At the inception of Tegan’s Custom Cakes four years ago, Tegan Crawford didn’t know the name would one day roll off the tongue of Goulburn Valley residents with ease.
Nor did she imagine amassing 25,700 followers on Instagram, to be known by many as “the cupcake lady”.
But she did have words to live by ‒ if you work hard in life, the rewards and benefits will come.
Behind the business, Tegan is much like any 23-year-old — balancing socialising, work and life, along with a hardy work ethic.
While her talents are evident in her long and varied portfolio of cakes, cupcakes and all things floury and delicious, Tegan actually fell into her career.
She always saw herself studying exercise and sport science after school and working as a personal trainer.
“Eighteen-year-old me was slaving away in the Woolworths bakery, the head baker went on holiday, someone accidentally took an order for a cake while he was away — I had no choice but to have a crack,” Tegan said with a laugh.
“It actually turned out half decent so I made a few more for the bakery and then slowly, colleagues, friends and family were asking me to do cakes for them.
“After a few months of doing that I eventually made a social media page, and then, well, here we are.”
Juggling personal training and baking for years, she said the irony wasn’t lost on her.
While Tegan has natural artistic ability, which she admits made her life a little easier, it’s only a small part of what brought Tegan’s Custom Cakes together.
She attributes her business success to a mix of work ethic and consequent hard work, much of which came from being raised to give her absolute all.
“My dad has always been very driven and a very hard worker, so I think he had a part to play in instilling this in me, in my values,” she said.
“It definitely hasn’t been easy, I am completely self-taught and I learnt everything I know literally just from watching videos, reading blogs.
“The first six months or so was me working the 6am to 3pm shift in the bakery and then doing cakes after work until all hours of the night — my work ethic is one of the things I am most proud of.”
Four years on from launching her business, Tegan has made tens of thousands of cupcakes and holds a bookings list closed months in advance.
Although now past the gruelling process of starting a small business, she said it was not within her nature to slow down.
A self-proclaimed “workaholic”, she said at times it could be her downfall.
“The long days every day, working 12 to 16 hours, have never been the struggle because I love my job so much,” she said.
“The real struggle is when your body starts to literally fail on you and have all these random issues because I’m not treating it right.
“I always think I can squeeze 100 things into a 24-hour day, my biggest struggle along the entire journey would be balancing the right priorities at the right times and trying to find that perfect work-life balance to keep me at my happiest.”
Aside from working 100-hour weeks and the occasional 24-hour working stint, like any 23-year-old, Tegan said her social life would always hold a place high in her list of priorities.
“I still manage to play netball on the weekends, drink on the regular with my girlfriends, see my family multiple times a week, and work out most days — plus I also have another job,” she said.
“I’m a strong believer in wanting to work hard now so that in 10 years’ time I have set myself up and then have the freedom to do as I want.
“But yeah, I never thought it’d get to this point, I am really proud of the way my business is perceived in the community and I am super grateful for all the support everyone has given me.”
* Caitlyn Grant and Megan Fisher are opening the conversation with their new weekly column, Let’s Talk. Covering all things from mental health to successful business stories of those in their early 20s, we want to hear from you. If you or someone you know has a story, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com