WRITER | NICOLETTE CHAMBERY
PHOTOS | CRE8TIVE CUPCAKES
Specialty bakeries have been popping up with increasing regularity due to their unique and more personal approach to baked goods. Those of us who consume these delicacies appreciate the artistic eye a baker can bring as well as the expertise they share in their baking.
Michigan has a number of specialty bakeries in each of its five regions, but the most prominent are those galvanizing the cupcake and cake businesses. However, there are plentiful bakeries that specialize in things such as small bites, culturally specific baked goods, cookies, and more.
But what about this work is fulfilling for the baker? We spoke with a few specialty bakers around the state to find out.
According to IBISWorld, a global market research firm, specialty bakeries have been on the rise for the last ten years, increasing at a rate of about 7.3 percent annually. In 2015, the niche had an annual revenue of $8 billion worldwide, with an annual increase of 5.9 percent expected through 2019.
In the words of Jason Kakabaker, who owns the successful Cakabakery stores in Eastown and Holland, “Being in the custom cake business is so rewarding in the sense that we get to make a one-of-a-kind design every time, for some of the most pivotal moments in our customers’ lives. Events such as milestone birthdays and anniversaries, and even bachelorette parties!”
“It is especially fun to be a part of ‘gender reveal’ gatherings. Typically, the cake or cupcake is frosted in white buttercream, with the center frosting colored in pink or blue to indicate whether the baby is a boy or girl. The community knows our cakes are made from scratch and are good quality. It feels good to be a trusted bakery that is called upon to be part of these important life events.”
Stacey and Steve Wilcox, owners of Bay Bread Co. in Traverse City, loved the concept of personally crafted artisan bread and working with local chefs to supply surrounding restaurants with authentic baked goods. Engineers by trade, the Wilcoxes took over the company in 1998 and continued the French-style packaging (that is, no packaging!) to ensure the best taste and texture of their product. Despite their French roots, Bay Bread Co. serves a variety of breads, including sweet, rye, whole wheat, sourdough, and Italian.
“I believe in expansion, but it’s important that a business not lose sight of what it does best. We’ve stayed true to our roots as a family-owned and -operated company, and that’s important to us,” said Stacey.
Cre8tive Cupcakes, located in Charlevoix, is owned by Alfred Soriano-Micheau, who says it’s the challenge of reflecting people’s relationships and celebrations through customized cupcakes that is highly rewarding for him and his team. “We personalize every detail so that it showcases their uniqueness as an individual.”
“It’s the happiness that people exude when they see and experience our cupcakes that make this job worthwhile. They are solely for you—they’re one serving that you can enjoy without utensils, which make them especially accessible,” says Micheau.
These specialty bakery owners have not only identified a way to pursue their culinary and creative passions, but they have also enriched the lives of their clients, who now have the option of sharing more of themselves with their friends and family through food.
By continuing to capitalize on consumer trends and fighting off big business competition with their eye for detail and personalization, specialty bakeries have a lucrative and meaningful path ahead.