COB alumna competes on Food Network's Cupcake Wars
Jean Bates has her cupcakes, and she’s eating them too.
As the owner of Lucy & Leo’s Cupcakery in Midtown Tallahassee, Bates has what many would consider a “dream job.” She works among delicious flavors and candied toppings – and she owns it all.
“I graduated from FSU in 1997 with a degree in recreation and leisure services administration. Over the next 10 years I held general manager positions at several locations in Tallahassee, including Chez Pierre and The Fresh Market. It was at The Fresh Market that I decided I wanted more for myself - I wanted to be my own boss. So I returned to my alma mater, FSU, and began the pursuit of my Master of Business Administration.”
In 2008, Bates graduated with her MBA, as well as a great concept for a grocery store and small bakery, which she had worked on through her internship with K2 UrbanCorp, a residential construction and real estate development company. Unfortunately, the economy’s downturn ended her project. Left with a fresh MBA, Bates started plotting her next move – a cupcakery.
“Cupcake shops were popping up all over the country, and Tallahassee didn’t have one yet. Cupcakes are the perfect recession-buster. They are a small, independent, inexpensive luxury. I extracted a small part of the overall grocery-store project, a cupcakery, and ran with it.”
The result is Lucy & Leo’s Cupcakery, which Bates owns and operates with her business partner Paula Lucas. Bates’ passion for owning her own business guides the company, while Lucas’ passion for baking creates the delicious flavors ranging from red velvet to hummingbird cake to mint chocolate.
“I love being my own boss. I like knowing the decisions I make affect the whole process. I can never turn it off. I am always thinking about ways to make the business bigger and better every minute. The whole experience of getting my MBA was critical to the success of Lucy & Leo’s Cupcakery. Having an MBA gave me the business tools and professional confidence to put myself out there.”
And she’s more than “out there,” Bates and her cupcakes are now on national television. Competing in the wedding edition of the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, Bates went toe-to-toe with other bakers from across the country. Her unique creations landed her in the final competition, and while they didn’t secure her the win, she has throngs of fans and customers in Tallahassee that would beg to differ.
With a thriving bakery that she owns and operates, Bates has already won.
“I most definitely recommend to others to start their own businesses. Passion is a key ingredient, and being true to yourself. It is a lot of work, it pays off in the end, and it is all yours!”