CupcakesTaketheCake

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Interview with Nicole Mahler of Fat Daddy/Bangerang Bake Shop

A few weeks ago, we told you about Fat Daddy Bake Shop, the extra-delicious mail order cupcake company on Etsy. Well, now they've changed their name to Bangerang Bake Shop due to legal issues (but the old URL www.fatdaddybakeshop.com still works). We emailed owner Nicole to get the scoop on her fabulous cupcakes. She restocks them every Tuesday morning, so head on over (warning: they sell out fast!); if the cupcakes aren't available yet, check back in a little while. They are totally worth the price, and even though I live in New York, where there are plenty of cupcake bakeries, I'm tempted to order again! Do also sign up for their newsletter to keep up with their thriving business. They will be closed April 30th to May 5th (for a birthday vacation).

Another thing that I think is wonderful about Bangerang and many of the other cupcake bakeries we see is that moms are starting their own businesses, enabling them to work from home or spend more time with their kids, and bringing ingenuity and creativity to their business endeavors. In this case, what's also great is that anyone anywhere can enjoy her treats; often when we post about a specific bakery, it's far away from where we live, and that means that unless there's a reason to travel to that city, it's unlikely we'll get to try that bakery's cupcakes.


NIcole with her son Jonathan

Name: Nicole Mahler
Age: 36
Location: Chicago, Il
Occupation: Baker/Cupcake Inventor
URL: www.bangerangbakeshop.com

How long have you been baking? When and where did you hone your recipes?

Each recipe starts out as just a "oooooo that would be good" idea. Through trial and error I get to something I like and then let friends and family have at it. They give me their feedback and ideas and we run with it.

How did you come up with the idea for selling cupcakes in a jar and how much trial and error was involved in getting them the right size and configuration to ship them? When did you open and how has the business grown since then?

Well, they say that necessity is the mother of all invention. There's just no other way to do it. We sold our first cupcake in July of 2007, since then it's grown by leaps and bounds. I've enlisted the help of my brother to help with the business side of things. I had no idea there was sooo much involved in starting a business. I never thought I'd be able to say "Don't mess with me, I've got a great lawyer on retainer" ;-) I good legal/business team is priceless though. They suggested I get a trademark going on our name, only to find out that our name could pose some problems. And that's what led to our new name Bangerang Bake Shop. I've had to slow things down a little since my recent pregnancy. We're planning to explode once I can get back in the business full time.

Fat Daddy Bake Shop cupcakes in a jar

How far in advance do you bake the cupcakes? How do you make sure they're fresh?

For the moment, I only sell on Tuesdays, this is so that I can manage my time closer. Building a little person and running a business really wears you out some days ;-) I bake on Sunday-Thursday , and ship them out within 24 hours. Because I created my recipes to be so shelf stable, I have a good window to get the cupcakes packaged and shipped.

How many cupcakes do you bake in a given week? How much time do you spend baking?

At my peak I did over 1700 cupcakes in the month. That was a rough month. These days I do about 250 every week. I spend about 4 days baking every week. Again, In our best month I was baking pretty much 10-16 hours a day, 5 days a week. The other 2 days were spent packing and shipping.



You recently introduced a new system for selling cupcakes in which you update each Tuesday and once that week's batches of cupcakes are sold out, customers have to wait until the next week. At what time of day do they get listed? Do you have any helpful hints for those wanting to order them?

I really struggled with making the ordering process this tight, I just couldn't keep up with the orders while I'm pregnant. We'll be back to full speed and taking orders every day, just as soon as our new bundle of joy is with us and I'm back in shape to handle the demands of the business.

How often do you introduce new flavors? Which flavor or flavors are ordered the most? Which is your personal favorite?

I absolutely love coming up with new creations. My dream some day is that I can just work in my test kitchen all day while the day to day orders are being worked by my baking team. The most popular is definitely the PMS/Chocolate Overload. My personal favorite? This is a tough one, my cupcakes are like my babies, I love each and every one of them in their own way!

You recently reintroduced your cupcake The Jitters, which is caffeine-infused. Can you tell us a little more about what's in it?

Coffee ;-) My whole family is coffee crazy, this was simply a must in our menu.


The Jitters


How many cupcakes do you ship in a given week?

Right now while I'm pregnant, I'm shipping about 250 cupcakes a week.

Where do you ship to most often? Where's the most far-flung location you've shipped to? Do you ship to military/APO addresses?

I have customers all around the world. We've shipped to Australia, Japan, and yep, we've sent a bunch to APO's for our soldiers!

You told The Indie Path that you plan to start offering other cupcake sizes. Is there any more word on that?

