Why I Quit My Job To Pursue My Baking Business Full-Time

I just finished my last day at my corporate job. For context to those who only know me as a baker – I studied accounting in college and spent an entire summer studying to get my CPA.

I worked hard to get to where I was in my career. Six and a half years later, I quit my job as a digital client finance manager at one of top public relations agencies in New York.

Did I Hate My Job?

Did I hate my job? Did I have a terrible boss? Was my work boring?? Not at all! My situation at work could not have been more ideal for me. It combined my love of all things digital (including social media) and finance.

My boss was a wonderful mentor and I loved my colleagues. The environment was open and honest, and I felt respected and appreciated.

I was convinced I found my niche in the corporate world. It was wonderful in the beginning, but then Chelsweets began to grow, at a faster rate than I could have imagined.

Big partnerships (with insanely short timelines), TV appearances, an ongoing content partnership with the Food Network, and a book proposal (a story for another day) began to push me to my limit.

I never thought I would reach a point where I couldn’t pursue both my professional career and my passion for baking. I had always found a way to do both and cherished being able to do it all.

I loved showing the world that I could have traditional success in my corporate career and pursue my other passions. But, in the wise words of my friend Heather Maclean; “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

Overcommitting and Underpreforming

I was working at my day job during the week, baking after work, filming on the weekends, and editing videos/blogging whenever I could find the time. I wasn’t sleeping enough and I had lost balance in my life.

I felt so run-down – I was operating at 70% all the time. I’m the type of person who wants to give her all to everything she does, and it became impossible to do so.

Being a perfectionist by nature and someone who wants to always be improving, this made me feel terrible about myself.

I’m sure to no one’s surprise, I hit a breaking point.

I had 5 big partnerships in a four-week span on top of my content partnership with the Food Network (4 cakes each month) – while also being out of town for two of those weekends.

I was working around the clock and I felt like I was losing it. I had a moment of clarity and realized, it’s time.

My Arbitrary Benchmarks

Originally, I had set some ridiculous goals for myself, thinking that once I hit those goals, then I would quit.

But in reality, I never thought I’d reach them. These included:

  • Making 2x my corporate salary doing Chelsweets (for the full year)
  • Paying off my mortgage (another long story…I bought a condo in Seattle a few years ago that I could rent out until I moved back to Seattle)
  • Having a consistent monthly income that I felt comfortable with

As I took a step back and realized how much my little baking business had grown, I was in awe of the fact that in 2018, I hit ALL these goals.

That’s when the gears in my head started turning. I hit all these while only doing it part-time.

Convincing Myself to Take the Plunge

It wasn’t a decision I made lightly. I spent years building Chelsweets to where it is now, months contemplating this decision, and hours analyzing my business strategy and financial position.

I went back and forth while getting to this point.

Was time to quit? No, I should stay in the corporate world I’d worked so hard to establish myself in.

I spent years studying accounting, and lost countless weekends working as an auditor at one of the biggest accounting firms in the world. Becoming a CPA was a big accomplishment for me.

Was I really ready to leave all that behind?

While being self-employed and running my own business is a huge accomplishment, I felt like it was less respectable than my corporate career.

That was one of the biggest mental hurdles I had to overcome.

I spoke with my fiancé, family and friends at length about it, and they reminded me that creating something out of nothing is an incredible feat, and that they would be there for me.

My mom even sent me a card the day I put in my 2-weeks notice, telling me that she and my dad were proud of me.

It sounds silly, but I cried when I read it. Their support helped reassure me that I wasn’t crazy for making this career change.

Defining My New Career

There also is the stigma of being an “influencer” or “doing Instagram full time.” In reality, I’m not doing either of those things.

I’m going to be developing my baking techniques, refining my filming/editing/photography skills, learning SEO and Pinterest strategy, and partnering with brands/media companies to create engaging content that people love to watch.

People don’t see all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.

They just see you post on social media, and know you have a large following. When people asked what I did for work, what would I say?

Am I a freelancer? An entrepreneur?? That I’m a baker but I don’t actually sell cakes or take cake orders?

me painting blue cake-2

Another huge factor in this decision came down to money, but not in the way you’d think.

To me, money means security. It comes from a lasting career and provides peace of mind. Instagram didn’t even exist ten years ago and I’m not formally trained in anything I do for Chelsweets.

Facing the Uncertainty

Is this really a career path? Will I still be able to support myself in ten years?? I mean, as a kid I used to count my money in my piggy bank every day.

I like money and the security that comes with it. What would I do when I didn’t know how much money I’d make each month? How would I live my life not knowing?

