Entrepreneur Rachel Willis and Her Husband Save Big with VIDA

Rachel Willis, who has been running her business for about eight years, got to purchase her first commercial refrigerator this spring to help her grow her business, Cakes by Rachel. Rachel and her husband participated in the VIDA (Virginia Individual Development Account) program which they found out about from another local entrepreneur, Stephanie Murray of ULA Tortilla, who was able to take advantage of this program several years ago.  VIDA participants take classes and then can save up to $2,000, which is then matched 2:1 by the state.

Rachel, a chef for over 25 years and originally from New Jersey, now calls Crozet her home.  She graduated from The New England Culinary Institute, has cooked in France and worked in many wonderful restaurants throughout her career.  She got married and started a family and farm in Virginia with her husband and has been pursuing her love of culinary arts ever since creating one-of-a-kind cakes for all sorts of special occasions.

With her first commercial refrigerator freshly installed in her quaint restored downtown Crozet bakeshop, Rachel says she will be able to continue growing and offering more things like pies and specialty birthday cakes to her customers.  Rachel recently started what she calls “Cupcake Wednesdays” which was inspired by her foodie neighbors, Mark and Vickie Gresge of L’Etoile Catering, where she sells cupcakes by the twos and fours and leaves them in a cooler for people to pick up on her porch.  Mark and Vickie offer a similar service with their well-known homemade soup varieties.  Now on the way home from work, people can stop on Jarmans Gap for locally made soup and cupcakes. (check out this article about them in The Crozet Gazette: page 7)

Rachel said she wanted to use the program to make a difference in her business. “It really has taught me that I can put away $50/month and it can add up to something. I am just so grateful for that and also for the money matching”.  Rachel and her husband saved $775 which means they received a match of $1550, bringing their total savings to $2,325.

Rachel hopes that the rest of her VIDA savings will go towards purchasing a dishwasher which will help free up some of her time to let her do what she does best: bake beautiful hand-crafted cakes for the local community.