sugar Cubed Pastry Lab evolving in coming years?
Building on our model, Sugar Cubed Pastry Lab will expand it’s coverage from our local area, to regional, state, and countrywide in the future. Using the digital tools at our disposal, we will be poised for very rapid growth under a very simple, low entry cost model.
Q8- A word of advice you would like to give to Startups who one day aspire to be where Sugar Cubed Pastry Lab is today?
Every business needs to focus on one passion and execute it with the highest quality in mind. Mistakes will be made, and paths will be changed, but it is important to always move forward and make adjustments when necessary.