When owner, Erica Elia, opened Classy Girl Cupcakes in Downtown Milwaukee in 2010, there was only one other cupcake bakery in town. She had nothing to compare her new business to and had no idea if a cupcake bakery could even be successful. Turns out, not only has business been successful, but demand for cupcake bakeries is higher than ever.
Classy Girl Cupcakes is opening a second location today, February 1st, in Brookfield Square Mall. The new 600 sq. ft. location will occupy a space previously held by Arby’s. Elia said, “The spot has everything we need including a walk-in cooler and oven hoods, so we didn’t need to do any major renovation to it.” The 1000 sq. ft. Downtown space, while in a great location, has a very small kitchen and there’s no room to expand or grow. Although the new Brookfield location is a smaller space compared to Downtown, there’s room for greater capacity. Elia said, “It’s all kitchen. We actually have bigger ovens in there already and we can double the space one day if we need to.” In addition to the fully-equipped kitchen, Elia chose this location because of her clientele. “We do a ton of Waukesha County weddings…so being able to bake out of the new location will save a lot of time.”
The cupcake shop typically has over 25 flavors available daily and is constantly coming up with new ones. “We recently went through a period of eliminating new flavors, because we get pretty excited about trying new things. Once they’re on the menu for a while, we get a sense of what the customers want and what’s really popular.” And what’s really popular at Classy Girl Cupcakes is, “red velvet and anything super gooey and chocolaty and caramel-y.” As for Elia’s personal favorite flavor, it’s got to be the Cinnamon Pecan French Toast cupcake. “Hands down best thing we make”, she said. “It’s a cinnamon butter rum cupcake and we put toasted pecan pieces in the batter. It’s topped with maple buttercream, cinnamon sugar and a pecan on top. Almost everyone who works here agrees it’s their favorite.”
Along with their standard line-up of cupcakes, Classy Girl Cupcakes also offers jumbo filled cupcakes, cheesecake cupcakes, cupcake push pops, cupcake bombs, truffles and more. They also have talented cake decorators who can design the perfect cake for any occasion. Classy Girl Cupcakes only uses homemade buttercream, no fondant or gum paste. Head baker and “Buttercream Wizard”, Samantha Wright, is an essential member of the Classy Girl Cupcakes team, along with the 25-30 other employees that help the business run smoothly. Summer is a busy time for Classy Girl Cupcakes; they typically cater 8-10 weddings a weekend. Additionally, throughout the year, they also cater corporate events, sell at festivals and participate in charity events. “We like to keep ourselves busy,” Elia said.
Classy Girl Cupcakes hosted the 2nd Annual Cupcake Fest in October, 2016 at the Mitchell Park Domes. Elia came up with the idea when she discovered that there weren’t many of quality children’s festivals or activities to participate in with her 6 year-old daughter. The goal of Cupcake Fest was to create a fun and exciting event for children and their parents in the Milwaukee area. The event’s first year was very successful with over 5,000 people attending. Unfortunately, with the new location, Elia isn’t confident the Cupcake Fest will be held this year. Instead, however, Classy Girl Cupcakes is planning to open a party venue storefront in Brookfield Square Mall starting March 1st, in addition to the new retail location in the food court. Elia said, “We’re going to bring a lot of the games and activities we had at Cupcake Fest and bring them there.” She added that the new storefront would also host cupcake decorating parties for birthdays, showers, and other special occasions. Cupcake decorating lessons might be added down the road.
When asked where she sees Classy Girl Cupcakes in five years, Elia said that the “possibilities are endless”, and that she was considering opening additional locations, perhaps even expanding into other states, where there aren’t already cupcake bakeries available.
Elia shared this advice for new bakers just starting out, “Be very confident and be willing to fly by the seat of your pants and not know what’s going to happen.” She added, “It’s important to be out in the community as much as possible.” Without a large advertising budget, Elia has built a strong social media following. One of the most popular ways of engaging with her businesses’ followers is the signature Crazy Cupcake Auction held often on their Facebook page. A half-sheet cake box with a 48 left-over cupcakes in a variety of flavors is auctioned off; interested customers bid on the lot and the winner usually getting 50% off the retail price. “People stalk our Facebook page for that contest”, Elia said.
As a new member of Wisconsin Bakers Association, Elia added, “I like how WBA works to bring everyone together. I feel like there’s a lot of competition between bakers and I think it is nice to get to know each other and see that we’re all looking for the same thing and looking to be successful in our market.”
For more information about Classy Girl Cupcakes, visit: www.classygirlcupcakes.com
If you’re interested in becoming a WBA member, visit our application page