Cupcake Charlie's is an award winning Cupcake bakery, with two locations on Cape Cod- and more scattered around New England. One located in the heart of Mashpee Commons, and the second being in Falmouth. To us Cape natives, a visit to Cupcake Charlie's not only brought us so much excitement, but it also allowed us to make so many fun and sweetly filled memories. To those of you who are traveling to the Cape on a vacation, this has to be one of the most important destinations that you absolutely MUST visit. From Cupcakes, to Frosting Shots, to Trifles, there is bound to be something your sweet tooth will dance for joy about.
This week, I had the privilege of speaking with Penny Lessa, the woman that makes all the magic happen. Penny takes Pride in her bakeries, and no two items are ever alike. The quality of her work is extremely important to her, especially when it comes to pleasing her loyal customers.
1.) Prior to Cupcake Charlie's what type of industry were you involved in?
"Prior to Cupcake Charlie's I was in the Real Estate business. I was a licensed agent and was living 10 months out of each year in Florida, in the Disney area. I specialized in the sale of vacation homes, and investment properties. The market, at the time was very strong, and I met with great success.
I was also licensed in MA - getting my start from another wonderful female entrepreneur here on the Cape, who has been a successful agent for years! Before all that, I was working as a Sales and Marketing Director at a wonderful Assisted Living Community here on the Cape"
2.) Did you undergo certain education or training to have knowledge in the culinary (or baking?) field?
"I have no formal training or background in the baking industry. I am completely self taught, (with the help of my Mom and some old neighbors) and have had a love of baking since I was a kid. My Mom used to make stunning cakes out of our home when I was growing up - and I remember hoping she would have left over frosting so we could eat it on crackers when she was done. (you should try it sometime - it's DELISH!) It took almost a year to perfect all the recipes for Cupcakes Charlie's, and then learning how to actually operate the business, was one day at a time, once we opened the first shop."
3.) What sparked your interest in opening up your own business, let alone, a dessert business!
"I am definitely an entrepreneur at heart. I had tried my had at a few business in the past - but none lasted long term. You know that question . . . "If you can do any type of work, what would it be?" Well my heart always said own a bakery - but not being formally trained made the thought of that overwhelming. But, once the real estate market crashed, and I had to decide what was next for me - I decided cupcakes!! (with a bit of encouragement from some special family members!) My husband looked up cupcakes online and saw that a few shops actually already existed in CA, NY and Las Vegas - so immediately I felt it was a risk worth taking!"
4.) How long have you been in this business?
"We just recently celebrated 10 years in business! Boy how time flies. I feel so blessed to have made it this long. In those 10 years the business has grown to 5 shops. There are 2 on the Cape (Mashpee Commons and downtown Falmouth), one in Plymouth, down on the waterfront, one in Patriot Place in Foxboro (home to the New England Patriots) and one in Newport, RI. We have evolved over these 10 years from just cupcakes - to now offering custom cakes, whoopie pies, butter bars, cake pops, frosting shots, trifles, cookies, Gluten free and Vegan products, amazing soft-serve ice cream, and more. We even offer Nationwide shipping, which is a great option for the tourists that live far away to get their cupcake fix. I love baking - so often, when I am in the shops, I love to experiment - so you never know what I might whip up and put in the bakery case . . . most recently, mini key lime pies - YUM!"
5.) Why Cape Cod? Have you lived here your entire life? Or were you just looking to relocate.
"The location was a hard decision. We were still living 10 months in FL, and 2 months here on the Cape. But in the end, I really felt the support of family was needed (and all my family is in MA). We live on the Cape, so a location here certainly made sense. I felt like foot traffic was going to be important to the success of the business - so that is what drew us to the Mashpee Commons - and it has turned out to be a great decision."
6.) What do you prioritize most when it comes to creating the actual products in store?
