By Joshua Mabry, Viking Fusion Sports Director and Campus Carrier Sports Editor
MOUNT BERRY, Ga. – Senior women’s golf player Jorie Hodapp has been making baked goods, such as wedding cakes, cupcakes and cookies, since she was 12 years old, which ultimately led her to create her own business, Jorie Cakes.
Hodapp, who is an only child and is originally from Ohio, said that her business started when she was 12 years old and was looking for something to do when it was too cold outside to play golf from October to May. She originally decided to start babysitting, but after babysitting once, Hodapp determined that babysitting was not for her.
After going to a cake decorating class at a Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft store with her mom, Hodapp instantly became interested in baking and decorating baked goods, so she started baking treats for her family and friends.
Eventually, the baked goods became good enough that people were willing to pay for them, according to Hodapp.
She said that in addition to family and friends, friends of friends and strangers started asking her to make cakes, cupcakes or cookies for them.
“That would be what I did instead of coming home and going to the golf course,” Hodapp said. “I would come home from school, do my homework and then bake for all my orders.”
Hodapp said that as her business has grown throughout the years, it looks a little different now than it used to, especially after she filed for a limited liability company (LLC) in 2013 after receiving the help of an accountant who worked with her mother.
Even though she has been baking and selling her baked goods for 10 years, filing for the LLC makes Jorie Cakes officially six years old, according to Hodapp.
Hodapp said that when she first came to Berry, she baked on campus. However, this is no longer the case.
“I started out baking for friends in the residence halls freshmen and sophomore year, and then moved production off campus after learning about the health safety concerns,” Hodapp said.
Jorie Cakes is now registered as a home bakery with Hodapp’s parents, who now live in Carrollton, Georgia. This requires her to go to Carrollton whenever she has an order to bake.
A business like Jorie Cakes is not for the faint of heart, especially considering the fact that she also has to balance being a student-athlete, taking classes and working on campus at Berry as an assistant to Ginger Swann, assistant athletic director for sports medicine and senior woman administrator, according to Hodapp.
Hodapp said that life with her business is especially hectic during golf season.
“During golf season, I’m pretty limited on time because when we travel, we’re gone for like four or five days at a time and then practicing and team dinners and everything,” Hodapp said. “I do a couple of orders, usually for friends during the season, which is fall and spring for us, so it’s pretty busy.”
In the offseason, Hodapp said that she tries to do two or three orders per week.
“It takes a lot of planning of going home and coming back, but it’s really not bad,” Hodapp said.
As far as balancing her classes goes, Hodapp said that she has become used to it over the years. She said that she makes her business a priority because she is starting to transition to the real world as a senior. She makes sure that she goes to class and completes her homework, but Jorie Cakes comes first.
Recently, Hodapp said that several of her friends have had weddings and they have been keeping her very busy.
“They’re keeping me in business with wedding cakes, engagement cakes, shower cakes and everything,” Hodapp said.
Hodapp said that the biggest order that she has ever completed for a customer was a four tier wedding cake and an additional 12 or 13 dozen cupcakes for the wedding when she was in high school.
A more recent big order for Hodapp was for Berry Mountain Day in 2019. She said that she did over 400 cupcakes for Mountain Day festivities this year.
Hodapp said that she does not have a baked good that someone has ordered that is her favorite. She said her favorite alternates. However, she said that her favorite thing to bake is wedding cakes and cupcakes.
A recent wedding order that stands out to Hodapp is the cake and cupcake order that she did for recent Berry graduate and former women’s soccer player Megan Radosta Hirsh (19C).
“It was a three tier wedding cake and 12 dozen mini cupcakes,” Hodapp said. “The venue was beautiful, getting to deliver that and setup. I actually went to the wedding, too, so that was pretty fun. Weddings are always my favorite.”
Hodapp said that everything that she makes is very rich, so people who enjoy rich desserts are frequent customers of Jorie Cakes. She said that she has had several people at Berry order from her, including professors and president Steve Briggs.
Thema Monroe-White, assistant professor of management information systems and Hodapp’s adviser, said that she became impressed with Hodapp and her business when Hodapp took her one of her classes.
Monroe-White said that Hodapp identified a pricing issue for her cakes for a business intelligence project that required her to create a visual diagram that demonstrated what was going well with her business and what could be improved with her business.
This was beneficial for Hodapp because she had real world data that she could work with and use for her business, according to Monroe-White.
After the course ended, Monroe-White said that she received a note from Paula Englis, professor of management, about the Berry Enterprises student pitch competition. This led Monroe-White to encourage Hodapp to enter the pitch competition.
