A cafe based in Nutley, N.J. called Stuffed Cupcakes offers 163 varieties of cupcakes stuffed with unique fillings that are baked in. This bakery has officially been around since 2008, but has its roots in another café that started in the early 2000s. With 20 employees, founders Maureen and Keith Jaret have been able to grow from their one retail location to be offered in dozens of other shops located in New Jersey, New York City and New York State. With their unique cupcakes, the shop has been able to gain recognition from celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, David Tutera, Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, Rachael Ray and the Cooking Channel.
BusinessNewsDaily talked to Jaret about making a career from cupcakes.
BusinessNewsDaily: Why did you start your business? What opportunity did you see that you thought you could take advantage of?
Maureen Jaret: In August 2005, my husband and I had a café that served breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch and did catering. I made a chocolate cake that everyone loved, but no one ordered it for their parties, because I could not decorate it or write Happy Birthday on it. So I took a decorating class at Nutley High School and learned to decorate a cake. Our Sunday brunch brought in around 200 people, and we decided that they were our perfect audience to test our baking skills.
We decided that making cupcakes and decorating them would be a great way for everyone to see what we could do. Our cafe was always ahead of the curve with the latest trends, so we thought that stuffing the cupcakes would be fun. We created a peanut butter mixture that we baked in a chocolate cupcake, and I got up very early to decorate all 200 cupcakes. When people finished their breakfast, I gave them a cupcake and told them that we now decorate cakes. Their response to me was, ‘forget about the cakes, what is the flavor tomorrow?’ I looked at my husband and said, they want a flavor tomorrow and he said ‘okay, we will give them a flavor tomorrow,’ and that was the beginning.
BND: What was the one moment where you thought you had something on your hands?
MJ: Ed, who is now my production manager, used to work behind the counter selling cupcakes. At the time, I was only making about three dozen cupcakes every few days and I was always running out of them. We were a full-service cafe, and the cupcakes were not my priority. Ed kept telling me about how customers were getting upset that we keep running out of cupcakes. I kept saying I just don’t have the time. After he kept urging me to make more cupcakes, we got his aunt to bake the cupcakes at night, when we are closed, and I would stuff and ice them in the morning. It was the start of something beautiful!
BND: How did you try to grow and handle that growth?
MJ: At first it was difficult, it was like the Star Trek episode with the Tribbles, there were cupcakes everywhere! We had them on the top of the soda machines, on top of our shelves and it was just crazy. In January 2008 our landlord died and his daughter sold our building. We found a new location, but it was not big enough for our cafe. While we were trying to figure out what our next plan was, an interesting thing happened. People would come in and ask for our cupcakes. We wondered, can we just sell cupcakes? It was very scary, but we were up for the challenge.
BND: What can other businesses learn from your story?
MJ: You have to listen to your customers and employees above all else.
BND: What advice do you have for other businesses or entrepreneurs?
MJ: You never know where your inspiration will come from, but when it does come, you need to recognize it and act on it. Don’t wait because it might be too late.