Like many modern bakers, Kim Kroll of Crave Cupcakery Bakery, learned her craft from her family. After honing her skills for many years, Kim decided to start up a business. Keeping with the theme of her baking education, Kim made her baking business family-oriented, offering events like teddy bear tea parties and Mommy & Me cupcake play dates. With a new storefront open, and plans for a truck on the way, Crave is already making a name for itself in upstate New York.
Name: Kim Kroll
Location: Bloomingburg, NY
- How did you get started baking cupcakes?
In my Grandmother’s kitchen. I was not actually allowed to cook until I was 18. Coming from living with four generations of very strict Sicilian women, and no men in our family, I guess you can say I knew my time would come. So I watched and learned.
- Do you have any training?
Just from my Great Grandma Josie, who was a scientific wizard at baking. She taught me all I know, even in her elder years closing in on 94 years of age.
- What other kinds of products do you offer?
We are a full-line bakery with a very small homestyle, but upscale, breakfast, lunch, and weekend brunch menu. We specialize in gluten-free goods, made from scratch on site. Our rural community has no bakery for miles and miles so there is a calling for well-made baked goods, tarts, pies, and occasion cakes.
- Do you have a signature cupcake, or a personal favorite?
Oh yes. My first and favorite is my citrus ricotta yellow cupcake with real lemon cream cheese frosting. Don’t forget the zest!
- What is involved in the Mommy & Me play dates you offer?
It's awesome. Families, teen dates, grandparents with their grandchildren. All are welcome. We have them come in and decorate their very own chef’s hat, put on their disposable apron, and wash up, while I get their activity ready. They can decorate cupcakes with piping bags and different tips, and use several types of edible and none edible embellishments to adorn their cupcake trio. They can roll out sugar cookie dough and learn the art of royal icing flooding, make some holiday sugar cookies, or even a brownie and chocolate pizza pie. We teach them cleanliness and skills through measuring, mixing, and portion control. Moms love it. Sometimes I think they get more out of the bonding experience than the kids.
- Any other special events you offer or plan on offering in the future?
We do Lil’ Chefs culinary birthday parties; dress up tea parties with etiquette lessons and real bone china for woman of all ages; And dress up teddy bear teas for the kids. They just love it.
- What is the best business advice you've ever gotten?
You must be at your cafe. People want to see you and will come to purchase from you because they want to see you grow. No matter how tired you are, show up. It really does make a difference.
- Any advice you wish someone had given you before you started?
Understand that even a cupcakery is considered a restaurant/bakery. And know your client and the customers’ needs, including their economic views and/or situation. Waste is a terrible thing in our industry.
- What’s the most difficult aspect of running your own business?
Getting customers to understand who we are and what we offer.
- Do you work with original recipes? How do you come up with those?
All family secrets.
- Any goals for expansion?
This summer, I will be receiving a Main St grant. That will give a lower income person a full-time job and a chance for me to get advertising funds and hopefully a food truck. Upstate NY is a rough area to get any type of start-up going, but so far so good.
- How do you market yourself?
Facebook, word of mouth, a small web site, local newspaper interviews, outdoor signage, coupons, and I have an email list.
- How does social media play a role in your business?
It keeps our loyal followers up to date and gives us a chance to let new organizations know what we offer. Such as the celiac groups.
- Any cupcake horror stories?
The first day I opened my first location, which was a little cafe in the front of my consignment shop, I stepped on the brakes too hard and all the cupcakes flew into the front seat. The second part of that day, I was set to deliver my first order to a local organic winery. I had just adopted a tea cup Maltese from the local humane society shelter. The owners of the winery were dog lovers and asked me to bring him with me. He was snug in his seat belt, so I left the car running and went inside to tell the crew I was there with my new creations -- dark cherry and merlot cupcakes and chardonnay and apricot cream cheese cupcakes. We all walked out to the car only to find my new friend covered in six dozen cupcakes, rolling in their pastel colors, with pink footprints all over the car. They laughed. I cried. They sent me home with a bottle of wine. Then my new friend sat on my shoulders the entire way home licking his paws. At least he was happy!