In 2005, Mignon Francois was living in Nashville, Tennessee, with her family, struggling after her husband’s job fell through and left them with limited income.
Everyday expenses, rent, and even electricity became a struggle as the mom of seven would spend her days in the dark so there was enough power in the generator when her kids came home. Francois’ neighbors didn’t know how much the family was struggling, but they did know she had a talent for baking cupcakes.
Two years later Francois was still sitting in the dark when a neighbor asked if she could make 600 cupcakes at a dollar each. Francois didn’t have enough money to buy materials for that many, so she started with 60.
“When I closed the door, I had a real come-to-Jesus moment with God and said like, ‘Seriously? You offer me this opportunity when I don’t have any money? I literally have $5 to feed us,’” Francois told Business Insider.
Using the last dollars she had, Francois made the 60 cupcakes and when she was paid she put the five dollars back into her dinner budget and continued to bake.
One year later, Francois officially founded The Cupcake Collection, a bakery specializing in cupcakes, birthday cakes, and other delectable desserts. Today, Francois’ company makes almost $1 million in revenue, but the journey to success was littered with challenges.
Francois, a Black woman, knew getting credit would be next to impossible considering her family didn’t have a bank account. As a result, she developed a system dividing funds into envelopes prioritizing shelter, utilities, transportation, and food. She also used the system to divide profits and taxes. She also made sure to replenish the envelope set aside for supplies every time she got paid.
Through smart budgeting and planning, Francois kept profiting, turning a lifelong passion into a business.
Today, Francois is running her business but is also helping others achieve their own business dreams as a board member and mentor at Pathways Women’s Business Center and Nashville Entrepreneur Center.