Kelsey Loebel is baking with a purpose. She started her bakery business, Confections & Connections, back in May of 2015 in her home kitchen with the combined goals of providing her customers with irresistible treats and making a difference in her hometown of Memphis. Kelsey connects her business and her customers to those in need by donating 10% of her profits to local charities. What’s better than eating a dessert and knowing you are helping someone in your community while doing it?! We are delighted to introduce you to today’s FACE of Memphis, Kelsey Loebel.
Where were you born and what was your upbringing like?
I was born and raised in Collierville. Life from the beginning was full of love and activities. I grew up as the baby of the family with two older sisters. We were all busy and really involved — I don’t know how my parents kept up.
When did you start baking, and why do you enjoy it?
I started baking in middle school. I think I initially enjoyed it because it was something I could do on my own. No one in my family baked, so it gave me the opportunity to differentiate myself and discover a new hobby of my own. However, I think the real love came in the rare moments when a recipe actually turned out well — they say practice makes perfect! I loved seeing people enjoy something I created, and, of course, the praise that followed was nice, too!
How did you come up with idea for Confections & Connections?
It was my senior year of college and I was at a pivotal crossroads, trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life after graduation. I had always wanted to own a business, but more importantly I wanted to help others, as I believe that is everyone’s overall purpose — not to serve ourselves, but to serve others. I wanted my job to reflect that. I prayed about it a lot until God answered my prayer through a short paragraph in one of my business textbooks. It stated that owning a business was far from easy and you had to have a “why” to keep going in those difficult times. It went on to point out that one of the possible “whys” might be giving back through your organization. Everything clicked — that was my answer. I quickly told my friends about it, my roommate threw out the name “Confections & Connections,” and now here we are a few years later.
How do you decide which organizations to support?
So far, all of the nonprofits that I have connected with have been recommended to me. There are so many wonderful organizations in our community, and I have been surprised to find that I never knew many of them existed. I don’t have any rules when it comes to picking, but right now I try to stick to smaller organizations where awareness and my donation can make a bigger impact. I also try to switch it up and pick organizations with different missions. I never want to focus on just one group of people, but instead I hope to touch people of all ages, demographics, facing different struggles, anything — I am up for any suggestions. Please send them my way!
Describe your typical day.
I wish I could. All of my days are different, but it is safe to say that my days usually consist of baking, grocery store runs, returning emails, trying to figure out what in the world I am supposed to be doing and how to do things business school forgot to teach me.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
That’s an easy one — the “connections.” Not only am I getting to connect with local nonprofits to make a difference, but I also get to make connections with the people who work and benefit from these organizations, my customers who graciously allow me to be a part of their lives and other people through special events in our community, other business professionals, and the list goes on and on.
What has been the most challenging part of running your business?
The most challenging thing has been the loneliness that comes along with being an entrepreneur. I didn’t expect it. It is lonely in the fact that you are literally alone all day, which is rough for an extrovert, but it is also emotionally lonely. Building a business is nothing short of overwhelming, and when you are a sole proprietor there is no one to share the burden with. At the end of the day, it is just you.
Why have you chosen Memphis as your home?
I came back home to Memphis when I decided to pursue Confections & Connections. I knew if I wanted my business to have any chance at success, then I needed to be in a place where I already had a foundation. At the same time, I loved the direction Memphis was going. We all have this underlying love and Memphian pride that’s turned into a bigger community movement of building and bettering our city. I wanted to be a part of that.
What do you do to relax?
Play with my nephews! Their smiles alone bring my stress level down a few notches. I also enjoy a good nap.
What is the first place you take out-of-towners when they visit you?
Well, I can’t say it’s the “first” place, but I can pretty much always guarantee a visit to Paula Raiford’s Disco after a night out on the town. There is truly no place like it, and it never disappoints. In fact, it’s usually requested by my out-of-towners. What can I say? I’m 24!
Finish this sentence: If I had a superpower, it would be …
Flying! I have friends all over the place, and it would be awesome if I could go see them whenever I wanted!
If you could go back in time to when you were starting your business, what advice would you give yourself?
It’s OK to ask for help. I spent a lot of time figuring out some little things that could have been achieved a lot quicker and more efficiently if I would have just simply asked someone for some insight. I honestly could still use this advice.
What is something people might be surprised to know about you?
My first “hobby” was actually dance! I started dancing when I was 3, competing when I was 5 and continued all the way through college as a Rebelette at Ole Miss. It was a huge part of my life and had a lot to do with who I am today.
What inspires you?
A lot of things inspire me, but the big ones are, in no particular order: Other successful small business owners — If they can do it, I can do it; my family and friends — their belief in my success inspires me to keep going in the moments when it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel; my faith, which allows me to see the bigger picture and is a constant reminder to give my life and love to others; and baking blogs, which is where I learn new things and get new ideas!
What is your proudest accomplishment?
Still waiting on this one. As of now, maybe taking the leap of faith into this business in the first place. I’ve never been one to really rock the boat, so for me to go against the grain and skip the whole getting a “real job” thing, I guess that makes me pretty proud. Thankfully, I had the support to do such a “crazy” thing.
What is your best piece of advice?
Pray. I find the answers to all my tough questions through prayer.
With the exception of faith, family and friends, what are three things you can’t live without?
Coffee, skinny jeans and hand soap
Thank you, Kelsey! To learn more about Confections & Connections, visit confectionsandconnections.com.
Thanks to Micki Martin for the fabulous photos of Kelsey!
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