These are questions without an answer. The hardest part of the jump from my corporate job to running my own business was the fear of the unknown.

Despite all of this, something in my gut just told me to go for it. I am a huge believer in intuition and even with these worries, I feel like I’m making the right decision for myself.

I know I still have a ton to learn, but I feel like I’ve figured out just enough to be able to make this leap. I’m filled with nervous energy and ambition.

I’ve promised myself to give this my all so that when I look back, I’ll have no regrets. I’ll know I went for it and I did the very best that I could.

At the end of the day, that’s all you can do (the wise words of my Dad).

Let Me Know Your Thoughts!

If any of you have made a similar leap, or are thinking about it, I’d love to hear your experience or thoughts!!! 

Life doesn’t always turn out the way you think it will – I thought I wanted to be a Partner at an accounting firm or CFO when I first moved to New York and began my career, but sometimes the unexpected turns can lead to the most rewarding paths.

I’m hoping that’s the case for me and am excited to start this journey!

IMG_1484 (2)

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like to read:

168 thoughts on “Why I Quit My Job To Pursue My Baking Business Full-Time

  1. I LOVE your content and admire you so much for this decision. My boyfriend is doing a similar thing now where he has left his well-paying job to start his own business and we’ve often just said “you can always go back to a paid job but the right time in life to make a go of it on your own is now and not later”. Good luck and thanks for creating Chelsweets!

    1. Thank you Olivia!! It’s so true, time is of the essence!! I appreciate the kind words and support! Best of luck to your boyfriend and his business!! <3

  2. I’ve followed you on IG and You Tube for a long time. I use your basic vanilla and chocolate
    Cake recipes (laminated copies in my kitchen drawer) for wedding cakes I make. I’m a home baker and work full time at a local mfg company. So excited for you!! You can do this and I’ll be following you along the way. Good luck!!! ??

    1. omg that’s amazing!!! I love that!!! thank you for your support, and sending you best wishes with your baking business too!! 🙂

  3. Thank you for this thought provoking post. If more entrepreneurs would start their business with the education, experience, work ethic and understanding of the importance of finances, there would be many more successful startup businesses. You have laid the stepping stones for your life’s career. Now, go set the world on fire! Congratulations!

    1. Aw Kristan that is so sweet! That really is the reason I shared this post. I thought through this decision SO much, and did want to encourage other people in similar situations to do the same 🙂 I appreciate your kind words and support!!

  4. Congratulations on your new full-time venture! It’s incredible that you reached your goals running your business alongside a full-time corporate career!! Can’t wait to watch you soar to new heights 🙂 -A fan of your via Instagram

  5. Wow! I can hardly believe you were doing all this AND working full time. whew, you need a spa week!! You’re so very talented and so brave to take this leap -a true inspiration! Excited to see all you will accomplish! Best of luck to you!!!

    1. hahaha ain’t that the truth!! Everyone asked me if I was going to take any time off between the transition, but nope!! I’m so ready to dive head first into this 🙂 Thank you for the kind words!!!

  6. What a great story youll have to tell your kids one day. Life really is full of unexpected turns, but those are the best ones in my opinion! Best of luck on your new path and in the meantime… well be here watching you and cheering for you from our phones, computers or tablets ( new sidelines) .
    I really enjoyed reading your story and now when i see a tutorial or video i feel like i know you a little better. Thanks for sharing your gift with us!

    1. Haha I never thought about that! “and then mommy quit her job and started baking full-time!!!” But I think it will be a great lesson of following your passion, and hard work 😛 I’m so happy to hear that!

      I don’t share personal things too often on here (I want the focus to be on cake, not me!!), but it is fun to connect with all of you on a deeper level 🙂 Thank you for your support!!

  7. Your story is inspiring. My wife and I are delving into social media; instagram, youtube, etc. We have so many goals set in place and it may seem overwhelming. We also started a health food store here in New York, and it is all a leap of faith. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Aw thank you Renoir! it is all so much to learn, but it’s also exciting! There’s always something new to focus on, or something to get better at! That’s half of what keeps me going 🙂 Best of luck to you and your wife with your health store and social media!! If you don’t mind me asking, where is your store located?? I live in midtown!

  8. This is so inspiring! I have been following you for a couple years now and have watched your opportunities and social channels grow. I know you have put a lot of hard work into this and you deserve all the success that it brings! Congratulations, I wish you the best of luck on this new milestone.

    1. That is so sweet Cailey, thank you!! I really appreciate that you know how much hard work (and blood and sweat and tears :P) I put into it! Thank you for your support!!

