B2B ID: Valerie Hansen, Frosted Swirl Cupcakes
NAME: Valerie Hansen
JOB TITLE, COMPANY: Owner/head baker, Frosted Swirl Cupcakes, sold from a mobile store around the Valley.
WHEN THE BUSINESS STARTED: 2011
WHAT YOU DO: My goal is to put a twist on classic flavors and offer customers a unique cupcake like S’mores, Chocolate Salted Caramel and Andes Mint. I want customers to leave wanting more.
EXPERIENCE: Baking in the kitchen by my mother’s side is something I can remember clearly and have always cherished. Before each holiday party and family gathering, we would spend days creating all kinds of desserts, breads and entrees for everyone to enjoy. Looking back on it now, it’s obvious which things I loved to make and eat the most: desserts.
THE MARKET: All cupcake aficionados. The market for cupcakes has grown drastically over the past few years.
HOW YOU REACH OUT TO IT: Our mobile store, a truck, visit many fairs, festivals and markets in the area. We also offer our location and flavor updates on Facebook, Twitter and our website.
WHAT FINANCING HURDLES HAVE YOU FACED AND HOW HAVE YOU HANDLED THEM? I wasn’t faced with the same financial hurdles as a traditional bakery, but there was still the need to secure financing for the vehicle, equipment and ingredients. Local banks offer some great small business loans, and I was able to take advantage of their programs and receive financing to get my business under way.
KEY TO SUCCESS: I had something different than most: traditional cake and frosting recipes that had been handed down through my family, paired with the new and creative flavors I love to invent. I knew that my cupcakes would stand out even more by committing to baking with the highest-quality ingredients, sourced from local farmers and businesses whenever possible. Last but not least, my plan consisted of making my business mobile so I could bring my creations right to my customers.
CHALLENGES: Every town or city has different licensing permits for whatever event I may be doing. Also, this is also a new concept in our area and explaining to people how it works is challenging sometimes.
MISSTEP YOU LEARNED FROM: Not aligning flavor selections based on the “target market” for an event. One example of this was bringing Chocolate Salted Caramel to a children’s event: big mistake. For an event like that I now bring the children’s favorites like Birthday Cake or Cookies & Cream.
WHAT OTHERS COULD LEARN FROM YOU: That having a passion for what you do really does make the difference and drives you to go that extra mile.
WHO HELPED MENTOR YOU PROFESSIONALLY: My family has always been so supportive of my love of baking and driving me toward making my dream come true.
TOP GOALS FOR 2013: To continue to bring my cupcakes to events all over western Mass. and to also grow in the wedding industry. I am also always striving to create new and exciting flavors to bring to my customers.
ADVICE FOR OTHERS SEEKING BUSINESS SUCCESS: I believe in order to be successful, you must be passionate about what you do. That would be my No. 1 suggestion.
PARTING THOUGHT: Taking the plunge from a 9-5 office job to breaking out on your own and starting a business is challenging. However, once you have a “taste” of fulfilling your dreams and making people smile there is no turning back. Doing what you love is the most rewarding job ever!
This B2B ID was compiled by Jamie Faulkner, a student at Westfield State University who is an intern at Beetle Press in Easthampton. Beetle Press offers writing, editing and graphic design services. www.beetlepress.com. To suggest a subject for B2B ID, email Beetle at firstname.lastname@example.org.