"Flavor is of the utmost importance. I definitely consider myself a Foodie, and feel like I know what tastes good. So I won't stop until I think a product tastes absolutely as good as it can. That is so important to the success of keeping long term customers. They can recognize good quality and good flavor, and they appreciate it! After flavor is the design. It has to look good too, to catch a persons eye - If it doesn't look appealing, or fun or creative, then people just won't buy it."
7.) What would you say is your biggest success thus far?
"My biggest personal success thus far has been choosing the right husband. Having a good man that builds you up, encourages you and helps you follow your dreams is really one of the keys to a happy life - I am Blessed to have found a wonderful man! After that is Cupcake Charlie's of course. I am so proud of how it has grown and am always amazed when I meet a person for the first time, near or far and they actually know about Cupcake Charlie's. It is an amazing feeling! We were on the beach in FL one time and got to chatting with some people - and they actually knew of us - its crazy sometimes."
8.) What would you say is your biggest weakness?
"My biggest weakness is being a perfectionist - the worry of not being perfect, or failing at something new, can sometimes hold me back - or take me 3 times as long to do, because I want total perfection."
9.) Could you ever expand past the Cape and Plymouth (south shore) area? Would you want to if so?
"We could certainly expand. I have a shop in Newport, RI - that is a little over an hour away. But the further you get, the harder it is to manage. And I never want to lose the quality of product or the original vision. I really don't want to disappoint any customers."
10.) What's your favorite part about the business? Do you have a "favorite" product?
"Choosing a favorite product is tough. I am a sweet-a-holic - so I pretty much enjoy it all. If I had to choose a favorite cupcake - I would say either our hostess with the mostess or our Cream Puff - both soooooo good!! My favorite part of the business is getting to be creative. I love coming up with new products or new flavors - it is so fun to experiment!! And if it makes it into the case - I LOVE when it makes a customer happy - so satisfying!"
11.) What goes into the planning and creating of new flavors, ideas or styles? Are they produced often?
"A lot of times, creating something new just comes on a whim. The mood for experimenting strikes, and off we go . . . Other times, it is based around a holiday of some sort. For example, August is National Peach Month - so I have spent a couple of weeks trying to perfect a NEW Peach Crisp cupcake. This new flavor will be released in shops on Aug 22nd, which is Nation Eat a Peach day."
12.) Do you have any advice for future entrepreneurs in hopes of starting their own businesses?
"I would say that if you are looking to venture out and open your own business - be sure to choose something you love to do and are passionate about - as it will become a huge part of your life, so you are going to want to enjoy it! And be sure to do whatever it is - the best it can possibly be done. You want to be the front-runner. Treat your staff with respect, and let them know you appreciate them. Build them up and mentor them - And treat your customers like gold! You have to know and always remember, that without customers, you will have no business -"
Already visited? Tell us YOUR favorite Cupcake in the comments below!
Editorial Contributor and Marketing Specialist
My first post as an Editorial Contributor and Intern was about the lovely, and talented Crystal Vazquez and all about how much of a wonderful business owner she has become. To refresh your memories, she is the owner of her very own on location beauty team. Her salon provides exceptional hair and makeup services on site for a variety of different occasions, just about anything you can think of. Weddings, proms, portraits and editorials. One of her most prized accomplishments is the success of her own mobile boutique, Addy Elizabeth!
This makes Crystal a two-time entrepreneur, and today we are celebrating her because the one year anniversary of Addy Elizabeth is finally here. Addy Elizabeth is a trendy, chic boutique that was found around New England. Crystal Vazquez created this mobile boutique as an option for women to shop trendy styles at a reasonable price. It's perfect because it gives you the option of shopping online, holding a private party, and even following them to certain events, or hold a fundraiser for your own cause or organization. All items are hand selected and shipped from Massachusetts. In other words, no two items are alike and you really will not be able to find anything here, anywhere else! With having your own business, a while back Crystal told us that she believed that she was able to get where she is today by always being sincere, and making sure that they give back to the community yearly, and she would never put a dollar amount before her clients and staff. She could definitely be making more right now, but she really runs her business with heart and it comes back full circle. She told us that she is already living her wildest dream with the company, which is actually why her she started this second venture. This time around, here is what she had to tell us about Addy Elizabeth's Anniversary.
