Icing on the Cupcake bakes up new kitchen

Success results in 7,000-square-foot facility
By: Gloria Beverage, Placer Herald Editor
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Christee Owens finally has the kitchen of her dreams. The founder and co-owner of Icing on the Cupcake has designed, along with her partners, Chuck Meridith and Shirley Nagasawa, a 7,000-square-foot facility in West Rocklin that will allow them to keep up with the demand for their popular confections. The storefront and kitchen, located in the shopping center at the corner of Lonetree and Blue Oaks Boulevards, is nearly 10 times larger than the original facility on Pacific Street. When they opened the first location in November 2007, Owens said, they were baking 6,000 cupcakes a month in the 500-square-foot kitchen. “It was like a beehive in there,” she said. Over the past 3-1/2 years, they have opened stores in Folsom and Sacramento and the volume has grown to 150,000 cupcakes a month. “Hence, the need for the building,” she said. “The day starts at 9 p.m. with preparations. Baking starts at midnight; frosting at 2 a.m. Delivery begins at 7:30 a.m.” Although they offer several best-sellers, new “flavors” are introduced throughout the month. Owens pointed out they offer freshly baked cupcakes seven days a week. Any unsold cupcakes are donated to several area charities. “My mom taught me to bake when I was very young,” Owens said, adding the cupcakes and frosting are based on recipes developed by Nagasawa, her mother and business partner. “Our signature cupcake is Pink Delicious. It’s one my mother used to make for me.” When they open the doors of the first store, Owens said, there was a long line of people who believed they were crazy to start a business at the height of the economic downturn. Now with four locations and nearly 60 employees, Owens is glad they took the risk. “It’s an affordable luxury,” Owens said, adding the cupcakes evoke memories of childhood. “Many of us had cupcakes as children.” In addition to developing a great product, Owens believes their success can be attributed to marketing, including products featuring the signature chocolate brown and soft pink Icing on the Cupcake design. “You don’t just wait for customers to come to you. (When we opened a new store) we would offer samples to businesses within a three- to five-mile radius of every store,” she said. “Once you get them in to test your product, they become fans.” Owens credits many of the marketing ideas to Meridith, her business partner and long-time friend. “He is an amazing creative designer,” she said. Among the products Owens and Meridith have designed are mugs, T-shirts and totes. On the drawing board are hats and visors. The image they want to project is “a little bit of style and a little bit of whimsy with a touch of humor,” Owens said. Stickers attached to the boxes range from “Bite Me” to “It’s like getting a smile in a box.” aTake a closer look at the brown and pink delivery trucks, Owens suggests. Just above the gas tank, the message reads “powered by frosting.” Another message at the rear of the truck proclaims “locked in flavor.” Sitting in her office at the newest location, the 38-year-old longtime Rocklin/Loomis resident says she has realized her dream of becoming an entrepreneur. “I needed to get out of the corporate world,” Owens said. “I made a list of all the things I love to do. I researched each one. If I came across an obstacle, I moved on.” In the end, she opted for a business that showcased a family tradition and brings smiles to the community. _____ Icing on the Cupcake What: Grand opening celebration When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday Where: 6839 Lonetree Blvd. (off Highway 65 at Blue Oaks Blvd.) Portion of proceeds will go to Children’s Miracle Network