“Be strong, be creative, and go for it. Don’t hold back and do it to the fullest,” says Annette Starbuck, the founder of Goodie Girls, a Los Angeles based catering company. This business owner’s confidence and passion for baking helped get her where she is today, the season 3 premiere winner of The Food Network’s Cupcakes Wars. Stardom has sparked a boom in business and Starbuck loves every minute of it.
When asked how she got started, she replies, “It was random, honestly.” Her journey began in 2007 with a love for cooking and culinary classes. She decided to take cake decorating classes and baked at home. It became a family pastime as her step mother helped out and her father airbrushed cakes alongside her. It was when her friends and family asked her to make cakes and cupcakes that she realized she loved baking.
In September of 2010 as cupcakes continued to gain popularity, Starbuck began focusing her baking on the tiny treats. She found that they were less time consuming as opposed to cakes and the small size allowed her to use unusual flavors. “I really like ingredients more than decoration. So for me cupcakes are easier to experiment with different flavors,” she says, “people aren’t as willing to experiment with more exotic flavored cakes because they are scared people won’t eat them.” Some of Starbuck’s creative cupcakes include PB&J, Hostess, Bubbly, and Strawberry Lemonade. She prefers to stay away from fondant, but uses something more sparkly to spice up cupcakes, editable glitter which can be found on all Goodie Girls cupcakes. The business’s playful name was thought up in during a random phone conversation with her stepmother. “It was perfect,” says Starbuck.
Starbuck’s cupcake career began with a few cupcake camps and a challenge. On November 7, 2010 she participated in the Cupcake Camp IE in Riverside, California in which over 600 people attended and helped to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Inland Empire Charity. Less than 2 weeks later Starbuck took part in the Cupcake Camp L.A. which she prepared hot chocolate themed cupcakes with different toppings like marshmallow, salted caramel, Chambord and peppermint. Goodie Girls won 2nd place, got much needed exposure and an invite to the Drink.Eat.Play Cupcake Challenge. For this competition the challenge was preparing a big order, 1300 cupcakes. Goodie Girls made chocolate salted caramel and pineapple upside down cupcakes for which they received numerous compliments and even more orders in their inbox the next day.
It was at this event that Goodie Girls was asked to be in the 3rd season premiere of Cupcake Wars. In the show Starbuck was joined by her basking assistant, Jackie Brubaker and competed against long time bakers and store owners. Goodie Girls survived two challenges to get to the final round where they had to create a Kentucky Derby themed display topped with one thousand cupcakes in a matter of 2 hours. The winning cupcakes included blueberry pancake, chocolate strawberry champagne, peaches and cream, and mint julep which embodied the freshness and different flavors Starbuck loves to incorporate in her baking. Her background in culinary is what she believes helps the most when creating recipes. “It’s really hard to make a great cupcake. I just figure out flavors, what I would and wouldn’t like together,” says Starbuck.
In the end the Goodie Girls flavors and simple horse shoe and rose decorations won over the judges. Not only did the Goodie Girls win ten thousand dollars, their cupcakes were served on the red carpet of the 137th Kentucky Derby. “It’s really indescribable to win Cupcake Wars. It’s like a dream I thought would have never come true. Going from this little online business to being able to open a storefront means the world to me,” says Starbuck.
Soon after Starbuck served cupcakes at the Kentucky Derby, a tornado hit Churchill Downs leaving many without shelter. Goodie Girls teamed up with Churchill Downs to repair and rebuild what was demolished by donating 50 percent of all proceeds from the sales on their blueberry pancake cupcake that helped win Cupcake Wars. The Goodie Girls have also posted a link to the Churchill Downs Foundation Charity on their website. “It’s kind of my way of giving back,” explains Starbuck, “I think good things happen to good people. I always try to give back and do what’s right.”
Following the victory on Cupcakes Wars, Starbuck created a website and began shipping orders of cakeups throughout the world. Although Goodie Girls is currently baking from a commercial kitchen, they are hoping to have the grand opening of their Glendale, California storefront in early August. Goodie Girls continues to prepare cupcakes for events. Some events the company has been a part of include the Judy Moody Not so Bummer Summer movie premiere with Radio Disney and the Sephora Girls Night Out for Fox Searchlight Movie The Art of Getting By.
Starbuck’s sudden success in the cupcake business has drastically changed her life. Simply walking down the street isn’t the same. “I have so many fans,” she says, “I take pictures with anybody that wants to, I absolutely adore everybody. It’s such a good feeling to be able to inspire 13 year olds that want to bake.” Now that her focus has become effectively running Goodie Girls, she only works part time as a manager of an architect firm in Malibu. “Every job I have ever had doesn’t compare to the joy and excitement I get from baking cupcakes and running this business,” explains Starbuck, “I can’t even sleep because I’m so excited.” The entire experience has been a dream come true for Starbuck, “I have always wanted to own my own company.” Her family has been very supportive and her husband, pop singer A.N.T has been her backbone. Starbuck is a firm believer in achieving what you put your mind to, “I don’t think you can fail at something you love.”
Written by: Erica Mink