One of the most common questions I get asked is "how did you start baking?" I can completely understand why people are curious, so, I thought I would dedicate an entire blog post to just that.
Growing up, I was one of those of those kids who had everything planned out. I can remember being in middle school and thinking I had my life all figured out. All I ever wanted to be was a doctor so I focused my entire life on just that. For my undergrad, I majored in biology with a minor in chemistry, and then, being the overachiever that I am, I decided to get my master's degree at Indiana University School of Medicine in Medical Science before applying to med school. During my master's program, I immediately clicked with a friend from Virginia. During our first day at lunch, she mentioned to me how much I needed to meet her friend Victor (spoiler alert…Victor is now my husband). Almost two years later, I finally met Victor and was about to graduate with my master's degree. I ended up accepting a position in med school at St George's University in Grenada. I spent my first year there and volunteered medical care at a local orphanage through the Christian Medical and Dental Association. In May of 2007, I returned home for the summer to spend time with my family and get married that July. An interesting tib bit…I never cooked or baked for Victor once before we got married, but Victor made me cupcakes when he came to visit in Grenada. Even funnier, when we went to the grocery store to get supplies for the cupcakes & frosting, I grabbed margarine since butter was super expensive there not knowing that it is not the same and makes a terrible frosting. Needless to say, he laughed at me and had to go back to get butter so we could make the buttercream the right way!
Here are some photos from when Victor visited me in Grenada:
On our quest to return for my next semester a few weeks after our wedding, Victor and I had a ton of issues with our flights, and we had a layover in Raleigh-Durham. We were super excited to be moved to first class for our trip back to Grenada as a consulation for all of the issues we had the day before. We finally ended up at a hotel late that night, and the next morning when we went to check in for our flight, we found out that neither one of us had our passports, credit cards, and other items that we had in our travel case and the travel case was also missing. So, it is pretty hard to check in without tickets, passports, etc. Once we realized it had been stolen from our stuff most likely the night before in the chaos of the cancelled flights, we then realized we were not going to make it back down to Grenada in time for me to start classes that sememster. For the first time, I didn't know what to do. I am one that always feels the need to be in control and the entire situation was out of my control. We had no other option other than to return to Virginia where we had lived for that summer.
While back in Virginia, Victor was able to return back to work at The Master's Inn, the camp he worked at before we got married. I, on the other hand, was lost. I had spent the last 7 years in college, and I didn't have a job. It was definitely an adjustment. I ended up working for a company owned by Victor's aunts and studying for exams to go back to med school in Indiana after deciding that I no longer wanted to go back to Grenada.
It was the first time that I had free time in years. All through college, I had always taken full course loads (18-20 hours of classes a semester) while teaching and volunteering at Riley Hospital for Children so it was definitely a foreing concept. To fill my time, I started doing a ton of baking and cooking. Since we were living at the camp, we were in a small two room cabin. We didn't have a real kitchen and instead had a hot plate and a toaster oven. So, I could bake 6 cupcakes at a time, but I loved it. We started baking cakes, cupcakes, pies, etc and to get rid of them, I would let everyone at camp eat them.
Here are some of the first cupcakes I ever made (things have come a LONG way!)
A year later, we moved back to Indiana with plans for me to go back to school, but the day I went to take my exam, I got a call from a culinary school that I had contacted. I remember being out to eat with Victor for lunch and deciding that I wasn't going to go back to school for medicine and instead was going to attend culinary school. It was the first decision I made that was not planned out, and as much as it made me feel out of control, I felt totally at peace with it. The decision was easier than it should have been to make, and I have never regretted it since.
I started classes at the International Culinary School at the Art Institute, and I immediately loved it. I was part of the culinary arts program because even though my main passion was baking, I also loved cooking as well. I attended culinary school for over a year while working full time at IU med school in a pediatric cardiology research lab. Work eventually began to get too busy so I had to take a break from school, and to fill the void of missing culinary school, I would spend my entire weekend baking all day and night. To get rid of all of the sweets, Victor would take them to work. I knew that if I wanted to stick with this, my business would need a name. Growing up with a name that was unique, I knew I wanted the same for a business name. We thought and thought and thought, and I felt like I was never going to come up with a name until Victor came up with "Confectioneiress." I immediately loved it, and I knew it was perfect. Eventually, I decided to sell cupcakes at the Binford Farmer's Market. Our first day at the market was Saturday, May 8, 2010, and I knew that day that this would be what I would end up doing.
Here is the sign that we had at the market that year…way before the logo we have now!
And, here are some of the cupcakes…including the way we used to make chocolate chip cookie dough…a lot has changed!
From that day on, things just took off. Many weeks, we would sell out of cupcakes and I started making cakes and other desserts. A few months later, on August 5th, 2010, I found out that we were going to be able to open an actual shop although it took almost a year to open. We spent months planning and searching for a spot…and we finally found one in January 2011. Construction moved fast once the lease was signed…
Working on the drywall in the front of the shop:
The day our hood was installed in the back
The kitchen before all the shelving and tables (and now, we have added 3 more refrigerators…I don't know why we ever thought one would be enough!)
And, we opened in Zionsville on Monday, June 6, 2011.
Two years later, and I cannot believe where we are now. We have an AMAZING staff that I am so grateful for. We spent a lot of all nighters the first year, and I don't think I could do that again if I had to so I am so happy to have awesome staff that work hard and prevent us from having to stay there all night! It still seems unreal that everything worked out the way it did. I know that this is no doubt what I am supposed to be doing, and I am so happy to have the family and people in my life that have supported me along the way. Without Victor, there is no way I would have done this, and he is amazing support and has taught me a lot about the business side of things.
The next most common question I get asked is if I regret not being a doctor and the truth is, I don't one bit. I have many friends who I still keep in contact with, and hearing stories about what they are doing now, doesn't make me miss it at all. I am glad that I let things be out of control and that by going with the flow for one of the first times in my life, I found what I truly should be doing. I may not be saving lives as a doctor, but I love bringing smiles and happiness to customers with cakes and cupcakes. Plus, having Victor by my side along the way, makes it even better.
(fun photo by Black Swan Photography)
Thanks to all of you who have supported our business and who come to Confectioneiress. We truly appreciate it more than any of you will ever know and we hope to be around for many more years to come! I also want to give a thank you to whoever it was that found our travel case that day at the Raleigh-Durham airport. Had they turned in at the airport, we would have boarded the plane that August morning to go back to Grenada and Confectioneiress would have never existed.
Thanks again to all of our awesome customers…be sure to follow us on Facebook to keep up to date with all that is going on, to get daily flavor updates, and to see all of our photos!