30 September 2011

Get Back to Where You Once Belonged : Cupcake Camp Paris II

You Coming? Vous Venez?

Sunday, 2 October at Le Comptoir Général
80 Quai de Jemmapes, 75010
RDV for a day of cupcakes, cupcakes and more cucpakes!

23 September 2011

Are You Ready for Some Baseball?

Birthday cupcakes with sports fan toppers for a 7 year-old. I hear he was over the moon when he saw these. :P Happy Birthday Tristan!

18 September 2011

Takin' Care of Business

So, let's see....when I last left off, I was telling you about this space I had seen for my still undecided commercial kitchen/non-commercial bakery/maybe traditional cupcake shop. I visited again with a contractor about 10 days ago and the place was really growing on me. I was starting to feel excited about the prospect of making this my own space and moving in. I'm not a craftsman by any means though I had a rough idea of what construction work would set me back. Until my contractor really started to pull back the layers and take a more profound look around. There are many flaws that are more than skin-deep. I won't get into all of them but here are the top three that I had totally not counted on:

1) The wiring. There's not enough juice in the place for me to install more than 1 oven. And if that was bad enough, apparently the electricity is not up to code and so everything needs to be replaced.

2) There's a monstrosity of a refrigerated pastry case sitting in the middle of what's currently the restaurant portion. It's a freebie as part of the sale. No wonder considering the glass is nicked on one side, one of the doors doesn't close properly and it leaks -- there's water damage on the floor under the evacuation pipes. My original thought was to junk it or sell it piecemeal. Well, when we took a look under it, we noticed the parquet had been cut and removed in order to settle this into the floor. WTF? Who does that? The sad thing is the floor is actually in pretty good condition but both my contractor and a "courtier" who arrived with the real estate agent say the whole floor will need to be redone.

3) The back door looks as if someone barreled into it with a battering ram. The "copropriete" says it needs to be replaced or restored to its original condition. No kidding! Well, would you believe that this was once a double door and at some point someone decided to condemn one of the doors and then built a wall over it. So in order to replace the door, the only way to access the frame is to destroy that wall, take the frame out, put a new door in and rebuild it. Arggh!

The kicker of the whole visit though was during our discussion of installing a "hotte" (evacuation) in the kitchen, the real estate agent disclosed that the "copropriete" has decided that a business causing "nuisances de bruit ou odeurs" will not be allowed. When I heard this, I pointed out that I will be baking on-site and therefore there will obviously be odors emanating from the property. His response: "Yes, but you bake cakes. You won't be cooking with onions or cabbage. You will be making pleasant smells." I didn't even know what to make of this. All I could imagine was doing all the work, spending all this money to set myself up and getting shut down a week later because the building tenants don't like what they are smelling. This is obviously a point that needs to be covered off before proceeding. I'm still hoping I can pull a rabbit out of the hat on this whole thing as the space has such promise. To be continued.....

In the meantime, this past week was insane - I made hundreds of cupcakes for various events, taught a cupcake class out at a company in Levallois and I met with Hard Rock Cafe to discuss a really exciting upcoming project. I was happy for the distraction as my little one head off to school full-time and I was feeling blue about my kids growing up. Here are just a few of the orders that went out this week: LV cupcakes for a birthday party; logoed mini cupcakes for auFeminin.com which were served at the mega fashion show Galeries Lafayette pulled off this past week; cupcakes for the launch of a new association called ProudToBe Entrepreneur, and mini cupcakes for a pre-screening of The Gruffalo movie at Forum des Images (they're decorated with rice paper that show a still from the film.). Have a good week everybody!

11 September 2011

Sunshine on My Shoulders Makes Me Happy

Today was a cold, rainy day here in Paris. I couldn't help but feel it was the tears of so many gone so soon falling from heaven. Today is a day of imminent sadness and mourning in the US, and my heart breaks thinking about the devastation, the darkness, the emptiness that was left behind. I grew up in NY and the twin towers were an integral part of the skyline to me -- their symmetrical lines and simplicity, a solid mass that just always were.

Then one day the unimaginable happened. I was there when they came crashing down...just like that. Did anyone think it could happen? And as they toppled, the promise of thousands of lives was left unfinished. Lives extinguished for no other reason than because they showed up for work that day. Try as I might, I will never be able to erase the horrific images from my mind.

The sun came out today just as my daughter went to blow out her birthday candles. So much light and love filled the room. I am grateful that on a day of so much sadness, I have a beautiful life to celebrate.

Sending hope, serenity and sunshine to all those whose loved ones were lost on that fateful day.