“I said, ‘Jorie, you should enter,’ Monroe-White said. “‘You’ve got what it takes.’ She said, ‘I wasn’t sure.’ And I said, ‘Do it. You’ll be fine.’ She did it and she was one of the winners. I was so proud of her.”
Since this, Monroe-White has had several baked goods from Jorie Cakes.
“She has a fantastic product, is interested in scaling it and growing it and eventually creating her own standalone physical structure for it,” Monroe-White said. “I’m really excited and the cupcakes are amazing.”
Much like how they served a crucial role in her business early on, Hodapp said that family and friends are just as important to her business today as they have ever been.
“I couldn’t do it without them,” Hodapp said. “I’m the one actually doing everything, but obviously, I need customers. I need a demand from somewhere.”
Hodapp’s grandfather owned a grocery store, so this was a big resource for her back in the day.
Now, Hodapp said that her friends are supportive of her and her business.
“If I’m meeting someone new they’re like, ‘You have to try her cupcakes,’” Hodapp said. “‘You have to order some.’ They’re really good at getting my name out there.”
Senior Eveline Parsons, Hodapp’s roommate and women’s basketball player, said that she has been roommates with Hodapp since freshmen year. She said that she enjoys being roommates with Hodapp.
“It’s funny because she’ll be decorating a cake in a really small space and it’s kind of hard to do that, but it’s really cool and obviously I get to taste a lot of stuff, so that’s a good part of it, too,” Parsons said.
Swann said that she is lucky to be able to work alongside Hodapp. She said that her and Hodapp have a lot of fun adventures together.
“I already knew that she is a very confident person and good at the things that she did, but I had no idea until I took the first bite of the cupcake, I think she is a wonderful sac chair, but she might be a better baker because those things are amazing,” Swann said.
The thing that brings Hodapp the most joy is when someone takes a bite of one of her baked goods and loves it, according to Swann.
Swann said that everything that Hodapp has done with Jorie Cakes is amazing. Looking back on Hodapp’s beginnings, she said that it is crazy to think about a child doing wedding cakes and other orders, but that is not the most impressive thing about Hodapp’s business.
“It’s cooler how the thing that she gets out of it most is bringing people together over food with joyfulness,” Swann said. “I think it’s a really neat thing that she’s doing. It’s more like a ministry than it is a business.”
Swann said that Martha Berry would be proud to have a student like Hodapp at Berry.
Hodapp said that her favorite thing to eat that she makes is her peanut butter cup cupcake, the cupcake that started her business.
The cupcake has four layers of chocolate cake filled and iced with peanut butter frosting and then is topped with a chocolate ganache and chopped peanut butter cups.
“It’s definitely not on any diet list, but it’s so good,” Hodapp said.
Swann echoed Hodapp and said that the peanut butter cup cupcake is by far her favorite flavor.
“The funny thing is, I’m not a big peanut butter person,” Swann said. “I like it, but I’m not crazy about it, but man, I don’t know what she does with that cupcake.”
Brian Farrer, head golf coach, said that the peanut butter cup cupcake is by far the best thing that Hodapp makes. He said that enjoys some of the other goods that she makes, but none quite compare to the peanut butter cup cupcake.
Parsons said that the peanut butter cup cupcake is her favorite as well.
“I love peanut butter, so that’s my favorite one,” Parsons said.
Monroe-White said that the Andes mint cupcake is her favorite Jorie Cakes baked good.
The best thing about baking is that it provides an escape, according to Hodapp. She said that her friends tell her that she gets in the zone when they come to her house to watch her bake.
Actually baking the treats is fun and important, but Hodapp said that is not the only reason that she loves baking.
“I also love the business part of it,” Hodapp said. “That makes it really fun when I can engage with customers or post stuff on social media. That’s a fun part, too.”
Hodapp said that even though golf and baking are polar opposite activities, her time on the course has helped her with her business.
“I’ll get into my zone with golf and get in with baking,” Hodapp said.
Golf has helped her with time management for her business. She said that she has had to learn how to balance her time on the golf course with her baking schedule because she cannot take an order and not fill it.
In addition to this, golf has also helped her see that pushing through to the end, no matter the circumstances, is always crucial because there will always be good days and there will always be bad days.
Hodapp said that golf has also helped her learn how to associate with people at her business.
“I’ll be paired with random people at the golf course and you’re with them for nine or 18 holes, so you have to be friendly,” Hodapp said. Meeting new customers, it’s the same thing.”
Hodapp said that she is very optimistic about what the future holds for her business.