Young baker starts small business


Maddie Davis

As senior Katherine Woodruff frosted her first Minnie Mouse cupcake, she felt the tears begin to well up in her eyes. The Disney-inspired cupcakes were not shaping up to what she had hoped for.
She made the ears on the heads of the desserts with Oreo cookie icing and dot­ted them with frosting. But instead of looking as planned, the ears looked like large black dots.
“The butter cream didn’t set right at all,” Woodruff said. “I actually cried because we had a really big order of 40 [cupcakes] to make, and the ears were not sticking, but instead they were falling off, and they looked like blobs of icing. I ended up fixing it by scraping off the butter cream and adding more powdered sugar to thicken it up, but it turned out ex­tremely sweet. I was making them for a birthday party, so the kids probably got a coma from how sweet they were.”
Woodruff often runs into catastro­phes with her cupcakes because of the business she owns. She and college freshman Maddie Games opened Peace Cupcakes in June 2010.
What first started out as a form of en­tertainment soon developed into a successful baking career, bringing the girls in around $3,500 since they started. They charge $26 for a dozen and $20 for a dozen minis.
“Maddie lives in St. Louis, but we have always been best friends, so whenever we would see each other we would try to think of something fun for us to do,” Woodruff said. “We started baking cupcakes because we didn’t want to always cook a meal or something, and then we would take them to people who would say that we should start a business because they were so good.”
Even though neither of the girls’ parents owns the business, Woodruff’s mom helped the two get started. In order to turn their idea into a real thing, the girls had to get an Lim­ited Liability Company and a zoning license. The license allowed their homes to become the main place of business.
They also developed a Facebook page to bring in more customers. Once Peace Cup­cakes was real, the only thing missing was customers.
“My mom is a graphic designer and really into advertising, so she made our logo and business cards,” Woodruff said. “She likes to help us get our business out there. When­ever we work events my mom will leave [our] business cards so that we can get more cus­tomers and publicity. People ask if it is her business, but then they [find] out it’s actually mine, and they always think it’s weird and cool. It actually helps though because then people buy cupcakes to see what we can do and if they’re any good.”
Owning a business at age 17 doesn’t limit the girls from having complete confidence in what they do.
Woodruff focuses on designing and cre­ating the distinctive decorations for the cup­cakes whereas Games comes up with new flavor combinations. With every aspect of the desserts covered, the girls believe they have the total package.
“We don’t like to just make vanilla cup­cakes,” Woodruff said. “We always make the cake first, and then we’ll fill it with something that compliments the flavor and then ice it with a form of butter cream.”
Some of the combinations Peace Cupcakes has made include key lime pie with a graham cracker crust and a lime filling, and cranber­ry-flavored cake with apple cider filling and cranberry fruit reduction topping sauce.
“We really just cater to what people re­quest and what people like,” Woodruff said.
The flavor combinations are not the only thing that separate Peace Cupcakes from the normal ones. Senior Brian Beckman said Woodruff and Games’ cupcakes have better texture and are more moist than others.
Woodruff “usually has one flavor for the actual cupcake and then a different one for the icing or filling,” Beckman said. “They’re really unique because they’re not just like a cupcake. It’s more of a small cake. A normal cupcake is harder, but her cupcakes are way softer, and the icing is really thick but still fluffy somehow.”
Peace Cupcakes tries to match its unique flavor combinations and texture with just as intricate designs. Woodruff’s favorite decora­tion so far has been the topping on a pumpkin cupcake. She iced the gold cupcake with gold frosting and then sprinkled edible gold over the top.
Even though decoration is Woodruff’s fa­vorite part, it is not always easy to do in her house.
Baking “can get really stressful because it is just me baking and handling everything by myself sometimes,” Woodruff said. “I also have to use my own oven which is pretty small, so I have to put in new pans over and over again. Plus we don’t buy in bulk most of the time, so we have to try and calculate how much we should buy, and we run out all the time. We have to think about that, but one time we did an order of 250 cupcakes, and it was really scary because it was so much to do in such a small kitchen area.”
Owning Peace Cupcakes is satisfying to Woodruff for now, but she is not sure if she will continue to expand the business into col­lege.
“We’re both going to finish out four year colleges, but if we don’t fall in love with a job after that, then we probably will make the business into our actual life careers,” Wood­ruff said. “It’s something fun for us to do, and we enjoy it so much because we’re able to be creative and able to do something we like for money. I could definitely see it continuing on for both of us.”
By Maddie Davis