CHOOSING A HAPPY DAY, EVERY DAY
By: Krysta Kearney
One woman, one drive, one passion. An entrepreneur of 14 years. An inventor, published author, award winning filmmaker, mother, pinup and cosplay model and professional photographer... Yes, one woman! A woman who does all this and more, one who exceeds even her own expectations, always reaching, ensuring that all her entrepreneurial ideas become reality and that the spirit never dies. Lorraine Toth creates something out of nothing, is a seeker of change and inspiration and a follower of happiness and spiritual guidance. The Moxxi spirit runs in her blood, always pumping ambition and following the pathway to her heart.
“I’m the kind of person that gets an idea, and jumps in…I don’t hesitate.”
In 2006 she decided to leave the corporate world. Already, she had spent nine years miserable, at a job she didn’t care for. Did it teach her a lot? Yes. Did it help her learn what she truly wanted to do in life, to be fulfilled? Sure did! After having climbed up the chain obtaining her real estate and broker license, she realized she could take her learned skills and expertise, and put a twist on them, do things her way and work for herself. Toth loved the human connection that the job brought her but she was lacking her own identity within the work at hand. Unable to let her creative juices flow, she decided to drop everything and set forth on her own, a new adventure, one woman, one dream.
“It was a huge energy shift. Going from the predictable, (selling predictable apartments) to helping a drag queen one day then interacting with a cancer patient the next, it was awesome.”
Her grand opening came, a retail boutique shop right on Central Ave in Albany, NY where she specialized in selling wigs, hairpieces, lingerie and jewelry. Everything that she felt was lacking in her previous job was happening, it felt right. She was able to be creative, share her passions and help others while doing it. She was helping people that needed this resource and who were unable to find wigs locally, so many people struggled, she was truly making a difference. Her customers were a wide range of people needing wigs for different reasons, cancer patients, drag queens and your everyday woman.
“I had such a passion for wigs and hair pieces and I saw an opening. At that time, back in 2006 they weren’t easily accessible online so it gave me the opportunity to meet with cancer patients, or meet with drag queens and be like, ‘It's ok, this style would look good on you!’ And I had the knowledge from wearing them myself.”
The boutique naturally led her to exploring other creative outlets which ended up drawing her becoming a professional model. At the time, there was no one in the area modeling in such a fashion, so she decided to take photography lessons which led to her starting her own pinup and boudoir photography business. She loves being on both sides of the camera. Eventually she closed the boutique, it wasn’t doing as well as she had hoped and the photography business (Dollface Studios NY) was starting to flourish. That doesn’t mean her passion for wigs and fashion ever went away, she was able to continue with what she had started and bring it to her next venture.
“I’ve always admired pinup culture. It officially started in 2006 when I did my first pinup shoot, and I realized, like, oh my god, I kind of look like Marilyn Monroe and I’ve always identified with that 1950’s era look and the glamour more than I do the 90’s and the current day.”
Dollface Studios NY was going well, she was immersed in a positive community and was where she wanted to be. She was growing not just in boudoir and pinup photography but she became a wedding and portrait photographer as well. All the while she was modeling too. Then she noticed there was a trend. Her entrepreneurial spirit raised a brow, she saw there was a new craze in the states and knew she needed to jump on it. The cupcake revolution had begun. People were going crazy over gourmet cupcakes and the industry had skyrocketed. Toth immediately jumped aboard and started her own business, Bettie’s Cakes.
"2009 is when the cupcake craze started and that's when I launched. I saw it, and there was really nothing in NY at the time so I was like, ‘Ok, let's do this!!!’ I still marketed it as the pinup retro theme so it all came together with my background of pinup.”
oOver the course of five years, Bettie’s Cakes became a local empire. Not only are the cupcakes delicious, the business has a unique branding. Toth continued her love for pinup culture and the 1950’s into Bettie’s Cakes and people loved the whole vibe. Betty, the spokeswoman for Betty’s Cakes, was born in 2009 when Toth developed the brand. Toth compares her to Ronald McDonald, how he is a fictitious character but is the brand of McDonalds. Just like Ronald, Betty is Toth’s brand identity and she, herself dresses up as her. Betty has always stayed the same, has platinum blonde hair, red lipstick and a retro vibe. Her slogan is, ‘Have a Happy Day,’ which she prints on her cupcake stickers and all packaging. Why not have a friendly reminder, every day, to have a happy day.
“I always tell women entrepreneurs, you are a walking billboard for your company, you are your brand, so why not be recognizable, if I would go out to Stewarts for a cup of coffee people would be like, ‘Oh hey Bettie.’ It’s because I established that brand, that look.”
At one point Toth had over 42 employees and 6 different locations. Cupcakes became her main priority, and her other business ventures were somewhat pushed to the side. Broadway Street, the main bustling drag of Saratoga Springs, NY housed her first location, then a second came at Colonie Center and another at Hoffman's Playland. Then came two mobile locations and one at the Saratoga Horse Race Track. Business was growing, she didn’t stop moving and was continually expanding. People were loving her cupcakes and it seemed like the best move in terms of expansion, the idea of adding locations and broadening Bettie’s Cakes reach. Then things just weren’t working out like she had envisioned, perhaps she was focusing on the wrong aspects of the business and a shift in direction could be good. She found new ways for growth and transitioned the design of the business model.
