Holiday sweets bring back memories of childhood, which we fondly revisit during this time of year. From them, we craft our own traditions and sometimes share for others to experience as well.
Amy Brace, owner and chief pastry chef of Amy’s Cupcake Shoppe shares hers all year round through gourmet cakes, cupcakes, and other delectable treats.
Amy started baking when she was a little girl. She and her mom, and the other ladies in the family would get together during the holidays to bake Christmas cookies. This sparked her passion for baking and – with a little push from watching Cupcake Wars – turned that passion into a reality.
“I have always had a passion for baking but started to make it a reality after watching Cupcake Wars.”
She worked as a CT Technologist at the U of M Hospital for 10 years before deciding to pursue baking as a full-time career.
“Baking provided a change I never knew I needed. Getting to bake for other people’s special events is what truly fills my cup.”
Word spread quickly about Amy’s delicious baked goodies and soon, the demand for her cakes and sweets required a much bigger space to accommodate all the orders. With her husband’s help, they started looking for spaces in Hopkins, and in June 2016, Amy’s Cupcake Shoppe opened their brick and mortar store in Mainstreet. Hopkins, Minnesota.
“In 2014, I baked for my first wedding and was able to do four more weddings that year. In 2015, I baked for 36 weddings and quickly grew out of the kitchen in my house.”
Amy’s Cupcake Shoppe
Amy’s Cupcake Shoppe specializes in gourmet cupcakes, custom cakes, French macarons, and other sweet treats that are always made from scratch and with only the best ingredients.
Their open kitchen design allows customers to come in and watch the magic happen!
The bakery’s menu is a chronicle of Amy’s culinary journey. When she was baking from her home, she would just do cupcakes. Then an order for a wedding cake came in and she did her first tiered cake. As for the French macarons, she spent nine long months of learning and tweaking her recipe before finally locking it down. These three items kicked off the shop to a wonderful start.
“When the shop opened, I knew we would have those three things and go from there. My dad inspired us to make authentic Belgian waffles, so we have Waffle Wednesdays and Saturdays.”
Amy’s Cupcake Shoppe soon expanded its menu to include cookie sammiches, which are two cookies filled with buttercream and other fillings depending on flavor.
“As our customers’ needs ebb and flow, we try to keep relevant at the shop according to their tastes.”
Today, the shop makes all different kinds of desserts for all types of special events. Most of its revenue comes from orders for birthdays, baby showers, bridal showers, weddings, and other occasions. As Amy puts it, “if there’s a celebration, we love to be there!”
The Business of Baking
One of the reasons that Amy wanted to dedicate a space for her baking business is to stay out of her home to separate work and family. She wanted to focus on these two aspects of her life separately. With hard work, she successfully did, and the shop grew more quickly than she imagined.
“We opened the shop and had multiple staff members baking our hearts out. We have grown to three full-time bakers and several house staff members.”
Amy shares that the best part of their success and growth is that she can leave the cupcake shop running efficiently without her having to be there all the time. With business operating smoothly, she can spend quality time with her family during the most important events.
As with most successful businesses, we are left to wonder: what is the secret ingredient to their success? Aside from their good-tasting dessert, it all came down to Amy’s superb management style.
“My management style is very supportive of independence. I have trained people at the shop to trust themselves and to trust each other. There is always room to learn from each person and from every situation. If I can teach them to not come to me for everything, and trust their instincts instead, we are all the better for it.”
Amy’s Cupcake Shoppe has very high standards when it comes to customer service and quality, and Amy makes sure that their values are deeply rooted in every person who works there.
“Once you come to the shop, you are family.”
We were also curious to know what sort of challenges they face and were able to overcome. Here is what Amy said:
“The most challenging part of the business has been just that – business! I am first and foremost a baker at a heart and a CT Technologist by trade. All my knowledge in business has come through trial by fire.
Amy adds that she and her team had to learn how to do everything around the shop, from building out the actual space to marketing the business online and even paying bills and setting up vendors. She made sure that she was involved in every process and fully allowed herself to be immersed in it all, making mistakes and learning from them along the way.
There is much to learn from how Amy runs things in her business, so we asked her what advice she can impart to aspiring bakers and entrepreneurs.
“If you can afford it, find people who are experts at what they do and let them do it. We have a bookkeeper, a lawyer, a social media manager, and a photographer; all of whom are incredible at what they do and who specialize in things I am not well-versed in, therefore creating work for them and peace of mind for me.”
Amy believes that creating opportunities for others and working herself out of the kitchen are among the reasons why she started Amy’s Cupcake Shoppe. It took her a while to get used to doing just admin stuff but the freedom it allowed her to be with family, friends, and even her team is worth the transition.
Custom Labels for Branding and Packaging
Amy’s Cupcake Shoppe enjoys the success they have today by putting in the groundwork that included thoughtful packaging of their delicious products, something that we are happy and proud to be a part of.
Amy shares that her dad, who was working as the shop’s manager when they first started, was the one who found PrintRunner to print their custom labels and that she is thankful that he did!
“Every order we have gotten has been great printing quality. We use our labels on all our packaging. Any box or bag that goes out of the shop has a label on it, from our cupcake boxes to our macaron boxes as well as the packaging for the other treats. Our label with our logo lets our customers know that they are getting quality treats fresh and made from scratch always.”
For custom orders from Amy’s Cupcake Shoppe, simply send an email to amy@amyscupcakeshoppe.
You can also check out their website www.amyscupcakeshoppe.com for inspiration. If you have something else in mind, they are always willing to try something new!
(Photos by Ashley Elwill Photography @ashleyelwill and Poly Mendes Photography @polymendes.)
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