Connie Cupcake produces confections that are absolute works of art, most of which look too pretty to eat, like this gorgeous Seaglass Apple. Connie is a self-taught artist and baker with an incredible vision for whimsical treats that will enchant all party-goers. If you’re lucky enough to live in the Toronto area, you can order from Connie several months in advance. If you live in the rest of the world, you’ll just have to drool on your computer screen and hope that Connie will someday expand and ship worldwide. I was so happy to have the chance to ask Connie a few questions, including how she ended up with a successful business making things like this jaw-dropping Silver Seahorse Tiered Cookie. Enjoy!
Connie, have you always loved to bake? How did you get your start, and what did you do before you started your business?
I was ridiculous in the kitchen. I was only good for starting fires and making a mess! But once I started planning my wedding, I was determined to make my own dessert for that special day. After many tears, frustration, and persistence… I finally “got it.” After the wedding day, I just couldn’t help myself! I had to keep baking. I guess you could say it became an obsession. My entire career has been spent in television, first as a graphic artist and then as a commercial producer. I really think the baking became a way to release my creativity in a world outside of the television!
A lot of people can make cupcakes and cookies, but I’d venture to say that most people can’t do what you do with confections. Where did you learn your skills, and how did you adopt your unique style?
I learned my skills from getting my hands dirty. I am not a classically trained pastry chef, so anything I wanted to accomplish, I had to teach myself. The internet is an insanely valuable resource! As far as my unique style, I supposedly had a strong visual approach when I was an artist. I never really understood what “look” or “style” was. It was just something that came out naturally in my work. I suppose it’s the same in my dessert design.
I noticed that you work with several different photographers. Do you do any of your own photography? Do you have everything photographed before it’s devoured?
The photographers I’ve had the honor to work with are just so insanely talented, so it’s hard for me to say what I do is photography, rather than simply documenting something before it’s devoured! Most of the images you see are shots taken by me in the wee hours of the morning after a confection is completed. I try to shoot everything, but it’s always a mad rush, and some desserts just fall through the cracks.
You’ve had some great press and received some wonderful reviews recently. How do you feel those have helped your business?
I’m flabbergasted by the attention, actually. I try to thank everyone who supports me, whether it’s a new “like” on Facebook, a blogger who cares about what I do, or a magazine willing to have my stuff in their glossy pages. I feel so lucky that anyone is noticing at all! (Thank you, by the way!) I think any press, or more importantly, word of mouth is the most significant thing for your business. It’s not you marketing yourself to the world. It’s the world sharing their honest thoughts about you. That’s always far more powerful.
I read that you’re booked up until Fall 2012 for orders. With all of those orders, do you still do everything yourself, or do you have a staff now?
I still design, bake, and style everything myself. I would LOVE to get to a place where I could hire a creative team to help me grow and expand. I have had an offer from a very talented lady to work as an intern. Boy THAT gets me so excited! But with the studio opening on Monday, the chaos is too much. We’ll have to wait for some breathing room…
Your confections are all beautiful on the outside, but your blog doesn’t say much about what’s on the inside. Will you custom-bake anything, or do you stick with a few classic flavors?
I really want my cakes to taste like “mama” made them, so I stick to traditional flavors and then I go crazy with fillings. Mousse, custards, fruit fillings, flavored buttercreams, and puddings are what get me excited.
What’s your all-time favorite thing to create?
Something elaborate and over-the-top for someone I love. That always makes me feel warm and fuzzy.