At just 16 years old, Ellen turned his side hustle into a profitable career.
In the summer of 2021, accomplished baker and entrepreneur Justin Ellen was faced with a difficult decision. The New Jersey native was approached by Netflix producers to star on “Is It Cake?” a new competitive baking show that showcased the work of the country’s most skilled cake artists. Saying yes to such a major opportunity seems like a no-brainer, however the show’s filming schedule meant that Ellen would have to skip his high school graduation and prom to participate. While these momentous events would be hard to miss, Ellen knew he had worked so hard for this chance, and he simply couldn’t refuse.
Ellen’s journey with baking started in elementary school remarking that his “best memories are the times I spent in the kitchen with my mom or grandma, baking up desserts for my family.” Once he caught the baking bug he couldn’t stop. As an adolescent, he spent days at time studying his craft on YouTube, “holed up in the kitchen, testing out new cake flavors and perfecting my skills.” That determination quickly paid off and Ellen began posting his own cake creations online.
At just 16 years old, Ellen founded his company Everything Just Baked. Although building a business was new to him, Ellen viewed his youth as a tool and tapped into his experience with social media to build his brand. “As a young entrepreneur I have learned to use my age to my advantage. Social media is everything today and it’s important to maximize it. Being young it just so happens that social media comes easy to me!” Within a few years, the bakeryquickly gained a sizeable social media presence loyal and customer base who turned to Ellen for creative, artistically decorated cakes and mouthwatering recipes.
Throughout high school, Ellen balanced running his successful business with homework, landing him on Netflix as he turned 18. On “Is It Cake?”, Ellen competed against other bakers (most twenty years his senior) creating replicas of everyday objects like sneakers and handbags in cake form. He became a fan favorite and credits the show as an invaluable experience that helped him expand his skillset and boost his confidence.
Now, as a young entrepreneur, Ellen wants to be an example for anyone chasing their dream. He offers courses “…to show people how to take their hobby and turn it into a high-functioning business. Delving into the fundamentals of baking and decorating. Teaching is important to us because knowledge should never be hidden. Without having access to Youtube, social media, or tv, I would not know nearly as much as I would today. And for that, I want to give back.”