Striking, bold, bright. These are just a few of the adjectives I’d use to describe the ornate cupcake masterpieces that come out of the ‘Sophia Mya Cupcakes’ kitchen, lighting up my Instagram feed. Nina Michael’s eye-catching work often stops me mid-scroll as I admire the swirls and flourishes that are always so expertly piped. This talented lady hails from Chicago and now call Melbourne, Australia home where she creates one-of-a-kind creations for her legion of adoring clients. Nina is THE OG creator of the global cupcake trend #monogramcupcakes , an shares her insight with us in this interview about what it takes to build an engaged and thriving platform on social media, create viral bakes and a behind-the-scenes peek of life as an #instabaker
Hello Nina, we are so excited to feature you and your incredible work on our Blog! I know our readers would love to hear your story of how you got started in the world of baking, leading up to your hugely popular Sophia Mya Cupcakes business?
Thank you so much for the opportunity! I started pretty late in life actually. (a woman never reveals her age. ). Moving to Australia totally sparked that in me after throwing annual Halloween parties. There wasn’t much out there back then for the holiday so I picked up a piping bag & couldn’t believe how therapeutic i found it. My friends back home in Chicago, were actually concerned & asked if i was ok cos they were shocked. lol
You cupcakes are so intricate, beautifully embellished and eye-catching, how did you go about developing your recognisable style to become what it is today?
Thanks so much Amanda, I appreciate the high praise from you! That didn’t come until 2-3 years after I started. I went into this not knowing the creative direction I wanted to go with to be honest. I have no art background & I hadn’t thought of my vision and so I was saying yes to every order because I thought that was the norm. It eventually started to feel like a chore and stopped enjoying it. I had a big health scare during that time as well, so I decided to completely stop selling for a year & started creating what made me feel happy and I ended up developing my own style through play. I’m very drawn to florals, nature, art and glam so I turned to those for inspiration rather than other baker’s work. As you can tell from my work, gold makes everything better. haha
One of your most well-known designs is hands-down your Monogram Cupcakes. It has been reshared, replicated and ordered by an immeasurable amount of people online. Wowee! How did you go about creating such a unique cupcake concept that has gone “viral” on Instagram?
I still can’t believe I started a global cupcake trend. It’s crazy & something I’m so proud of. My concept was sparked by the jumbo floral wedding monograms that were trending around 2014-2015, I was obsessed with them. I literally walked passed a letter box one day and had a lightbulb moment & came home hoping that my idea would work. It was a friend’s birthday I had to bake for and I presented her with an “M” 5 years ago and she absolutely loved it. My cupcakes were the perfect fit too, kinda like Cinderella with her glass slipper. 🙂
For our readers who are learning how to utilise social media for their baking biz, what are 3 tips you’d share with them for growing a platform as part of their marketing strategy?
Three tips are:
1. you must share good pictures & videos, that’s what IG is about afterall. You have to ask yourself, what stops you from scrolling? It’s a beautiful photo or presentation of a product and satisfying videos! I use my iphone for everything, you don’t need anything fancy. Just great lighting. Anything new Instagram rolls out should be a priority because they’ll showcase your work on the explore page.
2. Instagram is all about connecting with your community. Like & comment on pages you follow, engage with them and vice versa. I have made some amazing friendships through Instagram & they are such a supportive bunch. Plus, because we are in the same creative field, it’s nice to bounce ideas off each other. They understand your baking world which can be a lonely place sometimes.
3. Be consistent with your posting schedule. The forever changing algorithm will hide your posts if you aren’t consistently active. If you want to grow, you should be posting good quality content at least 3-4 times a week.
The internet can be a wonderful, but also challenging space. What are some challenges you’ve faced in the social media cake arena and how have you overcome them?
I think one of the challenges is comparison. When we are consuming information & images all day, it can influence our self perception. We sometimes compare ourselves to someone else’s perceived success, and it can be damaging if you don’t stop yourself and shift your focus. Am I good enough? Is my work good enough? Was a question that used to pop in my mind because I had self doubt in the early days.
I focus my energy on the goals I set myself every year and celebrate each one as I accomplish it, no matter how small. I remind myself I’m on my own unique journey and truly love it.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who is hoping to grow thriving online cake hustle, what would it be?
Be authentic to your own aesthetic & brand. When you really do what you love it reflects in your work and you will build your brand & community.
Last question, a fun one! Tell us something surprising about yourself that we wouldn’t ordinarily know 🙂
Hmmm…I bungee jumped the year I moved to Australia from 150ft crane in Queensland! Is that fun or crazy?