Daniella Boutros has come a long way from the 16-year-old who dropped out of school after years of struggling with severe dyslexia. Today 30-something Boutros is a successful small business owner whose custom cake shop, Buttercreme Lane does a roaring trade.
Amongst her clients are major corporations, football clubs and of course, satisfied locals, who just can’t get enough of her sweet treats.
Boutros tells Kochie’s Business Builders (KBB) it wasn’t ‘til she was finishing up primary school that teachers first noticed she had a learning difficulty. “I’d always been able to wing it ‘til then. But by the time I got to sixth grade, it became harder to hide.”
Whilst I lament a school system that allowed Boutros to fall through the cracks, the ebullient baker brushes off my sympathy and suggests that her dyslexia led her to be “more determined” and strive to do her best in whatever she does. Whilst it might have been challenging in the beginning, by now, she says, her coping mechanisms are entrenched.
“Sure, there might be some days when I fool myself and I wake up and think, ‘Yeah I can read’ – and then I head off to go to a party and wind up getting lost,” she laughs. “But mainly I have great support around me and I have good planning and know how to manage things.”
[Image] Daniella loves creating cakes for celebrations.
After leaving high school at 16, (I realised I couldn’t keep winging it) Boutros convinced her parents to lend her a few thousand dollars to start her first business, Parcels of Love. Boutrous ran the gift business – which specialised in helping men find great gifts for the women in their lives – for a number of years before deciding to take a chance on following her passions and opening her second business, Buttercreme Lane in 2012.
At the time, molded cakes with fondant icing were all the rage, but Boutros tells KBB she wanted to make cakes that “tasted as great as they looked”, so she thought about reintroducing traditional buttercream frosting and Buttercreme Lane was born.
“I wanted them to eat the icing, the cake and lick the plate,” she laughs.
But the process was not without trial and error. Baking, like much of the food preparation industry, is a precise science and Boutros admits her lack of reading ability was a double-edged sword.
“I couldn’t follow a recipe. So everything I learned, I learned from watching YouTube videos and from experimenting. I’m Lebanese, so food is very important in my culture and we cook with a lot of oil. So I bake a lot with oil. I didn’t have any training so I wasn’t worried about breaking the rules. I started experimenting: replacing the butter in a mixture with oil – a quarter of the recipe, half of the recipe. I had a few disasters. But I eventually got the recipes right. When butter gets cold it gets hard – but oil doesn’t – so my cakes were so much moister.”
[image] Daniella (right) and her sister Elizabeth Ann
Perfecting her recipes was just the first issue for Boutros. With no fundamentals in business education either, the baker says she was initially running her business blind.
“Then I discovered Kochie’s show. Because I can’t read, I watched a lot of shows, mainly on SBS and ABC to get my news and help me inform my opinions on politics or issues. One day I came across Kochie’s Business Builders show. It really changed everything for me. It was like – oh so that’s why I have issues with cash flow – or that’s what I need to do to fix payroll. I learned so much from watching the show each week – it was like my business school.”
Today Boutros is something of a celebrity baker, her cakes have been the centerpiece for family celebrations, corporate events and she’s appeared as a chef on morning TV. But the motivated small business owner is not one to rest on her laurels. Her business has grown exponentially at a pace that might be alarming for some, however, Boutros is taking it in her stride. Planning she insists is essential and thanks to her dyslexia, implementing good process is a way of life.
“I’m lucky that I have a very supportive sister and a great team. So we have a lot of systems in place. In my emails, for example, everything is colour-coded for me so I know if it’s about an order that needs attending to or an alteration.”
In fact, coded systems flow through the day-to-day business. Even her bookkeeper’s provide her with colour-coded folders.
[image] Anyone for a cupcake?
“Though that’s not why I chose them,” she laughs. She credits mentor Ita Buttrose as the reason she has moved to a cloud accounting system and appointed a bookkeeper.
“I used to be frightened of numbers but I’m not anymore…”
With her business growing so rapidly, Boutros says her next big challenge will be scale.
“Scaling the business… It’s a bit of a buzz word for me at the moment. Right now I’m still making every cake. I need to look at how I can scale the business, continue to grow and maintain quality…”
If Boutros’s success to date is anything to go by she won’t be making all those cakes alone for much longer…
You can check out Buttercreme Lane’s creations on Instagram. Or if you’re in Sydney visit the shop at 2/193 Canterbury Rd, Canterbury. You can thank us later! Look out for Daniella in an upcoming episode of Kochie’s Business Builders.
In the meantime, we are gearing up for the first episode of series 11 Kochie’s Business Builders TV to hit Channel 7 at 12pm Sunday 1st October 2017 so we’d love to have you join us!
Click play below for a highlight reel of series 11 of KBB TV