FRANCHISING IS A GREAT WAY TO START YOUR FIRST BUSINESS: INTERVIEW WITH THE OWNER OF SWEET ARLEEN’S YORBA LINDA
When Toren Halseth was 22, he answered a Craigslist ad to be a part-time baker for a new cupcake boutique, Sweet Arleen’s. As the business grew, Sweet Arleen’s went on to compete on the Food Network program Cupcake Wars three times; and win all three times. The third time on the program, Toren was able to represent the bakery in the competition and secure the victory. When CEO Arleen Scavone, decided to franchise her brand last year, Toren became the first franchisee and is opening in his wife home community in Orange County, CA.
Thanks for joining us on Under35CEO today. Could you please introduce yourself?
My name is Toren Halseth. I am a 27 year old Southern California resident who was born and raised in Ventura County area. I attended Le Cordon Bleu of Pasadena and graduated in 2007. I am the owner of Sweet Arleen’s Yorba Linda and creator of Halseth LLC.
How did you become an entrepreneur in the restaurant world?
From the moment I started culinary school, I always wanted to own a restaurant. After meeting my wife in 2010, she was my main inspiration to push forward with my dreams. I just needed to find my way into the entrepreneurial aspect of the business. When Arleen of Sweet Arleen’s informed the bakery staff that she was pushing the company forward and going to bring the Sweet Arleen’s product to the Franchise World, I knew this was my way in.
Franchising is a great way to start your first business. The help and direction you receive from the corporate company helps you take out all the guessing work that comes along.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
We are just currently 3 weeks away from opening and we’re getting close to the $325,000.00 mark.
What were the unexpected challenges of opening your own franchise?
My age. At my age, not many banks are open to taking a chance. Even though I have the training, the experience, and the franchise to back me, a lot of banks felt it was still too high of a risk to issue a loan.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Make sure to choose a franchise that you can be passionate about. Never choose one because it sounds “interesting”. You need to remember that you have to love what you do, so it can show through to your final product the customer receives.
Tell us, how was growing up like for you?
Growing up for me was a little difficult at times. When I was 14, I completely destroyed my knee that needed over 7 surgeries, including a graft and a donation of cartilage. When I told my doctor I wanted to be a chef, he smiled and said “good luck with it because you will not be able to stand for long periods of time.” To add on top of the knee injury, I was very much over weight. After going to culinary school and starting to work I realized how difficult it was. It wasn’t until I was 21 when I had a choice to make, find a different career path or find a way to stay in my culinary career. I decided to lose 80 lbs, endure the pain, and strengthen my knee to keep doing what I love.
Is there anyone that you look up to and model yourself on?
My parents- My dad is an entrepreneur in the medical product field and always instilled into my head, with hard work comes great return. He is always there to remind me that if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Also, of course my mom. My mom has always been there for me when life seems to be at the toughest. She can always find a way to inspire me when I am getting burnt out.
Do you have any suggestion for coping with setbacks in business?
Always remember, to look forward and find a solution, there is always a solution to a problem. Never forget that every new problem will be harder than the last, but remember you were able to overcome that last situation.
What are your plans for the future?
At this time, get settled in the restaurant world and start a family with my wife.
What would you say is the key to your success?
Having strong will. There is never a task you should turn down because you feel you could not do it.
What does your average work day consists of?
Filling in the gaps that are needed to be filled. Whether it being the opening baker at 4 a.m., working the front counter, or managing and training staff.
How do you see your industry developing in the next 3/5years?
Chefs are becoming rock stars. The culinary world has evolved so much from even when I started not too long ago. I see it growing larger and larger because people are looking for the greatest product they can buy.
What do you think about Under35CEO?
I think it is a great way to showcase many younger people developing their success.
Are you a young entrepreneur under the age of 35 with an interesting story of success (or failure)? If yes, then the Under35CEO community has something to learn from you.
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