This one falls into the "post pregnancy bucket" :-) This is definitely an idea we want to explore further.

You sell your cupcakes on Etsy and have received 100% positive feedback a total of 2,361 times. To what do you attribute your success and customer satisfaction? Do you incorporate customer requests and suggestions into how you run your business?

First and foremost, it's the understanding that without our customers, we don't have a business. It's really just that simple. Providing only the highest quality products keeps those customers coming back. We absolutely listen to our customers. I'm lucky enough to get regular feedback from our customers. The big business chains pay big money to focus groups for similar input. The difference is that my customers really care.

Mail order cupcake from Fat Daddy Bake Shop

What are your favorite and least favorite things about running Fat Daddy Bake Shop?

My absolute favorite is the baking. I just love to bake! I don't know that I have a "least favorite" but the order processing through PayPal has a lot of room for improvement.

What's been the most interesting story you've heard from a customer about why they were ordering your cupcakes?

That would have to be the customer who ordered 35 cupcakes over a two week period to her husband for his 35th Birthday!

You're planning to open up a bakery in Illinois sometime this year. Is there any further news on that?

Our plans have been put on hold until after I have this little bundle of joy!

Do you have any general advice for those trying to ship their own cupcakes?

Uhuh, go to www.BangerangBakeShop.com :-) I'd be more than happy to do it for them!

What do you do when you're not baking and shipping cupcakes?

These days, sleep or eat...LOL

Why do you think cupcakes have become so popular recently?

We get and give cakes for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, showers and just about any other event we want to celebrate. Cupcakes are our own personal little celebration. They help us celebrate the good times, and bring us through the not so good times. Happiness in a cake for one :-)

Carrot cake cupcake from Fat Daddy Bake Shop

And now for some personal questions…

How often do you eat cupcakes?

Everyday!!!!!

What's the best thing about eating cupcakes?

Each of my cupcakes is like a little party in a jar...and who doesn't love a party???

What's your favorite type of cupcake?

I love anything with citrus...or chocolate...or caramel...or vanilla...oh that's way to hard to answer when your pregnant! Lol!

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

I just love they you can have one perfect serving with a cupcake and you don't have to share. ;p

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

Nope, I think they are pretty much perfect!

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

I couldn't imagine *not* baking my own cupcakes. I love the whole process, from sifting the flour, to beating the batter. It's just a beautiful thing to see when they come out of the oven all warm and puffy. Most days I can't even wait to frost them...nothing compares to a warm right out of the oven cupcake.

What's your first cupcake-related memory?

My mom would make my brother and I these amazing white cupcakes with jello in them, topped with cool whip! Every year we would bring them to school for our parties and everyone would devour them.

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

I think the most fun I've had has been coming up with all of my cupcake recipes. Each and every recipe I created to withstand a decent shelf life while still using all natural ingredients.

from Fat Daddy Bake Shop

9 comments:

micala said...

Hi Rachel! I saw one of your posts where you were ordering cupcakes from this shop so I ordered some as well. They arrived yesterday and I couldn't have been happier. They were fantastic. I got a coconut and a strawberry - so good! I also documented the whole opening/tasting process on my flickr account at http://www.flickr.com/photos/micala/sets/72157604671460384/

the southern hostess said...

I can't wait to try these! Great interview.

Anonymous said...

i thought baking out of one's house was illegal? this is something i looked into. please check with your state/city laws before you decide to bake and sell out of your house.

Anonymous said...

Not a fan of the new name. Too bad they had to change it...

Jessica said...

Fun interview! I can't wait to order some!

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Anonymous said...

Great interview! Very interesting and 'well done' with knowing (and learning) your boundries!! Nothing like 'burnout' to knock a great business down and out.

Regarding the mention above of "...baking out of one's house was illegal". Nationally, there are strict rules regarding Health permits, licencing and being sure baked goods for profit are baked in an approved commercial kitchen. Check with your local city or county for guidelines.

Does anyone really like all the rules and expense that go with running a legally operating business? I doubt it. However, for those of us that are running our business 'by the book' (paying rent, property taxes, meeting food handling regulations, paying utilities etc) and not operating under the radar, we would appreciate it if everyone strive for operating by the same rules. It's simply the right and fair thing to do!

Plus, it keeps your business on the offense should a complaining customer decide to take you to court for a bad baking-experience!
A sad but very real possibility.

Anonymous said...

Great interview. I had to check out their site for myself. Oooo they really do look tasty. Per their website they are a licensed bakery.

Melissa said...

Yum! I know what I'm getting some people for birthday presents!

Regarding the lame people talking about the legality of her business...try reading her profile, she is licensed.