Our StoryMatt and I started this company back in 2008 not as a bakery, but as our dream: a mom & pop gourmet market in the neighborhood we grew up in in South Brooklyn. Four days after opening our doors, the stock market crashed and we lost everything: our life savings, our financial cushion, and our potential customer base.
In the spring of 2009 we were looking for a way to get people in the door, and decided to fall back on our pastry training. We had both worked extensively in fine dining for years, and had spent our whole careers seeking the elusive balance between making exciting creative food, and making food that was not out of the financial reach of the average Joe. We had seen cupcakes popping up everywhere, but thought they could stand to be a little more, well, interesting. So we started making them using the same techniques we used to make desserts in restaurants: French buttercreams, pillowy cakes, seasonal ingredients, flavorful & textural contrasts. The goal was to make a high end-style dessert that everyone can afford.
Within weeks, we had people coming in from all over the tri-state area (and even in a few instances cross-country) to try the cupcakes. But as well as they were doing, our the store wasn't designed or built be be a bakery, and subsequently our overhead was skyrocketing to the point where no matter how many cupcakes we sold, it couldn't hold the whole place together. At the same time, we had started to dip our toes into the wholesale business, but there wasn't enough time to devote all our energy to it. And that's when our accountant said "You have a brick-and-mortar store that's hanging by a thread, a cupcake business that could take over the world, and two boys who need their parents. You get to pick two". And the next week, the store was gone.
In November of 2009 we began to rebuild our business with micro-loans from family members (our boys' piggy bank), a borrowed kitchen, our beat-up Honda Civic, and our insistence that we never give up on our dreams, or each other.
By the end of 2010:
- We were named one of the year's Best Sweet Treats by Serious Eats, alongside such pastry gods as Francois Payard & Balthazar Bakery
- We were named BEST CUPCAKE IN NYC by the readers of Serious Eats & Midtown Lunch
- We had the honor of being filmed by James Beard award nominated documentarian Liza deGuia as part of her Food Curated series, and were also selected as one of her picks for one of 2010's best food finds
- We were named one of Food's Rising Stars by James Beard Award Winner Rachel Wharton in Time Out New York
- We appeared in the online edition of Food & Wine Magazine, & editor-in-chief Dana Cowin opened 2011 by appearing on The Today Show with our Chicken n'Waffles cupcakes
- We went from having only two shops that would carry our cupcakes to over a dozen.
And THAT, my friends, is what happens when you DO NOT QUIT.
Not only have we managed to attract a great deal of press- we also caught the eye of Urban Space NYC, who asked us to open up a new flagship retail store in their new Dekalb Market in Downtown Brooklyn. We need your support to help us take the next step in conquering the American Dream.
The Team & The Impact of this ProjectRobicelli's to this point has been just the two of us. Matt & Allison Robicelli: former pastry chefs at hoity-toity restaurants, business partners, husband and wife, parents to two little boys, and kick-ass cupcake makers.
We currently have incredibly motivated apprentices who have joined the business because they have a passion for the business and want to learn. And not only are they learning, they are phenomenal at it. It takes a lot of guts when you're unemployed to get up and try to make things happen- for them, it was the opportunity to follow a career path they always dreamed of breaking into. We think hustle is one of the most important traits in the world, which is why we love our apprentices so much. And the revenue produced from this container will allow them to go from apprentices to paid members of the food business.
If this campaign succeeds, we'll be able to create at least four jobs right off the bat for Brooklyn. If we get busy, there will be even more jobs. I really don't think I need to put bells and whistles on that fact to sell it.
What We Need & What You Get, & Why We Have To Reach Our GoalWe've grown this company by investing all the money we make back into it, growing it a little at a time. A project of this scope is the opportunity of a lifetime, but far too expensive to get off the ground with our bank account. We need:
-A refrigerated bakery case for the cupcakes ($5000)
-Building materials from Build It Green, including: back counter, additional refrigeration, cabinetry, sink, tables, chairs & lighting fixtures ($2500)
-Contractors & permits to complete build-out ($1500)
If we don't reach our goal, that doesn't mean we'll quit (because that's not how we roll). We'll cut and cut and keep cutting from our budget if we have to, but we'll do this somehow. Even if it means that we're selling cupcakes out of an Igloo cooler instead of a bakery case, making you sit on the floor instead of on chairs, lighting the joint with glow sitcks instead of ceiling fans, and covering the walls with posters of Kirk Cameron instead of wallpaper and artwork. But make no mistake about it: THIS IS HAPPENING. We just need your help to make it successful, because no one wants to sit on the floor and eat cupcakes in the dark while staring at Kirk Cameron.
And if you get us to our goal, there are massive perks! Cupcakes! Sneak peaks! Secret flavors! Partial nudity! Who doesn't want in on that sort of action!
Other Ways You Can Help
We need all of you guys to spread the word about this as much as possible! We are on a very tight schedule (as we're only two months from our opening day), so as your donations come in, they'll be going right back out and straight into the container.
If you can't help us with a financial donation, how about some good old-fashioned bartering? We need help with design, build-out, decor and all that jazz. This spot is literally a blank canvas we have no idea what to do with, so if you have any ideas on how to make it awesome and want to make some trades, contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we'll work something out!