The first-time venture of sisters Carmen Rodriguez and Gina Madera aims to combine the rough edges of Brooklyn with the smooth taste of cupcakes in a variety of flavors, all baked by Carmen.
“Just this past summer we decided it’s time. We’ve been doing this for a while with friends and family and it just got to a point where it was just too much,” Rodriguez said.
The business started at home out of Carmen’s love for baking cakes, which were often enjoyed by family and friends. But it didn’t take off until she lost her job two years ago.
“My heart didn’t want to go back out there,” Rodriguez said. She was debating whether to look for another job in retail, the industry where she spent 25 years of her life, or start her own business. “I’ve learned so much out there in the retail world and I was tired of working for other people and making sure that their businesses take off the ground.”
It was time to do it for herself. With the vision, the product and the response, Carmen set off and Gina, came on board to back her up.
“She had the vision, she had everything but I just kept seeing the response to everything that she was putting out and last summer we sat down and said, how much do we need? What do we need to get started?” Madera said. They looked at spots before anything got off the ground and quickly found one at 335 Union Avenue.
“You have to live as though it is, so that it will be,” Madera said. “We quickly started assessing and said it was going to be ours even though we didn’t have the money. We loved the spot.”
More importantly, the location was close to home. Growing up a few feet away, the sisters still know people from their building and the roots were too strong to let go of.
With financial help from their mother, an aunt and an old friend of Gina’s, the marketing and plans for Brooklyn Cupcake began.
Brooklyn Cupcake is setting themselves apart from the rest. With flavors like tres leches, dulce de leche, flan de queso, mango, rainbow cookie, tiramisu and the signature Brooklyn red velvet, the sisters are infusing their Puerto Rican and Italian roots into the baked goods.
“These were just the flavors we grew up with in our household and it’s nothing extraordinary to us. Little did we know that on the Latin side it would be a huge hit,” Madera said. The sisters have already received calls from Latin radio stations and caterers, demanding the goods.
And it’s not just about baking it their way. They plan to give customers the opportunity to create their own cupcake. And in addition to providing the sweet treats for birthday parties for all ages, weddings, baptisms and communions, the sisters are thinking of giving back.
“We made a pledge that we will continue to help children once a month at least by donating to a child’s charity… we hope to be in a position where we can ask the community to rally together to do something good,” Rodriguez said.
Brooklyn Cupcake also delivers. The sisters make it their duty to make every single delivery. “For every customer that I’ve got, I know who they are. When I see them now, we kiss we hug, I know their families, I know their stories,” Rodriguez said.
They are also thinking of hosting children’s parties at the store and if all goes well, they’d like to open up a satellite store or even take their cupcakes to the truck.
“Some people say cupcakes are a phase or a fad or whatever but I think that the traditional cake is these days,” Rodriguez said. “Only because if you could order 100 cupcakes and I could allow you to choose 10 different varieties why would you choose to have one cake when you have 150 guests. You’re guaranteed to have something that they’re going to like.”
The grand opening of Brooklyn Cupcake will be held on June 4. The sisters are hoping to employ a flash mob to celebrate their tasty venture, which though full of sweetness remains grounded in the urban feel of Brooklyn.
“We’re just not so pink and fluffy. We’re totally urban. We grew up on the streets of Brooklyn; we’re into stainless steel,” Rodriguez said. “Call it whatever you want but we’re all about Brooklyn.”