The next installment in my It Started With An Idea series needs no real introduction…if you love cupcakes, you’ve probably been to Trophy Cupcakes. With locations in Wallingford, University Village and The Bravern, a pop up shop at Pacific Place and available at every Sounders game there is no way you haven’t come across them.
We’ve been big fans ever since owner Jennifer Shea’s appearance on Martha Stewart and if you do a search on my blog for Trophy Cupcakes, the amount of posts that pop up are a bit embarrassing. In fact, I have a Groupon burning a hole in my pocket for upcoming parties.
But it’s well placed stalking…er…admiration. After all, Martha calls her cupcakes ‘ “Utterly delicious!” ‘ and everyone from The Cooking Channel to every major food magazine here in Seattle has featured them. Let’s find out more about the woman behind the cupcake…
Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
JS – I grew up baking and crafting. I was super into 4-H (the cooking and sewing part) and Home Economics as a kid. My mom is an artist and crafter, so I was also always working on some sort of creative project. I never really dreamt that I would own my own bakery and party shop. I always thought those types of things were “hobbies”.
But I was on a trip in NYC with my girlfriends in ‘96 when I visited my first cupcake shop and the light bulb lit up in a BIG way. I spent the next decade working toward starting my business. With lots of serendipity and support, I founded Trophy Cupcakesin 2007 with my now husband. We have an awesome son who’s 4 1/2 and love traveling together as much as we possibly can.
So…you have a degree in nutrition. How does one go from that to opening a cupcake shop?
JS – Everyone finds that pretty ironic. But actually, my nutrition degree paved the way for making Trophy cupcakes the delicious treats they are. I learned so much about quality at Bastyr University. We studied sustainability, the importance of natural, local and organic ingredients —even the psychology behind food prepared and consumed with joy. It’s magical stuff! I always say the best ingredients make the biggest smiles.
Here in the Seattle area, we love us some cupcakes. How do you continue keeping Trophy Cupcakes ahead of the growing…no pun intended…cupcake pack?
JS – We just stay focused on what we love doing: creating and serving amazing cupcakes. We are constantly raising the “buttercream bar” (as we call it) — challenging ourselves to come up with incredible new flavors and providing legendary customer service. We have a marvelous, can-do team and we all come to work loving our jobs every day.
As a wife, mother and successful business owner, you are seriously juggling a lot. What is your biggest secret to somewhat keeping it all together?
JS – Honestly, this has been my single biggest challenge. It may look like I’ve got it all together, but I fall apart just like everyone else — especially when I don’t take time for myself. I think most moms struggle with finding balance. And if you add wife and business owner to your title, you just have to…HAVE TO…find ways to take care of yourself.
So, every week I “try” to have; a date night with my husband, “unplugged” family Sundays (no phone, computer, iPad, etc.), a lunch with my girlfriends, and a night to myself to go to yoga, get a pedicure or a massage…or all three! I’ve learned the hard way that if you don’t slow down and take time to enjoy life, you’ll be less effective at everything you do.
I heard a rumor you are getting ready to add ‘author’ to your list with a new book in the works…can you tell us a little about it?
JS – Yes, it’s super exciting! I have a book coming out in September, Trophy Cupcakes and Parties! with Sasquatch Books. Obviously, I love cupcakes and baking. But I’m also passionate about parties, crafts and entertaining so I wanted to create a book that shared all of my loves in its pages.
The book starts with Party Planning 101, which walks readers through the steps of planning a personalized and unique event (the “Truly Terrific Theme Generator” questionnaire is my favorite part). The book includes all of my “Tips and Tricks” to making Trophy-worthy cupcakes, including a list of five tools every cupcake baker needs.
Then there are five chapters worth of theme parties (20 in all) that include decorating ideas, DIY crafts, food and drink ideas and recipes, entertainment suggestions and, of course, cupcake recipes. If you mix and match all of cupcake recipes, there are almost 40! Most are popular Trophy favorites, but there are two brand new recipes that I’m quite excited to unveil.
What are your favorite blogs and/or websites to visit when you have a moment?
JS – That’s a hard one. There are so many amazing people out there doing inspiring, creative things. Off of the top of my head, my faves include: Oh Joy!, Apartment 34, Hank & Hunt, A Blog Named Scout, Coco + Kelley, Mrs. Lilien, The Bedlam of Beefy, and Oh Happy Day. They all make me smile.
My little one is obsessed with your Red Velvet. It’s the only one he will eat. Of your current flavors which one is your favorite?
JS – What a discerning fellow! I always see Red Velvet as a more grown up flavor, with its delicate cake and tangy cream cheese frosting. I love that that’s his favorite!
My all time fave is Chocolate Vanilla. It’s my oldest recipe and I just never get tired of it. That said, since I eat cupcakes almost every day, I mix it up a lot and am usually obsessed with whatever the seasonal flavor is. Right now it’s Guinness Stout with Irish Cream Buttercream. So yummy!
I love to ask everyone I interview, if you were stranded on a desert island and could take one item and one meal, what would they be?
JS – My item: sunscreen. My meal: The Tajarin burro e salvia from Cascina Spinasse. Hand cut pasta with butter and sage…it’s insane. I dream about it. Add a loaf of crusty bread and a bottle of good Champagne and I’m set.
Thanks, Jennifer for playing along! Stay tuned for the next ISWAI…