We had the good fortune of connecting with Jill Reilly and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jill, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I’ve been an entrepreneur most of my life. After college I worked in various advertising/creative jobs, but found myself “out of a job” when I became pregnant with my second child. Not working wasn’t really an option for me personally or financially, so rather than leave my fate to another employer, I simply decided that I was smart enough, talented enough and just stubborn enough to start my own business doing something I was good at! I was raised to believe that talents are God given, and if you use them to do something good, you’ll be successful at it. I was given an artistic eye, and the talent to make things pretty and appealing to others. Both of these talents helped me be successful with my first business as a graphic designer. I was also given the gift of hospitality! I love to entertain and was trained by some of the greatest southern ladies on how to make people feel welcome in your home, and how to feed them food that brings them comfort. So when it came time to make a business change, food and hospitality seemed the right course for me to take. My thought process is pretty simple… am I good at it, and will I be using my talents and skills to help others in some way? The answer to both of those questions was a Yes for creating Cute Cakes. Everyone celebrates so that’s a lot of help I can offer!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Creativity was something that was nourished as I was growing up. We were not wealthy so we weren’t given expensive toys or games, but we could paint, draw, color, build, sew, cook, write, sing, dream… whatever we could imagine up … using the tools, supplies and scraps around us… we were allowed and encouraged to do! My grandmother taught me how to make things taste amazing, but just as important.. she taught me to “take time to make it beautiful as well”. Her sewing, her baking, or the way she delicately decorated her cakes showed me that art comes in many forms. The art of cake decorating comes naturally to me, most likely because of my upbringing, but God did give me the talent to be successful at it as well. Being talented at cake decorating, however, does not make it easy to successfully operate a retail bakery. Food facilities are faced with mountains of obstacles that I never would have dreamed of, and perhaps if I had known about them, I wouldn’t have opened a retail bakery! But I’ve always followed my heart, not my head and I’m usually glad about that choice. I started my business because I have the ability to make beautiful, delicious food. I have grown my business because I finally realized that my talent is my gift to others. By doing what I do, their individual and family celebrations can be as sweet as the ones I remember throughout my life.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
When my friends and family come to San Diego, off course we have to do some of the touristy things but I never tire of them! While the San Diego Zoo is usually on their list, I redirect them to the Safari Park. I love it so much, and they always do as well. Tiger Trails is FABULOUS! A walk along Coronado Beach is a must, and is usually followed up with a lovely lunch on the pier. A would take a day to walk around La Jolla for some shopping, seeing the seals and sealions, and probably enjoy lunch at Georges on the top deck (so beautiful). Dinner at Jakes in Del Mar is always on the list, and brunch at the best Cafe in North County… Cute Cakes is a MUST! What we have always loved about San Diego is the ability to eat outside at night year round and enjoy the grill, the firepit and the spa. As a hospitality geared family, we love cooking up something wonderful right here at home and taking the party outside to our backyard. We’re lucky enough to have a nice space for entertaining and usually round out the evening with a nice wine, good conversation and maybe a competitive game of spades.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My Shoutout boils down to family… with my sweet Mama to address first. I was three years old when my father passed away, and my two older sisters were just 9 and 12. We were quite poor, but my Mama never let us feel that way. She worked long hours and the other strong women in our family and community helped raise us to be grateful and feel blessed beyond measure. Surrounded by mostly women, I grew up with the understanding the “women rule the world” and that if there is anything that needs to be done, we simply just do it! Don’t know how? Learn! My mama was constantly supporting me, encouraging me, making me feel that I was capable of anything, while always reminding me that my gifts were valuable and should be used for the good. My sweet husband, David, is my second shoutout. With 34 years of marriage behind us, a beautiful growing family, numerous relocations and multiple businesses, he has been my biggest supporter in whatever I have wanted to pursue. He encourages me, helps me make good business decisions (because I mostly shoot from the hip on everything) and he’s there to tell me how proud he is when I take on something new. He’s my partner in business and in life and I couldn’t have done any of it without him. He appreciates my independence and stubborn determination.