09 September 2011

I'm Coming Out

A few years back, I had planned to open a cupcake store. I started writing a business plan, I attended several reunions at the Chambre de Commerce and I signed up on a few different real estate sites to get alerts on properties that met my criteria. Then I found out I was pregnant, and so those plans kind of went out the window. In the interim, I started my small business, first as Little Miss Cupcake now as Sugar Daze, and I have watched my two babies grow practically side-by-side. My real baby heads off to school this week and for the past several months, I have been thinking about what this means for my business baby.

If any of you were in France over the summer, you know what a lousy summer it was weather-wise. I was stuck for about 10 days on the West Coast with my kids in the cold and rain with nothing more than a few cable channels and my iPhone to entertain us. One afternoon as I was going through my spam mail, I saw I had received a list of available properties from one of the sites I had signed up with all those years ago and having nothing better to do, I opened it. A quick scan of the properties and 1 in particular popped out at me. Here in France, if you want to rent a commercial space, one of the things you will encounter is the "droit au bail" or the right to a lease -- usually an exorbitant fee that needs to be paid upfront in order to then have the pleasure of paying a monthly rent. This droit au bail....not so bad. And the rent? well, I could swing it with my current revenue as a part-time business. Imagine if I worked more like full-time?

Upon my return to Paris, I called up the realtor and I went to visit the site. It has a lot of promise. Subsequent visits have shown some flaws which are more than skin-deep but we'll see what the contractors have to say. I'm still terribly torn about not being "accessible mom" like I have been for the past 8 1/2 years. I worry that while traveling down this path, I will never see my kids again. In all honesty, I figured this next step was still a few years down the road. But then I saw what I think is an exceptional deal, and my heart told me to check it out. I'm also still debating what exactly I want this space to be....a site with a commercial kitchen? A space where I can offer classes? A traditional store? Time will tell. And maybe this whole thing won't go anywhere. But since I have so many people write me often for advice on starting a business here in France, I thought I would share this adventure with you and try to document the process here. More to come on this!

Lastly, I have reached out to many of you in the business since starting to explore this idea and I just wanted to say an enormous thank you to Jane, Aimee, Rebecca, Liz, Louie, Sam and Sylvie (I hope I'm not forgetting anyone). Your help and advice has been invaluable! And also thank you to Lindsey, Bryan, Meg, Jennifer and Lili -- my friends and cupcake fans! I so appreciate the time you have taken out of your busy schedules to help me and share some encouraging words.

I've Got the Brains, You've Got the Looks, Let's Make Lots of Money!

Good news! 3 weeks out and we have just over 1500 cupcakes pledged for Cupcake Camp Paris 2! We've just finalized our pricing for the day and I wanted to share that with you.

This year, as a sponsor, the dining network site COlunching.com will be helping raise money for Cupcake Camp Paris 2. By signing up on the site for the event “COCupcaking at Cupcake Camp,” participants can benefit from the VIP GOLD pack. The best part is that for your prepayment of 12.50, COlunching will match your contribution, so for each VIP GOLD pack purchased, 25 euros will be donated to Make a Wish (note: limit 20 participants for matching donations).

The VIP GOLD pack includes an empty cupcake box and 4 tickets you can exchange for 4 cupcakes among the hundreds available. You’ll also get 1 ticket for the tombola - winners will select among dozens of donated prizes like a cooking class at La Cuisine Paris, boxes of cupcakes from Scarlett's Bakery or yours truly, or 30 euro gift certificates from Mathon. But most importantly, VIP GOLD Members have access to the cupcakes 30 minutes before the event opens to the public, giving you first dibs on the best cupcakes and the best tombola prizes. If you want to come later, there will also be a VIP express line that lets you enter immediately with your box ready to be filled. Some great perks,, no?!

Unlike last year where you paid a set door fee, entry to Cupcake Camp Paris 2 is free -- come on in, browse, have a drink if you'd like (available for purchase at the bar). If you want to eat cupcakes though or participate in the tombola, you must buy either the VIP Pack through COlunching.com or purchase a welcome pack at the door. We will be offering 2 different welcome packs inside Le Comptoir Général: silver or bronze.

The silver pack for 10 euros includes:
- 1 empty box for your cupcakes
- 3 tickets to be exchanged for 3 cupcakes
- 1 ticket for a try at the tombola

The bronze packe for 7,50 euros includes:
- 3 tickets to be exchanged for cupcakes or the tombola -- your choice.

Once you have purchased a welcome pack, additional cupcakes and tombola tickets will be available for 2 euros each. Empty cupcake boxes will be available for 1 euro, but again a welcome pack must be purchased before any cupcakes can be consumed.

So get ready to eat some cupcakes and help us raise some dough for Make a Wish!

02 September 2011

In the Mood for Love

6-inch Chocolate Squared layer cake with gumpaste heart bow. Ordered for a "romantic"weekend. I Love Paris!