This Thursday, Impact Hub San Francisco hosts Audio Backyard, an alternating showcase of local musicians and vendors that explore Bay Area current affairs through the lens of local creativity.
Cupcakin’ Bake Shop is the realized vision of owner Lila Owens. She started a home-based cupcake catering business in 2007 but the ultimate goal was to open a cute little bake shop where she could showcase her passion for baking to a larger audience.
Lila wanted a fun culture, adorable décor, and artisan baked goods made from high quality, sustainable ingredients. With the awesome support of some key people in her life, Cupcakin’ Bake Shop became a reality with the opening of the Berkeley, CA location in 2014. Check out her interview below:
How did your business get its start?
I’ve been a cupcake connoisseur since the age of 5. I was very passionate about the taste and presentation of this particular dessert from the get go. I baked cupcakes often for family and friends as a hobby and they became very popular. With the encouragement of my sphere and my desire to expand beyond my circle, I decided to combine my entrepreneurial spirit with my passion for cupcakes and Cupcakin’ Bake Shop was born.
What ultimately led you to make the Bay Area the homebase for your business?
I’m an Oakland native and so the Bay made sense for that reason and because it’s a foodie capital.
How has the Berkeley culture impacted you and your business so far as a small business owner?
Berkeley is liberal, chill, and environmentally conscious and eco-friendly. There’s a consciousness around food. I was challenged to deliver an amazing vegan recipe or be overthrown by the masses! I respected that and did so. Also, gluten free options were high on the demand list. Many customers come in with their recycled packaging, which I dig and which is so Berkeley!
Why are local and organic ingredients important to the creation of your cupcakes?
I believe in the old concept of you get out what you put in. Supporting local businesses often means giving back to our local community which is a feel-good aspect of doing business. Also, these products are usually much more fresh than something imported or something that has traveled across the states. We use organic whenever we can because it’s food in its most natural state.
What challenges have you faced as a small business owner of color?
So far not many. I find that folks from all walks of life love our cupcakes and support our small company. As I’m looking to expand, I often wonder if being a minority is a disadvantage when competing for a space to lease.
How do you compete with larger chains to get customers in the doors of your shop?
By remaining authentic and consistent. We use very high quality ingredients and take no shortcuts, even it’s more cost effective. It’s hard to compete with excellence!
What motivates you to go to work at Cupcakin’ Bake Shop every morning?
Well the truth is I don’t have to go every morning any more. 🙂 My awesome staff does most of the baking for me now. But I am working daily behind the scenes on our growth strategy to take us from “mom and pop” status to a notable brand. The vision keeps me going.
Are you currently offering any promotions?
$2 Tuesday! Every Tuesday from 2-4pm our gourmet cupcakes are just $2 each. And now through December 15th if you say your read about us on Impact Hub we’ll throw in a mini cupcake!
What are the future plans and goals for your small business?
Growth! Multiple locations while remaining privately owned.
What is a piece of advice you would provide to someone starting their own business who is also interested in sourcing locally?
Get connected in the community. Be creative with financing. Stay the course despite obstacles. It can be done.
Check out Cupcakin’ Bake Shop’s website here: http://bit.ly/2fWFFJT
Check out Cupcakin’ Bake Shop’s Facebook Page here: http://bit.ly/2fZF3Dv
Follow Cupcakin’ Bake Shop’s Instagram at: @cupcakinbakeshop
To attend Audio Backyard, RSVP here: http://bit.ly/2foJHhj