Austin Babycakes bakery owner interview

Name: Shelly Swift

Age: 35

Location: Austin, Texas

Occupation: Owner, Baker, Designer


How long have you been baking, and how have your cupcake baking skills evolved since you started?

I've been baking off and on since I can remember, but never like this! It's amazing how comfortable I've become. My background is in graphic design, so I've basically gone from 2D to 3D design, and am still working on a style of my own.

How did Austin Babycakes come to be, and what's the cupcake scene like in Austin? How's business going? Is it busier than you'd expected?

My family lives in Seattle and during my first visit my nephew insisted on taking me to Cupcake Royale! Austin is very a young, hip, creative-minded city, with a "locally grown, locally owned" attitude. After my first "cupcakery" experience in Seattle, I just knew I had to try it myself.

The first couple of months was a lot of delivering samples around town and really pounding the pavement. We just started doing some local festivals/events around town for more exposure and I think that will help us tremendously.

Can you tell us more about your cupcakes, and what you mean by "specialty cupcakes?"

We've divided our cupcakes into "classy" and "sassy" flavors, and will probably switch out the "sassy" each season. When we say "specialty" we mean no cake mix or tub frosting . . . nothing you'd find at your local grocery store. Everything is made from scratch, with organic eggs, milk, seasonal herbs, fruits and nuts that we buy from local area farmer's markets.

What is your delivery area, and how early in advance should people place their orders?

Our delivery area is pretty much Central/downtown and just North of downtown . . . although we'll deliver pretty much anywhere and have made deliveries over an hour away. We ask that folks get their orders in by Monday at noon the week needed, and as early as possible for larger orders.

Do you have plans to open up an actual shop?

We do! Not sure when exactly, but that's definitely our goal.

Which of your flavors has been the most popular so far, and do you plan to expand? Do you often test out new recipes while you're baking?

Our most popular flavor among the "classy" flavors is our Sweet Betty (vanilla buttercream cake with chocolate buttercream icing) and our Buttercup (peanut butter cake w/whipped peanut butter icing). Our most popular "sassy" flavor has been Lemon Lips and our Summer Seasonal, Key Lime Ginger. We'll see which seasonal flavors do the best and hopefully leave them on the menu year round!

You say on your website that you do wedding cupcakes; what kinds have you done, and do you see that option growing in popularity?

As far as weddings go, we've done a couple for close to free just to get our portfolio started, but honestly haven't tackled that market yet. With all my friends engaged, I hope to do more in the upcoming year.

And now for some personal questions:

How often do you eat cupcakes?

Once a day, but if I add up all the batter and icing that I eat throughout the day it's definitely more.

What's the best thing about eating cupcakes?

The smile they leave on my face every time I eat one.

What's your favorite type of cupcake?

The more vanilla the better!

How do cupcakes compare/contrast to other baked goods for you?

Cupcakes take the cake!

Is there any innovation you'd like to see made to the cupcake that would improve it for you?

A cooling device that would nix the words "cooling time."

Do you bake your own cupcakes? Or (even better) have someone who bakes them for you?

I bake 'em myself, but LOVE trying others.

What's your first cupcake-related memory?

Well the best one so far would have to be my visit to Cupcake Royale, which sparked my desire to start baking and selling them here.

What's the most fun you've ever had with a cupcake?

Taking a bunch to a friend’s bachelorette party, ha!