Jordan Rondel has lavender hair and it makes total sense to me—like her business approach translates to her hair color. Because that’s what Jordan has done with her business The Caker: taken something traditional and made it her own. Since when were cakes a thing? Through The Caker, Jordan makes cakes cool.

“I’ve been driving around South Auckland all day trying to find a commercial fridge for my new kitchen. I signed the lease for a space next to the laundromat on K Road, and I’m building this kitchen and shop front from scratch. It’s not big, but it’s bigger than the place I rent now. It’s taken the past 7 months to build out and I’ve been paying rent the whole time so it’s been tough. My bank balance has pretty much reversed itself over that time, but I can’t think about it like that… hopefully it will all be worth it in the end.

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Sometimes I look back and I’m not sure how this all came together, but I think something happened with timing for me. Around 4 years ago, no-one was doing bespoke cakes and now there are heaps. I had this obsession with baking, and started a little blog when blogs weren’t around so much. Karen Walker suggested I make some cakes for the Department Store, so I stayed up all night making samples. I brought them in the next day and they really liked them, and things slowly took off from there. I think I wrote a list of goals at some stage but I didn’t take it seriously. I’d probably be in my new space right now if I had been more organized about it.

My dad was always telling me to write a business plan which I never got around to doing.

That might have been the right thing to do, but I think what helped me is how everyone in Auckland talks. People say there’s Tall Poppy Syndrome, but I never experienced any of that, I didn’t get shit from anyone. I felt really supported.

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Right now I’m working from about 7AM to 7PM. I get home around 3 or 4, then do all my emails after that. I can make up to 30 cakes a day on a really busy day, but I’ve cut down in the past few weeks to focus on the kitchen. I’m usually in the new space on Sunday too, so it’s getting bit much. I’m always a little stressed and start to get sensitive and grumpy. I don’t think it’s healthy to be that way all the time. It’s pretty hard trying to balance everything—I used to love cooking dinner but I don’t have time to do that anymore, so we eat out a lot which isn’t the best.

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I’ve just brought someone on for when the kitchen opens. It’s taken me so long to hire anyone.. even my accounting, I’ve only just handed that over. I’m a control freak, I’ve learnt that about myself throughout this process.

But the business won’t grow if I don’t learn to delegate, and I’m burning myself out.

I put all of myself into this, it means everything—but there’s only so much I can do. Now all I’m waiting on is the council to tick things off before I can open. K Road is starting to get awesome, there are so many good places to eat. The location is perfect—it’s a little bit rough, a little bit grimy… I never wanted to have a cute cake shop.”

Jordan’s #OKREALTALK Tips

  • Sometimes conventional advice isn't always the way to go (sorry, dad)
  • Don't form your expectations around a stereotype (like tall poppy syndrome)—it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • In business, you need to let go of your inner control freak in order to grow. Learn to delegate.
  • Accept there is only so much you can do.

b. 1989 

i. @thecakernz

f. thecakernz

As told to Amy Woodside, March 2014
Photographed by Yasmine Ganley