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Entrepreneur Success: The Moment I Knew I'd Made It Liz Field, founder of The Cheesecakery, shares her path to sweet success.

Adam Doty
Liz Field, founder of The Cheesecakery

For entrepreneurs who launched a business, grow it every day, and continue to push the envelope, there is almost always a moment during their journey where they realize they "made it." Perhaps it was depositing their first big client check in the bank. Maybe it was hiring their first employee or reaching $1 million in sales.

For Liz Field—founder of Cincinnati-based The Cheescakery, which sells fresh and creative cheesecake cupcakes, desserts, and coffee drinks—that moment came last summer. Field says she was invited to participate in Taste of Cincinnati, an annual event that she and her family had attended for years and only dreamed of working. At one point, Field looked up and realized that the line for The Cheesecakery booth was at least 50 people deep. As it turned out, the line didn't let up over the entire three-day event.

"I sold thousands and thousands of cupcakes," says Field, 35, who is barely able to comprehend all the attention even to this day. It's the moment that she knew all her hard work paid off. She made it.

Realizing her passion and building a business.

Starting and growing a business like The Cheesecakery is a mission rooted in passion. Field wasn't aware that she had a passion for baking until she was well into her 20s. After earning a Bachelor's in business from the University of Cincinnati in 2009, Field entered a weak job market during a difficult recession.

With few job prospects materializing, Field's friend invited her to a baking party to cheer her up. With zero prior baking experience, Field was hesitant at first but decided to go. "We took a few ingredients and turned them into something amazing," Field happily recalls. "We made cinnamon rolls and cheesecake. I was truly mesmerized and could not believe that my own two hands could create 'food,' or dessert, rather."

From there, she became obsessed with baking. First, Field made desserts and pastries for family. Then friends. Then friends of friends. It wasn't long before her mentor, a city financial director, tried her tasty creations and suggested she combine her mind for business with her passion for baking to start her own business.

"Start my own business? Me? What?!," Field remembers thinking. "I felt like he saw something that I didn't see at all." Before long, Field was taking custom orders and doing wholesale to coffee shops, cafes, and restaurants around Cincinnati.

After a stint making cupcakes and cookies for a local ice cream shop, Field got serious: She enrolled in the Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State and studied Pastry Arts.

The Cheesecakery offers more than 200 flavors of cheesecake, and counting.
Image credit: Catie Viox

Finding a partner that understands your vision.

Not long after, Field set out to officially launch a business—The Cheesecakery Food Truck—based on her delicious cheesecake cupcakes. She says she visited three local banks where she delivered a prepared presentation about her plan. She was turned down at every branch. Feeling defeated yet determined, it wasn't until she walked into a U.S. Bank location and unexpected started up a conversation with the staff that she started to see glimmers of hope.

"I was completely unprepared with no presentation, no business plan, no business card, and I was underdressed," Field recalls. U.S. Bank serves millions of customers locally, nationally, and globally through a mix of businesses: Consumer and Business Banking; Payment Services; Corporate & Commercial Banking; and Wealth Management and Investment Services. With a smart approach to digital innovation, social responsibility, and customer service, U.S. Bank is dedicated to helping small-business owners succeed.

"I had a very nice conversation with the branch business manager, and she explained that she believed in my vision and wanted to work with me," Field continues. "I was speechless. I could not believe it. We worked out the numbers and it seemed almost immediately after that I was approved for the loan to purchase my own food truck!"

Field employs 30 people across The Cheesecakery storefront and dining area, an adjacent bakery, a commissary kitchen, and soon to be three food trucks.
Image credit: Liz Field

The beginning of a successful relationship.

By 2016, Field's food truck hit the streets and was open for business. But what seemed like a journey to get started was, in fact, just the beginning. Demand for Field's delectable desserts was so high, she decided to open a brick-and-mortar store in 2019 in her hometown Madisonville, a neighborhood in Cincinnati.

Today, The Cheesecakery consists of the storefront, a sit-down dining area, an adjacent bakery, a commissary kitchen (a big private commercial kitchen where they do all their baking and prepping), and soon to be three Cheesecakery food trucks. Field employs 30 people making more than 200 flavors of cheesecake and counting. Over the years, Field has leveraged her relationship with U.S. Bank to help take each next step and will likely continue to do so in the future—especially since she has plans for opening another storefront later this year.

"I love my local [U.S. Bank] branch," Field says. "They're extremely helpful, patient, and kind every time I come in. They all know me by name and always ask what I'm up to next. And my business banker is transparent, dependable, honest, and just a nice guy. He makes me feel at ease, seen, and understood. He treats me like a successful businesswoman and understands my time is valuable. I definitely see U.S. Bank helping me reach my next milestone in the future."

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