Amirah Kassem, founder of FLOUR SHOP, knows a thing or two about bringing fun to the table. Her company’s most beloved item – the Rainbow Explosion Cake – pours out tons of bright sprinkles when you slice into it, a feeling similar to bursting into a piñata.
In a recent Office Hours episode, Kassem explained why fun and flour shouldn’t be saved just for birthdays. Embracing a “birthday lifestyle” means not being held back by norms and expectations. Following your gut can be a great tool when building a business from scratch.
For Kassem, focusing less on what other bakeries were doing was an important lesson in building her unique business. A “birthday lifestyle” means customizing every day with what makes you happy, plus surrounding yourself with positive energy, in and out of the kitchen.
“You curated [your birthday], so why can’t you live like that every single day?” Kassem said. “Wear the glitter shoes. Wear the rainbow nails. Play the fun music right when you wake up. You create that environment. I believe in that so much.”
These ideas have helped FLOUR SHOP blossom. The company has even created unique product lines beyond the bakery, like shoes and luggage – with plenty of fun baked into each endeavor.
Here’s how Kassem sprinkles joy onto every business decision.
Build a Top-Tier Team
When starting a business, it can be easy to say ‘yes’ to every exciting opportunity. But is it realistic?
Kassem said it’s crucial to hone your ‘no’ skills to avoid burnout. She learned that lesson by taking on big projects and doing every role herself in the beginning. She later prioritized hiring reliable experts in order to grow the business. The best hires, she said, had the right personality and were aligned with the mission. That collective positive energy helps fuel the brand forward, she noted.
Of course, it can be hard for entrepreneurs to let go. They can start small, taking one thing off their plate at a time, Kassem said.
“Letting go and trusting is one of the most important things in being able to scale,” she said.
Pick Partners That Align
Strengthening those team relationships is important, and so is forging new ones beyond the brand.
Kassem has crafted partnerships with various lifestyle brands, further spreading the celebratory vibe to the aisles of popular retailers. For partnerships, brands and products must align with the FLOUR SHOP spirit, Kassem noted, and have a similar customer base. Patience is key, and building these relationships takes time, she added.
“Relationships are the biggest thing for me, personally and in my career,” Kassem said. “My most successful projects and products have been through everyone being very excited about something. You can feel when something just clicks, and you’re like, ‘Wow, this is going to be so much fun.’ That word ‘fun’ ends up being successful.”
Savor Creativity and Joy
Kassem cultivates her creativity through enjoying life. Prioritizing time to experience her daughter’s “real-time imagination” makes Kassem more creative and energized at work.
“My mom is like a bundle of joy, and she’s always looking at the bright side of everything, and she really let me express my creativity in so many crazy ways,” Kassem noted.
To stimulate that spirit for her business, Kassem carves out creative time that’s separate from business-focused time.
“Fully turning off and on switches in the brain is what helps me,” she said. “Taking moments and really living in them is what helps me jump into the next thing.”
Make the Mess
Finally, making the mess is important – in the kitchen and in life.
Kassem’s Beverly Hills-based store was set to open in March 2020 as pandemic lockdowns began. Kassem and her family had just moved to L.A., and it was a very lonely moment, she said. While continuing to support her employees to keep the energy alive, she also connected with fans on social media. There, she happily found people were still buzzing about FLOUR SHOP’s treats, leading her to post her own baking videos for fans.
“It was beautiful to know the brand was still living, people were still enjoying or baking at home, whether we were able to open doors or not,” Kassem said. “It reminded me we are not just a physical place – it can be anything.”
Chaos can often bring unique ideas. Even the famous explosion cake had failed many times before Kassem found the right recipe. It wasn’t made for social media, even though it gained tons of attention there. It was a “completely backwards situation,” according to Kassem.
Letting go and trusting is one of the most important things in being able to scale.
—Amirah Kassem, founder, FLOUR SHOP
“I believe in making my own mistakes and figuring out my own strengths – I didn’t even go to culinary school,” Kassem said. “Half of the things I did completely wrong are what make my business stand out. Trust yourself and what makes you happy – the rest you can figure out. If it’s organically happy to you, it will be organically happy for someone else out there.”
This interview is part of Office Hours, a series that connects you with entrepreneurs and experts and tips for running and growing a business right now. Find other can’t-miss conversations here.