By: Natalie Chu, Youth Council 2021/2022
The prominence of social media and lockdown restrictions caused by the pandemic led to a boom in young people exploring their creativity and passions through business. CCYP Youth Council member, Natalie Chu sat down with young BC entrepreneur Kate Trafford to talk about her baking business — By Sweet Kate.
The prominence of social media within our society has helped create new opportunities for youth to pursue their business endeavours.
Nowadays, when I log into Instagram, I can find a variety of different youth-owned accounts where I can buy items such as cute little cupcakes, chocolate-covered fruits, art, jewellery and clothing.
The boom of creative endeavours from young entrepreneurs has led me to wonder: what is it like for youth to start and operate a business online, particularly through social media?
To help me understand this phenomenon, I had the chance to ask Kate Trafford about her baking business, By Sweet Kate, and her experiences navigating the social media business environment.
About By Sweet Kate
The story of By Sweet Kate starts in the spring of 2020, a time which most of us remember as being within the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kate had always loved to bake, and that love stuck with her throughout her whole life.
So, when lockdown restrictions forced us all to spend more time at home, Kate found more time between online classes and part-time work to bake.
As an active social media user through her accounts, Kate had often posted about things that she had baked. Her posts and baked goods continued to become more popular amongst her family and friends. That is when she decided to create By Sweet Kate, an online shop of fresh homemade baked goods based in her hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia.
Kate credits her parents as her biggest supporters, who gave her support and inspiration for her products.
The staple item on her menu is the Basque cheesecake, an item that has grown in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic in Thailand. Kate has enjoyed introducing her Canadian customers to the Basque cheesecake and continues to explore offering it in different varieties, much to the pleasure of her recurring customers.
Each month, she likes to think of a theme that serves to inspire both her set menu items and new items, such as incorporating seasonal fruit, special events and holidays.
One thing that Kate enjoys about her business is being a part of birthdays and special occasions celebrated by her customers through the items that she makes for them.
The Lessons and Takeaways
Although Kate never studied business, being a new entrepreneur has taught her so much about running a business.
First, she uses an Instagram business account, which allows her to better track engagement on her page, including how many people view, like, and share her posts and her page. Second, she found that using the right hashtags is crucial for attracting more people. Third, operating through social media has taught her to manage a broad customer base, including engaging with users she may not know well.
She emphasizes the importance of protecting herself, her business and her costs. One way she learned how to do this is through setting regulations for her customers, such as requiring them to pay a partial deposit before their order is made and delivered to them.
Kate's biggest lesson for youth who also want to become young entrepreneurs is to treat your business with kindness.
Operating a business through social media can leave young entrepreneurs particularly vulnerable to negativity and jealousy from others.
Running a business, she had learned, starts with yourself. It is important to take time to be proud of yourself and what you have accomplished. Look towards your family and friends for support, encouragement and inspiration. With patience, passion and a willingness to learn and grow, running a business is fun!