"This year was definitely a learning experience. I forgot how hard it was to start a business and am still working on finding a balance to work both businesses equally.
I struggled a little because I listened. Sounds weird right? I carried things based on suggestions from my shoppers. Specifics included "you carry too many basics, shoot for the boutique pieces" sizing recommendations also came in. I would carry the sizes requested or the pieces suggested and they sat there.
So I scratched listening and focused on my original business plan.
(remember back in January when she commented on the fact that to keep it simple and be patient. We often feel as though we have to make our business plan more complicated as time passes, but sometimes your original plan is the best plan ;) )
My shoppers comment on how I style them in pieces they would never touch, and they end up loving it. That is why I do this. To help women find their style, to help them be seen, and to give them a confidence boost. The right outfit will lay out the foundation of your mood for the day."
Stay tuned and make sure you Chiks stay in the loop!
Keep a lookout on her Instagram: @Addyelizabethboutique
And on her website www.addyelizabeth.com/
New releases go LIVE today at 8PM EST ☺
Trust me you will not want to miss this!
Editorial Contributor and Marketing Specialist♥
The month of August tends to often be looked down upon, the negatives come into play of summer being over, school vacation is almost done, no more long beach days and ice cream shops aren't open til 11pm- but August is actually one of the best months out of the year in my opinion.
We are actually required to take a legitimate chill pill and kick back and relax. The law says so. On August 10th it is National Lazy Day, and on August 15th it is National Relaxation Day. So take a personal day, sit on your porch, read the sunday paper and enjoy the warm weather while it lasts. This month the 10th falls on a Friday (could be dangerous) and the 15th falls on a Wednesday (could be nice to take a break mid week), so make sure to mark them down in your calendar so that you're already ahead of the game.
Start planning and planting your bulbs for the fall now if you want them to really succeed. Your veggie garden is going to be in full bloom this month however, now is the time to really start harvesting. Your tomatoes are just ripe enough for you to pick, your melon is at its peak for sweetness, your corn, blueberries and raspberries will all be at your ready so go grab and enjoy them before any other little garden critters do!
There's tons of recipes that you can incorporate your food into as well, ones that you normally wouldn't even think of.
You could make Summer Corn Cakes:
You'll need, 2 eggs, beaten
A Ruby Raspberry Slaw would pair great with your Summer Corn Cakes.
ALSO: The weather is completely in its prime. Huge perk. We get a break from the sweltering heat and humidity, it's a nice change from sweating your tail off in July and being soaked by rain and torrential downpours in June. With the weather being at its best, it gives you a lot of opportunities to go out and take advantage of all of the sales it has to offer. Shopping for office supplies is always super inexpensive as well as decor and furniture. If you're like me, you have Bed Bath and Beyond coupons linked directly to your cell phone, and at least once a week you're getting text messages for 20% off. Staples commercials will be running constantly, reminding you that your moment to be reunited with a new desk calendar or set of gel pens is only moments away.
August is also the most popular month out of the year for babies! As an August baby, our birthstone is Peridot. Which symbolizes strength and healing powers. It also symbolizes being a protector from all things negative and evil, therefore we radiate constant harmony and happiness. From July 23rd til August 22nd, your zodiac sign would be Leo, and a Virgo from August 23rd til September 22nd.
Have any August benefits or perks of your own?
Be sure to share them with us on our Instagram, or Facebook page or in the comments below!
Editorial Contributor and Marketing Specialist.
Hey girl (and guy), we're so glad you're here. ChikChat is our version of an informative blog that keeps you up to date on all the latest marketing trends, fabulous business owners and must-see hot spots. So pour a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and get comfy.