Just a spoon full of sugar…

Jul 07, 2010 No Comments

With names like Romeo & Juliet, Moulin Rouge, Coconut No. 5, and Chocolat Chic you wonder if you are in a couture atelier or a gourmet couture cupcake store. Shayrin Badillo and Cristina Valdes are the owners of Cupcakes Nouveau, the chic store in Coral Gables. The ladies unique friendship, creative vision, classy cupcake recipes and loads of sugar make for some successful gourmet cupcakes!

How long have you two been friends?

SB & CV: 3 years, since we decided to start making cupcakes.

Before Cupcakes Nouveau, what were you two doing for a living?

SB & CV: Cristina was writing and doing marketing for an online beauty store. Shayrin was a School          Psychologist for Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

When did you begin Cupcakes Nouveau?

SB & CV: We began while we were working full time at our other jobs.

When did you decide it was time to open up your cupcake shop?

SB & CV: We were offered a 6-month lease on Miracle Mile in Coral Gables, and we couldn’t turn it down.

Were you scared?

SB & CV: Of course, we still are.  Everything has moved so quickly that we’ve never really given ourselves time to process it all. We just keep moving forward.

Did you think it was going to be less work to get it up and going?

SB & CV: Yes and no. We knew it would be a lot of work, but we couldn’t predict what it would all entail. There was a lot of “learn as you go,” as neither one of us had any experience in the business world.

What would you say was the most complicated part about opening up your shop?

SB & CV: The amount of hours we had to put into it, considering we opened up our shop without any employees. We had to rely on a lot of our friends and family to help us out until we got the ball rolling and we were able to hire staff.

Excluding the rent, how much money would you say someone would need to open up a successful cupcake shop?

SB & CV: $50,000 – $100,000 Construction and commercial grade equipment are the bulk of the expenses.  A lot of research goes into choosing the best products, building materials, and contractors to get the most out of your time and money.

What is the most expensive part about opening up your shop?

SB & CV: For us, we would have to say construction costs. We slowly accumulated all of our supplies and equipment, so it wasn’t as large a cost all at once.

If you knew how much work it was going to be, would you still have opened a shop?

SB & CV: Yes, but looking back, we would have planned more efficiently. There would’ve been a lot more planning and research before embarking on this adventure. From construction to business plans, there was a lot that we did not have any experience in and had to learn as we went along.  Our business grew so quickly that we couldn’t even project the types of obstacles that we would encounter.

Whose idea was it to start it?

SB & CV: We both wanted to start a creative business of our own. We tossed around several ideas before agreeing on gourmet cupcakes.

Did you ever think you would end up having a business together?

SB & CV: Not in a million years.  We barely knew each other when we decided to go forward. Shayrin’s husband and Cristina’s boyfriend grew up together, so we were acquaintances, but not close friends.  The idea to start a business together was born in the midst of our new-found friendship after we spent a girl’s weekend together celebrating a mutual friend’s upcoming wedding.

Was it ever difficult to open up shop with each other?

SB & CV: Of course, spending so much time together and away from our family, undergoing the most stressful experience of our lives up until that point, takes a toll. It was a lot of long hours and sacrifice and our relationship became one of sisterhood, including everything from the love and laughs to the arguments and tears.  Sometimes even laughing and crying at the same time.

Tell us how you guys got started, and how you ended up at this great location you have now.

SB & CV: Cupcakes Nouveau began in 2007 out of Shayrin’s home kitchen.  We started testing recipes and playing with flavor combinations.  A close friend helped us design a website to up our customer base from more than just friends and family.  Our business soon took off.  We quickly realized that Shayrin’s kitchen was not big enough to keep up with the number of orders we had. We found a local bakery that would let us come in after hours and use their ovens to keep up with our orders.  Soon this was not even enough.

There was an opportunity to move into a storefront on Miracle Mile under a 6-month lease, just as we were discussing whether we should move forward with a retail storefront or rent a private space and focus solely on catering orders.  We eagerly seized the opportunity and by the end of our lease, we had determined a storefront was the way to go and consequently saved enough profit to finance construction in a permanent retail location. We have since moved to our current location on Le Jeune Road in Coral Gables; we opened our doors in late November.

How long have you girls been at this location?

SB & CV: We opened our current location in late November of 2009.

How long did it take you to find your delicious recipes?

SB & CV: Our initial recipes took us just a few months to develop, and our family and friends were very happy to be test subjects. We’ve developed several new recipes throughout the last couple of years and continue to come up with new flavors.

How many orders do you get per week?

SB & CV: 25-30 custom orders per week

What are your flavors?

SB & CV: Vanilla Elegance, Chocolat Chic, Moulin Rouge (Red Velvet), Coconut No. 5, Autumn Spice Carrot Cupcake, Cinnamon Swirl, Romeo & Juliet (Guava filled), Caramel Bonbon (Dulce de Leche filled), Southernmost Cupcake (Key lime filled), Café Mocha, Chai Tea, Piña Colada, Cookies & Cream, and White Chocolate Raspberry Delight.

Any new developments or news that you would like your customers to know about?

SB & CV: We were just recently featured on the Food Network’s new show, Cupcake Wars. Our episode aired June 22nd; we competed to make cupcakes for an OK Magazine Sexy Singles Party. We were chosen from hundreds of applicants nationwide, and the only cupcake company chosen from South Florida, so we’re very proud of our accomplishment.
We were flown out to L.A. in March for about 5 days to film the episode. It was an incredible experience and we had a great time. It’s almost surreal to think we started this business only 3 years ago, baking out of Shayrin’s kitchen, and now we can say we’ve been on the Food Network. We certainly could not have predicted this kind of success and recognition in such a short amount of time.
We’ve received an amazing response from old and new cupcake fans all over the country. In fact, the Editor-at-Large for OK Magazine personally emailed us to let us know she thinks we should have won. That was an awesome email to receive. We’ll be providing her and her daughter with cupcakes this week since they’ll be in town.
Other exciting news includes being chosen for inclusion in a publication entitled, “1000 Ideas for Decorating Cupcakes, Cakes, & Cookies.” Several pictures or our work were selected, and the book is scheduled to be released in December of this year.

What are your favorite flavors of cupcakes?

SB & CV: “Chocolat Chic” is our all-time favorite cupcake. We eat one every day.

Do you ship your cupcakes?

SB & CV: We have just recently begun to ship our cupcakes nationally.  We can only ship a small quantity of cupcakes at a time due to shipping restraints. The cupcakes must be shipped frozen, packed in dry ice, overnight delivery to ensure they arrive fresh and intact.

What do you love the most about your company?

SB & CV: We love the creative freedom to customize each client’s order.  It’s also nice to be the one calling the shots and have control over the future of our business.

Who does your advertising? And if you do it yourselves, how do you do it?

SB & CV: We do our own advertising. We utilize social networking mediums, such as Facebook and Twitter; search engine marketing; email promotions; we participate in charitable events; and word of mouth is the best promotion we could ask for.

What is your ultimate goal?

SB & CV: Our ultimate goal is to expand our business with multiple locations, participate in more television programs, and one day publish our own decorating books.

What tips would each of you give to anyone who would want to open up a cupcake shop?

SB & CV:Do plenty of research and planning and be prepared for long hours and a lot of hard work. Aside from that, it’s up to you to find your niche in the cupcake world; figure out what it is about your company that sets you apart from the rest.

Edited by: Bridgette

4712 South Le Jeune Road
Coral Gables, Florida 33146
Miami, Sweets
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