2016-07-14-11-23-07Owning a successful small business takes more than just having a dream. Of course you need a vision and  business plan, but you also need to be willing to put in a lot of work. Amy Brace of Amy’s Cupcake Shoppe in Hopkins, Minnesota always loved baking when she was young, working with her mom in the kitchen, but it wasn’t until she had a daughter of her own that she starting dreaming of owning her own baking business.

The Beginning of Amy’s Cupcakes

What started as an at home catering business making speciality cupcakes and macarons for weddings, events and birthdays has grown into a storefront bakeshop drawing people from the western suburbs of Minneapolis to enjoy freshly baked treats and locally roasted coffee by City Girl Coffee of Duluth, Minnesota.

Amy had dreamed for years of taking her home based business into a public space where she could welcome more people to enjoy her sweets but opening a storefront took more than vision, it took careful planning and cash. With her friends and family’s support and a great product, she built a business plan to make her dream come true and to help raise cash for the project, she decided to run a crowd funding campaign, using Kickstarter.

mug on kickstarter boxKickstarter helps entrepreneurs and inventors bring dreams into reality by providing a platform for people to advertise their project publicly, online. Backers commit to fund the project and can choose the dollar amount to donate. Amy used a combination of email marketing, social media, direct mail and local media coverage to promote her Kickstarter campaign.

It is not uncommon for project owners to offer some sort of incentive, or ‘thank you’ gift, to their funders. To sweeten the deal (literally) Amy offered thank you gifts to backers who went in at $50 and higher that included, of course, sweet treats. By far the most popular donation level was $50 at which the backer received a custom logo mug handmade by Grey Fox Pottery in Minneapolis, along with six cupcakes and six macarons made by Amy herself!

While it seems like easy money, it was really a lot of work and risk. Kickstarter allows many types of projects to be submitted for funding and they do offer some help and advice along the way on how to set up and promote a project, but the heavy lifting MUST be done by the project owner. Of course if you LOVE your project, you think everyone will too, it is very important that you can tell a good story to connect with the crowd. One of the biggest things to determine when you set up your crowd funding campaign via Kickstarter is the exact dollar amount you hope to raise. Make sure the dollar amount is reasonable and commit to it because it cannot be changed once the campaign is live. What’s more, if you don’t raise the FULL campaign amount you chose at the beginning within your deadline, you get nada, nothing, zilch!

Amy's cupcakes

What Worked?

Amy’s advice on running a successful campaign on Kickstarter? “I would say make sure to have a very professional video, made by Engle Videography of course, and to have a social media campaign ready to go. Getting in front of the social media crowd was a huge help along with, for us being super local, a direct mailer we did. It let lots of people in the neighborhood and surrounding area know we were here and ready to make them all treats!”

Espresso lineThe money she earned through her Kickstarter campaign helped her finish up the shoppe in the way she wanted, along with a lot of the bakery equipment and fittings in the kitchen including the ovens, tables and tile for thew alls and floor. Everything came together to make the shoppe beautiful and functional all the same time.

Amy’s Cupcake Shoppe had the grand opening of their downtown Hopkins, MN storefront on July 14, 2016. We were honored to have just a small part of making Amy’s dream come true by providing her with a custom logo handmade mug that complemented her brand and proved to be a top seller during her crowd funding campaign. Here’s to a future of sweet success!