Vegan cupcake success secrets with Sticky Fingers Bakery owner and Cupcake Wars winner Doran Petersan

Vegan baker, owner of Sticky Fingers Bakery and Cupcake Wars winner Doran Petersan talks to Portfolio about her business's success, and the rise of the cupcake:
To what do you attribute your success?

You can make your shop as pretty as you want, and ambiance is important. People could come in and feel comfortable, but unless you have good food, nobody’s gonna come back. So it’s the food that keeps bringing people in. The best compliment is when someone comes in not knowing we’re a vegan bakery and, after eating, they still have no idea it’s a vegan item. There’s no preconceived notion that vegan is not gonna be good. The minute you tell someone that’s not vegan that they are eating a vegan product, they are looking for something to be different. I’m not here to tell people what they should eat; I’m here showing them what we can do and then letting them make the choice.

Cupcakes are a luxury: Has the economy hurt your business?

They are luxury items, but they are considered acceptable and affordable luxury items. You're talking about a cookie or a cupcake that costs $2 or $3. We’re not talking about jewelry or shoes. Where we feel it is our largest orders—our catering, our wedding cakes—that’s where people try to cut back. But as far as our retail, we see more of the lesser expensive items being sold, but our daily retail sales have grown.

Has the cupcake wave started to wane?

It has not weakened at all. It is huge. After six years of cupcakes, they are getting hotter and hotter. We’re not just a cupcakery; we look at other people and the amount of product they are putting out, and I am flabbergasted. A lot of times if you have a fad it runs out in two or three years, but it’s not. People are absolutely in love with these things. We can’t keep them on the shelves. If it’s a fad, I’m not concerned because we have a full-service bakery, and when it’s the next thing you just ride the wave. I’m confident we can do anything as a vegan alternative to a non-vegan item. Whatever it is, you figure it out.

Visit Sticky Fingers at on Facebook and be sure to check out her new cookbook, Sticky Fingers' Sweets: 100 Super-Secret Vegan Recipes.

from the Sticky Fingers' Cupcake Wars viewing party