I Baked a Cake and Closed a Business

I baked a cake from scratch the other day.

It was a lot of work, a lot of mess (holy with the dishes!), and it didn’t turn out very pretty. Lopsided, sunken in the middle, crumbs stuck to every surface with which it came into contact; a frosted disaster.

But it tasted really good, and I can’t remember if I’ve ever baked a cake from scratch before.


I’d been craving cake for weeks, and, unsatisfied by a Sobey’s confection that was consumed in three measly sittings (shared with my husband), I opted for a homemade cake. It’s what I’d wanted all along. And as lumpy as my homemade cake turned out, it was far more delicious and satisfying than the grocery store treat.


Also, because I made it with my own two hands, and saw that I could, I’ll probably make another cake. And the next cake will probably be less lopsided, and still delicious.

By the time I publish this post, we (my husband and I) will have made our official announcement that our store, The Labour District, is closing. We’re closing next month and moving back to Toronto.

Back to square one, give or take tens of thousands of lost dollars, and two years of earnest-yet-ultimately-pointless hard work.

I didn’t understand why my cravings for cake intensified as our Store Closing Announcement date grew nearer. I don’t normally self-medicate with food. I’m more of a booze-swear-cry kind of gal, so why did I want to bake this cake so badly? Was the correlation between cake baking and business closure my attempt at reviewing my failure on a microcosmic level, altering the outcome into something more, ahem, palatable, or did I just want to try something new with my hands?

Our society has such an unhealthy fear of failure. When someone fails in the public eye, like we are with this store, it’s treated like death. Like something that needs to be avoided at all costs, in case it’s contagious. And I’m ashamed of my failure, I admit. I’m crushed that I can’t make a living off of my hard work, and I’m scared that I’ll spend the rest of my life making a low hourly wage doing work that I dislike, because I’ll never be good enough to do something more satisfying. Closing our business felt like the universe was snatching away our goals, telling us “No, not you. You don’t get to have nice things.”

But at least we tried.

Everyone experiences failure at some point. The more often you try new things, the more often you will fuck up. And failure itself isn’t bad for you; it’s better to try something and fail than to avoid trying anything because your fear of failure is bigger than you. What kind of life are you living when you never do anything scary? When you only read about the experiences of others? A sanitized package of general information, handed to you with all sharp edges removed so that you can avoid paper cuts.

I’m no coward, and I want to try new things, even if I fail.

You can’t surgically remove failure from your life without sacrificing adventure. You have to accept failure if you want to try new things. Lost money can be earned back. Shitty situations can be shut down and walked away from, if you’re lucky (and we are lucky; we can close up shop and walk the hell away). You can heal from your bad experience, you can brush yourself off and you can try something new when you’re ready.

The Labour District didn’t work out the way we hoped, but it wasn’t my first failure, and it probably won’t be my last.


7 thoughts on “I Baked a Cake and Closed a Business

  1. Dear Amie,

    Thank you for the courage you have shown in sharing the news of closing your business. It is raw and real. I think what really resonated with me is when you talked about the fear of not being able to do anything but work for a low hourly wage. I used to have this fear – I called it my “Bag lady Syndrome”’. When I lived in Los Angeles, I saw homeless women trawling the streets with grocery carts full of plastic bags with their stuff inside. It was a driver, a motivator for me to work hard and succeed because of the feeling of not deserving nice things. There is no shame in closing a business. You have had the courage to make the right and wise decision and this experience will inform your next adventure. You will take with you what worked and what did not – what was within your power to rectify and what was not. So many things that produce this outcome have nothing to do with you, from world financial situations , right idea but wrong time, and so on. Resilience and courage seem to be two important virtues you are blessed with. I salute your efforts, thank you for your posts and damn it, gonna go bake a banana bread loaf for the first time in my life. Thanks for the push.

    All the very best to you and your partner for a wonderful future. You’ll make it work, trust me.


    1. Carolann,

      Thank you so much for your kind words of support. I sat on this post for several days, revising it multiple times, unsure if I would even publish it, so it means a lot to me to know that it has some impact on others. Your words of encouragement will stick with me for a long time, I’m sure.

      I recognize your Bag Lady Syndrome; it’s something that frightens me sometimes too, and I hope that I can find motivation in it like you did! I’m scared for the future, but I’m also excited to see what it brings.

      Best of luck with your banana bread! Such a yummy treat!


  2. Amie, thank you for posting and sharing your feelings with us. This is real life and things like this happen. Remember it takes courage to open a business but it takes even more courage and ability to perceive to close it down. Maybe this could be a sign for a new and better adventure in your life in future, try your best to be positive and enjoy the good things that surround your life and avoid negativity. 🙂 Alice

  3. I have failed too…….an almighty failure that cost everything we owned and then some. At the time I was fairly philosophical about it “oh well never mind, we can start again”. But it destroyed my husband. I don’t think he ever recovered from the sense of failure. So my two sense worth is this: if you can keep it in perspective, you can learn from it and move on to the next great bigger better thing that the universe has in store for you. But if you let it beat you, it will. In the end the only thing that matters is how you deal with it. You are living life, having a go. Good for you!!! What’s the alternative? A slow boring life full of regrets. I would do it all again in a heartbeat. And thanks for sharing your story. Jane

    1. Jane, thank you for sharing your experience. I’m sorry that it was so hard on your husband; I can’t imagine how painful it must have been for him, and you.

      I guess in some respects we were lucky: we didn’t have much to invest in the first place, so we didn’t lose as much as we could’ve. Also, rather than pointing blame at ourselves or each other, we’ve pinned the failure on our hometown, where we moved back to in order to open the business. Once a godforsaken hellscape, always a godforsaken hellscape (it’s our hometown’s motto).

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