(DAKOTA DUNES, SD) Briar Cliff's week-long Entrepalooza is all about celebrating Siouxland businesses including Cheesecake Creations & Sweet Sensations in Dakota Dunes. Owner Chris Pulscher will mark her second anniversary at the end of April. She'll be the first to tell you the last two years haven't been easy but she's living proof that "high risk, high reward" is no cliché.
"I love when anybody asks to see my business plan because there isn't one. I knew if I put stuff on paper, I wouldn't take the risk," says Chris Pulscher, Cheesecake Creations & Sweet Sensations owner. In March 2011, Chris Pulscher turned her life upside down. After 25 years in sales, she withdrew her life savings and put it all into one risky investment. "I have an older brother that really thought I'd lost it and reminded me I was no spring chicken. I have no problems saying I was 45 years old when I did this," says Pulscher. In just 6 weeks, Chris turned this former doctor's office in the Dakota Dunes Retail Village into a bakery. "I want to do something different. I want to do stuff that's kind off the wall," explains Pulscher. She knew how to make cheesecakes but the rest she had to learn from scratch. "I leased it first and then came in and taught myself how to do it. So I did it a little backwards," says Pulscher. Cheesecake Creations & Sweet Sensations opened on April 28, 2011. One month later, a flood forced thousands of potential customers to leave the Dunes. "After everybody evacuated, I had to learn to turn on a dime. I was one that was totally dead set - technology background - but dead set against social media," says Pulscher. But with the help of family to create an online home, the bakery reached out through the Internet. Chris credits social media with helping her business grow. An online campaign in December doubled the number of likes on Facebook and that translates into more people walking through the door. Chris is a one-woman show but she says the countless hours she spends baking are all worth it. "70 [hours a week] or better. But it's not work. It's just living a dream," says Pulscher. "Drizzle and you just want to make sure you get enough of it," explains Pulscher. "The last thing you want to do is skimp." And she doesn't! The shop offers up 71 different flavors of cheesecake, muffins, cupcakes, rolls and New York-style boiled bagels, all made from scratch and by hand daily. And the menu is always growing. "I think that's what customers like is they know they can reach out to us and we'll try it. They give us an idea and I'll give it a try," says Pulscher. Chris Pulscher isn't afraid of taking risks and this one is paying off, one customer at a time. "Where would we be if our ancestors didn't act on the dreams they had?" asks Pulscher. "If you have a dream, do it and it doesn't matter when you do it."
Last year, Chris tied for first place in Entrepalooza's Swimming with the Sharks competition and she spent the $1800 prize on a sign for the building. This year, she entered her idea in the Innovation Market and the bakery was one of four stops on the Get on the Bus tour. Chris says she's working on distributing through other businesses but won't open another storefront because she doesn't want to risk the quality of her baked goods.
You can learn more about Cheesecake Creations & Sweet Sensations on Facebook.
Reported by Erika Thomas. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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