As Augusta University’s annual Alumni Weekend approaches, the university is celebrating alumni entrepreneurs. Taylor Rutledge, a 2017 graduate of Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, is the owner of Taylor-Made Kakes, a local bakery located in downtown Augusta.
Tell us about your business.
We open our drive-thru in March 2020. At TMK, I offer decadent cheesecake “kakes,” moist mini bundts and piping-hot beignets.
I’ve had a passion for baking for as long as I could hold a whisk. I started out making cakes and treats for family, and soon began selling them to friends. I’ve always enjoyed watching shows like Cake Boss and Cupcake Wars. I aspired to make cakes as elaborate as they did. I practiced, and found my niche in making custom cakes and other treats.
What struggles have you overcome while being an entrepreneur?
I have had to overcome quite a few things on this journey. Maybe the most difficult was dealing with COVID and its restrictions. I had to change my whole business model — not to mention the shortage on supplies. This first year (almost two) has been quite a doozy, but still I rise.
What skills did you acquire while you were a student that prepared you to lead a business?
As a student, I held a few student leadership positions, which molded me into the leader I am today. I was an orientation leader and resident assistant, which taught me how to interact and relate with people from all different walks in life. I was also an executive member of the Jaguar Production Crew. I was trained how to plan major university events, work within a budget and how to collaborate with other organizations.
AU afforded me a multitude of opportunities that I will forever be grateful for.
What lessons have you learned along the way?
I learned that everyone who started in my corner will not always be there when times get tough. I had to learn to let go of certain people who were praying for my downfall. While it was uncomfortable, it was completely necessary for my growth.
Also, I am learning now is how to give myself grace and to be patient with the process. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
What sets your business apart from others?
I think what sets my business apart is the care I take in providing a quality product. Nearly 90% of my products are make from scratch in my bakery. My staff and I take the time to ensure everything is up to par!
I also have a drive-thru and not too many bakeries have those.
What is something surprising that people wouldn’t guess about you?
I actually do not care for sweets! I’m more of a savory lover. I get asked all the time how do I not eat cake every day, and I just do not crave it. If I owned a steak house, this might be a different story!
What advice do you have for current students?
Follow your dreams and your vision for your life. I always aspired to have a bakery since I was in high school. Others have tried to deter me from pursing that dream because it wasn’t what they pictured for my life. But it’s my life, so I can do as I choose.
Please take heed and do what is best for you. If someone tells you that you can’t do something, show them you can do it better than they can imagine! There is greatness inside of all of us, we just have to tap in.