“I learned that having a lot of retail space and overhead is not good and I am really grateful I pulled out before Covid, because it’s hard to rent when you are only selling a $3 cupcake. It's much smarter the way I’m doing it now and it enables me to work on my other businesses, photography and my invention.”
She became extremely stressed, and was bottling up all of her anxiety. She knew she needed a life change but wasn’t sure how to go about it. In seeking clarity she went to a meditation class which eventually led into her learning Reiki. In 2014 she became a certified Reiki practitioner and she started understanding the energy we take in and give out and how it can affect health. She now can identify this universal energy and use her knowledge to heal emotionally and physically. Since, she has pivoted her motives and has a more harmonious lifestyle. She is much happier and less stressed.
Towards the end of 2014 she closed all of Bettie’s Cake’s retail shops. It was then that she became certified Reiki, after in 2015 she felt like a whole new person. Ever since she has continued with Bettie’s Cakes, just on a special order basis and also fulfilling wholesale accounts. Drawing back allowed her to focus on other adventures in life, new visions and goals she wanted to fulfill. Much of the creativity had been pushed to the back burner and she was able to find it again, get back to doing her photography, work with people in the way that she wanted to as well as continue to find more avenues of creativity.
“Listen to yourself, listen to your body. If you get migraines or anything...you are internalizing the stress, so listen to it.”
It gave her time to write books and even create a couple short films. The first film was based on her first published book, Run, she felt it would make a great film. It was a 4 ½ minute short film that she submitted to various film festivals. While travelling the film circuit it won an award. In 2020 she published her most recent book, Psychic Serendipity. Just weeks after her book signing, everything shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It became a dark time for her, as she is such a people person and thrives off working with the public. Since CDC guidelines have lifted she cannot express enough how happy she is that events are back up and running. It’s so great to be back working with brides, being artistic, out shooting weddings and making cupcakes! She is so grateful to have these opportunities again.
“Now, it's just the constant hustle, going where the money is, finding money to pay your bills. Like all summer I was teaching paint and sip classes, any way to keep paying for my mortgage and all that, I do what I need to do.”
Toth is also a TV show host for a local company called Darn Good Yarn, out of Clifton Park, NY. They approached her needing an on air persona that had a lot of energy and a big personality, someone to host their live show. Every Thursday, Toth goes live on air (very similar to QVC) and sells the skirts. She is face to face with customers all over the world, gets to dress up every week, and even wears a different wig each episode, viewers love it, and her! It’s wonderful.
“It’s all over the world. At times there could be 10,000 people that I’m speaking to, because you know, it’s live just like QVC, it’s all through Facebook and people bid on it, so it’s just awesome.”
The biggest and most exciting project she currently has is her own product that she launched in June of 2021, Sun Camoz. It’s a cleavage protection for women to protect the area of the chest that burns easily and gets premature aging wrinkles. With their three layers of sun protection it blocks out 98% of the sun’s harmful rays. It slows the aging process and is a great alternative to sunscreen allergies. Many women will get botox in their chest to help, but this is a natural way to prevent having to do that, and most importantly it aids in preventing skin cancer! She also has a second product, Cowboy Camo that attaches to hats, hard hats or bicycle helmets. They protect the back neck area from the sun’s damaging radiant heat. One day she thought, ‘How is there nothing out there to tackle these issues?’ Without hesitation she applied for the patent and began working nonstop on her new invention.
“If I get an idea, I follow through. I really believe in the need for this product so I didn’t want to be looking in five years being like, ‘Aww someone else took my idea, NO!!!?!’ I'm gonna take that and I'm gonna own that and I'm gonna go from there!”
It’s been a struggle. The process of getting a patent is not easy. There has been a lot to learn. Toth is familiar with face to face marketing and retail, not with online, it’s a whole new avenue of business. She is learning how to do online marketing and have an online store. Thankfully she was accepted into a prestigious program called IgniteU NY. It’s a business program out of Troy, NY that helps local entrepreneurs develop and grow through events, workshops and classes. They have supported hundreds of local startups and small businesses. Toth was part of the business program for 8 weeks. The wealth of knowledge has been incomparable, the program taught her so much. Now, she is working on getting government contracts for DOT, for Cowboy Camo as well as expansion, growth and customer reach. She already applied for the hit TV show, Shark Tank and had received a call back for season 13, but they decided to move forward with other people. She plans to apply every season.
“The percentages are crazy. It’s something like 30,000 people apply each season and only 100 are chosen. The odds are insane but I'm determined to be one of those 100.”
She applied to QVC as well, every year they have a competition called the Big Find, where they look for new products. Her main goal is to have her own show on QVC, or be on Shark Tank. She is thinking of the big picture, similar to Sarah Blakely, that’s what she would ideally like to see. Sara Blakely is her role model. So who is she? An American businesswoman and philanthropist, mostly known as being the inventor of Spanx. Toth hopes that she will become the Sara Blakely of skin protection, and we have all faith she will!
“People always ask me what I do and I say it’s easier to tell you what I don’t do and that’s lawn care! Everything else is creative and I can do it and I will find a way.”
As far back as Toth can remember she has been a creative entrepreneur. Even in middle school she would paint Bugs Bunny and other characters on jeans and jean jackets, making wearable art. She has been doing it for years, she just never realized she naturally was always drawn to being a self starting entrepreneur until she decided to put her whole heart in.