Meet the baker behind the cakes: in this case, 19-year old Lauren Garcia of Sweetly Unexpected, a New Jersey based baking business which currently operates a pop-up shop. But, um, did I mention that in addition to running her baking business, she is a full time student? Curious to learn more about her inspiring story? Read on, sweet friends:
Sweetly Unexpected, you have an interesting story. Mind telling me how you got started? I've always loved cupcakes. When I was younger, I was obsessed with the Pillsbury Funfetti Cake Mix (still am) and I used to make it with my cousins all the time. At around 16 years old, I started making cupcakes from scratch and it took me about two years to truly get my cupcakes to the standards I want Sweetly Unexpected to uphold and I believe that I've been exceeding those standards each and every day.
Do you think it's possible to have two careers--in your case, student and sweetsmaker--at once? As a full time nursing student, I'm well aware of how hard classes get as I progress with my clinicals. But my passion has and always will be baking. With the dedication I have and the support I receive from not only my family but also my friends, I really don't think there is anything I can't do. I've always been taught to put my 110% into everything I do and I am planning on doing just that for both my careers, even when I become a nurse.
What do you do for fun if you find yourself with the day (or a few hours) off? Lately I haven't had any time for myself.. but I love being with my fiance when I have time off. We, both, love movies, going out to eat, going on road trips, and hanging out in NYC. But I love love love to watch Cupcake Wars and go visit other bakeries whenever I get a chance -- it's almost like my hobby.
You don't have your own retail storefront but you have a booth in an existing storefront. How exactly does that work? I met the owners of Vesso Bakery and Cafe through close family friends, who have photographed me since I was 15 years old-- redstudios.tv). They offer European food and some desserts but they didn't offer cupcakes so they were very excited to have me become a part of their business. After partnering up, we agreed that I would set up a booth and sell cupcakes out of their Bakery/Cafe. However, not every week is the same, I rotate cupcake flavors every day as well as make whoopie pies, cake pops, cookies and brownies. Not to mention, we also do Custom Cakes that can be ordered by coming in to Vesso Bakery or calling me and sitting down with me to discuss what their vision is for their cake or special occasion.
How do you eat a cupcake? I like to take the bottom part of the cupcake and put it on top of the frosting. Sort of like a whoopie pie. It's just so much fun that way! It's like another DIY whoopie pie.
What are your signature offerings? I truly believe that my cream cheese frosting is Sweetly Unexpected's signature. But as for the cupcake flavors, I think my guava cupcakes topped with a cream cheese frosting is my signature because it describes both my background (Since I'm Cuban) and the creativity behind Sweetly Unexpected.
What is your personal favorite item on the menu? I've always loved vanilla everything! So my vanilla cupcake topped with a vanilla buttercream (Vanilla Love Affair) is my favorite. Second, would be the guava cupcake (Paradise Island), which is our most sought out cupcake at Vesso Bakery and Cafe.
What are three major goals or wishes for the next five years? 1. I want to expand my bakery to an actual storefront -- my ultimate wish. 2. I want to graduate college with honors. 3. I want Sweetly Unexpected to be a huge part of the community and I want to work closely with organizations that help young children.
What is your business philosophy? Sweetly Unexpected's business philosophy is that at Sweetly Unexpected, quality will never be sacrificed for quantity and that with every cupcake you have, your life will get a little bit sweeter. Any words of wisdom for wannabe professional bakers? You will never know how far you will go with your dreams, if you never make the first step. Dream big and stay positive and good will come your way. I'd also like to say, don't get disappointed when things don't come out the way you want it, with baking practice is KEY.
What's next? Sweetly Unexpected Bake Shop recently signed up for the LivingSocial/Chase grant and we qualified for a 250k grant! If we win, we'd love to open up a shop in NJ near NYC. If we don't, we're still hoping to open up a store.