Cupcake interview with Wes Hurt of Austin's Hey Cupcake!

Name: Wes Hurt
Age: 29
Location: Austin, Texas
Occupation: Cupcaketeur

You went from selling electric scooters to selling cupcakes. When did you first get the idea for Hey Cupcake! and why did you decide both to focus exclusively on cupcakes and set up shop in an Airstream trailer versus a traditional storefront?

I was on a trip to New York City and went by the famous Magnolia Bakery. I waited in line for 20 minutes or so and was amazed by the enthusiasm and anticipation emanating from everyone in line. That day I started planning what would eventually be Hey Cupcake! I decided to sell cupcakes out of an Airstream versus a traditional retail location for a couple reasons. 1) The overhead was substantially less. 2) I wanted to create something new, something people would talk about.

How much baking experience did you have prior to opening in March 2007?

I had never baked a cupcake in my life before February 2007.

How much time do you spend baking per day, and how many cupcakes do you sell on average?

In the beginning I baked, but honestly I am not gifted in baking. I’ve since hired two talented bakers. Currently we’re selling about 700 cupcakes a day…and we’re growing. It’s a blast!

What are your hours, and what’s your busiest time of the day and week?

We’re open Tuesday-Thursday 12 pm to 9 pm (or sell out) and Friday and Saturday 12 pm to sell out). The busiest days are Friday and Saturday. We’ll be open on Sunday soon.

Were you surprised at the instant success of Hey Cupcake!?

We actually didn’t experience instant success. I renovated another stand prior to the Airstream and located it on the University of Texas campus. I had an “awesome” spot with probably 10,000 students walking by it on a daily basis. However, on our best day we sold 350…on average we sold 75 to 100. Honestly, it baffled me. Students with the munchies, unhealthy diets, sweet tooths, etc…but they didn’t want cupcakes??? Although we were a little discouraged, we decided to go “all in” with the Airstream. Again, it’s been a freakin’ blast!

You also do home delivery. How early should people place their orders in advance and when do you do the deliveries?

As long as an order is placed by 8 pm the night before, we’ll get it delivered.

Currently, you offer six flavors of cupcakes. Which is the most popular, and will you be adding any more flavors to your repertoire?

The most popular flavor is a toss up between the Vanilla Dream and Red Velvet.

What’s your favorite part of your day, and your least favorite?

Favorite part: talking with my customers and seeing them enjoy the Hey Cupcake! experience. Least favorite: Taking out the trash.

Is there a typical Hey Cupcake! customer?

No, we have all walks of life…Even dogs!

Do you have any plans for expansion? Would you ever make your cupcakes available for sale at local cafes, or do you want to keep them exclusively sold from the trailer?

I plan on only keeping Hey Cupcake! in Austin. I think of Hey Cupcake! as my little baby. I have a few other exciting concepts I’ll be launching in the near future, but this is a business venture I want keep exclusively in Austin.

Why do you think cupcakes are so popular right now?

I think the popularity of cupcakes can be primarily attributed to the success of Magnolia Bakery and more recently the success of Sprinkles.

What advice would you give someone wanting to start their own cupcake business?

It ain’t as easy as it looks, but it’s extremely rewarding. Go for it!

And now for some personal questions…

How often do you eat cupcakes?

Once every couple of weeks. Being around them all the time, I can usually only eat half of one. But…I enjoy my “quality control” responsibilities.

What's the best thing about eating cupcakes?

The icing.

What's your favorite type of cupcake?

The Vanilla Dream.

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

No contest.

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

We’ve done it…It’s called the Whipper Snapper. We’ll inject any cupcake with fresh whipped cream on the spot. Cupcake meets Twinkie.

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

See above.

What's your first cupcake-related memory?

Don’t remember.

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

From time to time, my bakers and I will go outside our kitchen armed with cupcakes and have cupcake wars.

Do you have anything else to add?

Keep an eye out for Hey Cupcake!’s sister company rolling out soon…


Anonymous said…

Very cool!! Is the trailer also where the baking goes on or are cupcakes baked elsewhere and brought in? Just curious! Can't wait to visit Austin again!