  9. Hi Chelsea! Been following for a year or so now and the first recipe I made from you was the bloody glass cupcakes for Halloween! Their always a hit! I too find myself in the same position sometimes I love being crafty and baking/cooking as hobbies, just started my Etsy about two years ago and I wish I had more time to desicate myself to it but last year was a big success for me and I loved working from home! I am currently still pursuing dental hygiene to become a hygienist and find myself stuck at the moment because I have been in school for so many years and working in the dental field, I do find myself questioning whether I should continue it and if that doesn’t work out keep sticking and growing my Etsy shop. Anyways your story is inspiring and lately I’ve been thinking a lot about other opportunities and sticking to our intuition and going with the “what if’s” because like you said you just never know! Congrats Chelsea!

    1. Thank you Giovanna!! I really appreciate your support. At the end of the day you do just have to do what feels right! Best of luck with your Etsy shop, and school/work!! <3

  10. I fully understand your fear and, at 26, am in a similar situation (other than being able to support myself full-time on my side hustle but I’m convinced I could if I had more time.) I’m praying for your continued success and the peace of mind I know you’re aching for. I can’t wait to see what you have in store in 2019!

  11. Hi Chelsea! I have been watching your videos and following your instagram account for ages now and am an aspiring cake maker myself. I have completely self taught and so far have made 2x 3 tiered cakes without the use of a kitchenaid or anything like that and have been somewhat satisfied with the results given the fact that I am self taught. Just wondering, have you ever taken any classes to learn what you’ve taught yourself? I am in awe of you! Congratulations on your career move
    – from Chelsea, Adelaide, Australia! 🙂

    1. Hi Chelsea!! You’re too sweet!! That is awesome, I can’t imagine making a tiered cake without a kitchen aid!!!

      I am also self-taught, and don’t have any formal training! I’ve never taken a class, but have watched a ton of YouTube videos. I swear though nothing beats practice! The more cakes you make, the better they’ll get 🙂

  12. Congratulations! Going full time with your baking is an amazing and rare opportunity. Your fans totally support you. In 10 years if the blogger/influence bubble breaks you can always go back to the corporate world.

  13. Chelsey! Congratulations to you!!!! You deserve all the happiness and cake in the world. Always rooting for you whether it’s running or baking. 🙂

  14. Hello Chelsey, I came across your story and felt my heart warmed by it!
    I have to be honest that this beautiful background called my attention first but I also learned a bit about edible metallic sprinkles as well as your career change. You see, a month ago I did not have time to learn new things in life because between complex project solutions and red eye flights, I couldn’t do much with my personal time, which was little and compromised by tiredness and fatigue.
    By the end of January, I also left a corporate career of a Project Manager in a prominent company and with a wonderful staff to pursue my dream of making my own company take off. Our passion is architectural woodwork and we are committed with the purpose to make it happen!
    I am confident that both of us took the right decision, following our passion and jumping into these new ventures. I am also sure that if we put all our heart and effort into a purpose, we will find our way to achieve amazing things.

    After all, if we don’t build your dreams, someone else will hire us to build theirs!

    Recently I read this great article at Forbes, by Ekaterina Walter, which I take the liberty to share with you:
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/ekaterinawalter/2013/10/29/fail-your-way-to-amazing-things/#7877a18a6759

    1. I couldn’t agree with you more!! When you you make the right change, you can just feel it in your gut!! That is a wonderful article btw!! My favorite line is: “Once a person knows her true purpose there is no stopping her”

      best of luck with your new venture, I’m sure you will do wonderful things <3

  15. Hello, I too worked in Accounting and found myself without a job after 17 years and the company down sizing. I have always enjoyed baking and the last 6 months that’s all I’ve been doing and selling lots of baked goods from my home. Now I’m trying to decide to get the proper license to do it at home or go back to work. Baking allows me to be my creative self. Its scary stepping out there.
    Thank you for sharing your story and all your wonderful videos.
    Bake!

    1. It’s definitely a hard decision, and you do lose some of the stability that comes with your day job. At the end of the day it comes to what makes the most sense in your life, and what makes you happy 🙂 Best of luck with your decision, I’m sure you’ll follow your gut and do what feels right for you!

  16. Oh my gosh you go girl!!! I lost my job of 11 years major layoff. I’ve decided to try my hand at a home based baking business nothing really close to me so what the heck try it and find out!!! Congratulations!!

    1. Aw thanks Teresa! Best of luck with your baking adventure!! Sometimes life leads you down interesting paths, but I swear that’s where the magic happens 🙂

Let me know what you think!