WHILE thousands of school leavers anxiously await their university offers on Thursday, those who miss out are urged not to despair – a successful career doesn’t have to hinge on tertiary education.
Just ask Daniella Boutros, who at 16 was forced to quit school because of severe dyslexia but has gone on to forge two successful businesses before turning 30.
Today the 29-year-old runs Buttercreme Lane, a high-end customised cupcake and cake shop at Canterbury that includes P & O Cruises, celebrity chef Luke Mangan and the major banks among its satisfied customers. High-school drop out Daniela has forged a popular cake making business Buttercreme Lane in Canterbury. Picture: Jeremy Piper Source: News Limited. Ms Boutros “got away without reading or writing” at Holy Spirit College in Lakemba until the end of Year 11 because of her supportive teachers.
“I did advanced English,” she laughed. “Instead of writing an essay I would do a verbal presentation. My teacher said as long as I understood the concepts he would have to pass me”.
But once she hit Year 12 Ms Boutros knew she would “have to conform” with everyone across NSW so she quit school and started her first business Parcels of Love Gift Shop at 16.
“I did that until I was 21,” she said. “I prepared a business plan and went to my parents and said if you give me $500 and I make that into $1000 can you give me $2000”.
Before long the gift shop was self-sufficient but she closed it down four years later after some personal dramas.
At a crossroads Ms Boutros, who’s parents ran a commercial kitchen, began “baking for everyone” and teaching herself by watching YouTube videos and cooking shows because she couldn’t read or follow a recipe.
“That was the easy part,” she said.
“I come from a large Lebanese family where everyone bakes … it was a combination [of watching demonstrations] and asking everyone can you teach me how to do that?”
Determined to bankroll her second venture herself Ms Boutros worked four jobs before leasing a small shop at Campsie that was scheduled to be demolished in 12 months.
“And then P & O found me,” she said.
“One of the directors came up to ask me if I was interested and a month or so later I did a demonstration in front of 800 people [on a cruise].”
TV appearances followed and 14 months later Ms Boutros has moved Buttercreme Lane to new digs on Canterbury Road, Canterbury.
“I honestly believe having dyslexia was the best thing that could have happened to me,” she said.
“It gave me tenfold the motivation.”
It hasn’t been easy and she relies on her sister or junior staff “to do everything” that requires reading and writing including spelling out on paper all the personalised messages she painstakingly retraces onto her customer’s cakes and cupcakes with icing.
“I hate opening up the mail and filling out forms, I couldn’t think of anything worse,” she said.
“It’s like a lethal injection.”
Ms Boutros said most people took the simple task of reading or writing for granted but it was something that frustrated her daily.
“I struggle where I either avoid it or I find another way,” she said.
Ms Boutros said it was disappointing so many young people wasted their talents.
“I’ve wanted to give up a thousand times, I’ve cried a hundred times,” she said. “I was not passionate about cakes or cupcakes, I was passionate about the people buying them and why. The cake is the centrepiece of the celebration, everyone stands behind the cake for the photo.”