Excerpted from Single. Women. Entrepereneurs.
IBJ Book Publishing, 2011
By Dr. Erin Albert
Cupcake founder and owner Kristin Kuhlke Cobb has been featured in the recently launched book Single. Women. Entrepreneurs. Here’s an excerpt from author Dr. Erin Albert’s interview with Kristin:
Q. The most important question first: can you overnight your cupcakes?
A. We can, but we try not to. Our cupcakes are baked fresh every day with only fresh ingredients – no preservatives. So to ship we usually need to freeze them. Also, we cannot control temperatures during shipping and our cupcakes come with a giant swirl of icing on them—real icing, made with butter—so they don’t fare too well in the heat or if they get tossed around. We were featured on Martha Stewart radio a while back and had to ship them up to NYC for the interview. They ate the cupcakes on air and said they were delicious —but I can only imagine how they might have looked!
Q. Congratulations on getting married! They say entrepreneurs attract other entrepreneurs—did you?
A. Yes, he is an entrepreneur. He owns his own architectural firm. I found that to be an attractive quality in him, and we have very different businesses, but we can bounce ideas off of each other. I actually met him while I was setting cupcakes up for a wedding of one of his friends.
When I left the corporate world I was dating someone else. He couldn’t believe I was going to start my own business with the little money that I had. He told me I needed to have two million dollars in the bank to start a business. I thought, if I had $2 million in the bank, I wouldn’t needto start my own business. It always makes me chuckle to think about him.
Q. Were your parents entrepreneurs?
A. No. My dad recently passed away, but he was so proud of me through all this. It tickled him to hear about what I was up to with the business. My mom was a music teacher and she doesn’t have this entrepreneurial bone at all… it just blows her mind. My dad was a salesman and a navy pilot—he could build anything, do anything… he was Superman! I have that in me because we remodeled [a few] homes together and he also helped me start the first store.
Q. I love your idea about donating yesterday’s cupcakes to charities.
A. This is really important to me, because I feel very blessed by God to be where I am. With this opportunity of business ownership and success, I feel very responsible for giving back to my community and teaching my staff the importance of that. Without the community supporting me, I wouldn’t be here. I want to build a business, but I really want to make a difference.
Because we bake our cupcakes fresh every day, we had to decide where all the leftovers would go. You can touch a lot of lives with a little treat. [While I was] in the cell phone business, I figured out that about 80% of the people were coming in to complain. I decided I wanted to do something that makes people happy!
When we can take the leftovers somewhere, like the Ronald McDonald House or another charity, it makes their day. We now have an employee whose sole job is working out all the logistics of the donations for each store each day. Also, we’re trying to piggyback onto local nonprofit efforts. I know that getting involved helps the community, but really, at the end of the day, getting involved gives me more than what I give in return.
This year, we got involved in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Cupcake was a gold sponsor, and we were involved in several ways. We sold paper cherries in the store for $1 each. I originally printed 100 paper cherries for each of the three stores we had open, and they all sold out within two days, so we had to print more. We ended up selling over 3,000. We also had a special commemorative cupcake that we sold every day in October. For each cupcake we sold, $1 went to Susan G. Komen Foundation. We sold over $4,000 of those cupcakes. We donated mini cupcakes to various events, and had a team in the race too.
We’re also getting involved in kids’ programs at schools about how to grow food and be conscious of what they eat. We believe in fresh ingredients. We are partnering with Share our Strength, the Great American Bake Sale, and Family Circle—they help us figure out how to get more involved locally. I’m so impressed with TOMS shoes and their business model: the idea of giving something away when something sells. So, for every party we do for little girls or every baking party for kids where they learn and decorate their own cupcakes, we’re trying to go to an underprivileged area of the city and also throw a party.
Baking was such a family thing for me. There is a nostalgic feeling of family and togetherness that kids should be part of in order to see what a true joy baking can be. That’s what we are on the path to do; to try to become very involved in the community.
Read the rest of Kristin’s interview in Single. Women. Entrepreneurs. (PDF) or in the book, available in bookstores, Amazon, and BarnesAndNoble.com.