Stylish Eve Interviews 2014: Jennifer Cucci of Heavenly Cake Pops
If you’re one of those people who always have a craving for desserts, you’ll never be able to resist a delicious cake pop! Stylish Eve is pleased to present an interview with Jennifer Cucci, the owner of Heavenly Cake Pops. We’ll help you get to know more about her and her business, plus her “Easy Roller” that makes cake pops really simple to make (See video). Check out the interview below, maybe you’ll get inspired and start your own business one day!
1- Tell us about yourself
My name is Jennifer Cucci, I am married and have 3 kids aged 12, 10 and 6. I own HCP, Heavenly Cake Pops. I have always enjoyed crafts and projects and I come from a very entrepreneurial family, so I have always wanted to do be in business for myself. This gives me the perfect avenue to blend both my creativity and my desire to be self-employed in an industry I absolutely love.
2- How did you come up with the idea of becoming a cake popper?
I never really intended to become a cake popper at all. I fell into it by accident really. I had a corporate job as a Telecom Consultant and wasn’t really looking to switch. My middle son, who never really asks for anything, begged me to make him a Big Top Cupcake for his birthday. I searched everywhere to try and buy the mold and everyone was sold out. Trying to find a secondary option I came across cake pops. So, with some small convincing, he agreed to the idea and I made him sports pops: baseballs, basketballs and footballs for his party. He loved them; I mean at the end of the day you can’t really go wrong with cake and chocolate, but what I wasn’t expecting was how popular they would be with the parents. Everyone at the party was begging me to make them. I had no interest in it, as it was really time consuming. I couldn’t give the recipe away, everybody wanted them but nobody wanted to make them. Once I agreed to make some for one neighbor it was hard to turn down the rest. Soon I was bringing them to my clients and prospects as well whenever I dropped something off, just something for the “gatekeepers” at the offices to remember me by and as a thank you to my existing customers.
3- How did you start heavenly cake pops? And what are the stages that you’ve gone through up until now?
Well as I said, I started bringing them to my customers as thank you gifts. I would always get the comment of how “Heavenly” they were. Everyone loved them. Soon, I was getting calls from their corporate offices for hundreds of them for parties and holidays. They were quite popular. Heavenly Cake Pops was born out of demand. It quickly turned into a side business, and my reach grew by referrals. I did no advertising whatsoever, besides the occasional post on FB. About 3 years ago a local law firm asked us to do some for their clients before Christmas. It was an order for several hundred. That caused a spiral effect as a good majority of their clients ordered with us. In total we made over 4000 cake pops that Christmas. Today, we still make them for some of our older clients, but I developed a tool to make them and our core business has transitioned to manufacturing and selling our baking tools globally.
4- How are people becoming more aware of cake pops such that the demand keeps increasing?
I mean we owe a lot of thanks to the early pioneers of the art. People like Bakerella who really made them popular and which was the first published book that I came across dedicated to them. But I would say the main reason for their popularity is social media. 3-4 years ago you were hard-pressed to find someone who knew what cake pops were, now they are in almost every bakery, coffee shop and home in some form or another. Name brand cake box mixes have developed their own “cake pop” box cake that you can find on any shelf at your local grocery store. They have even appeared in popular TV shows like Breaking Bad, and recently the Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show, the largest cake competition in the US, had its own separate baking category for cake pops.
5- I see you’ve developed “The Easy Roller” to make cake pops simpler and faster. Tell us about “The Easy Roller”
As I mentioned, 3 years ago we had an order for roughly 4000 cake pops. Those were all hand rolled. I bribed friends and family to help me roll them and we lost a lot of friends that year. I had to find an easier, faster way to make them. My family missed me and it soon became an ROI issue as I had met my productivity capacity. Like most great tools, The Easy Roller was truly developed out of personal need. It rolls 21 balls at a time, all the same size and weight. I can roll over 500 in an hour. Not only is it faster but it offers product consistency as well, as each ball is the same size and weight. I designed it to be interchangeable, so while it comes standard with a 1.25 inch round insert, it is easily swapped out for a larger round insert, a smaller sized insert and a cupcake shape, with more insert sizes and shapes set to launch in the near future. I really only intended to make it for myself. I posted a video on YouTube of it in action and tied that to a Facebook post and social media kind of took over. I funded the idea with a presale on Facebook. It took me 3 months to raise the capital needed to develop the tool and fulfill my first orders. Designed out of food grade plastic, as we expand globally we are finding that the Easy Roller, although designed for cake, has quickly outgrown its scope, with chefs across the world finding use for it with a variety of different treats, both sweet and savory. Everything from portioning 49 pieces at a time to rolling meatballs, cookies and everything in between…and of course cake pops.
6- How do you make sure your cake pops stay on top of people’s lists whenever there’s a craving for a cake pop?
Like I said, at the end of the day it’s cake and chocolate in an individual serving size, so I think they will always be popular, especially given how cute they become with simple customizations. I think the difference and how to stay topical for any baker really is what we create and how we get it out there. As I mentioned earlier, social media plays a huge roll for us. It is safe to say that our entire company and where we are today, and hope to be tomorrow, is in large part, if not entirely due to social media sites. I always tell people we were founded on Facebook. I constantly post ‘how to’ tutorials, so those up and comers can learn the easy way without the trials and tribulations I faced. The key is to keep our tutorials fun, entertaining and easy.
7- Do you serve different cake pops for various holidays and/or occasions? Tell our readers about decorating your cake pops for every single occasion or holiday.
Flavors are generally always the basics: vanilla, chocolate, spice etc. The beauty of cake pops is in the decoration. You literally can make them match whatever theme you want. I have seen everything from leprechauns for Saint Patrick’s Day and eggs for Easter, to specialized characters and shapes. The possibilities are endless. I think this is why they are so popular. You are limited only by your own creativity when it comes to decorating them. Our most popular though are just cake pops with piping on the top; nobody feels bad about downing those in one bite!
8- Do you make special packaging during the holidays? Explain.
That is the best part about the growth of cake pops. We now have companies specializing in packaging and accessories to make them, display them and ship them. I love finding new items like that and to think about the growth in such a short timeframe. As for what I use, it depends on the occasion.
9- What are your plans for 2014?
2014 is going to be a great year for us. As we continue to expand and our demographic footprint grows from that of the professional baker to the recreational baker, it allows us to launch new ideas. We have new products in the works that focus on our core concept of making things easier, faster and consistent.
10- Have you heard about Stylish Eve magazine before or is it your first time? What do you think of it?
I have, funny enough, through FB. First off with over 2.5 million fans, it’s inspiring. But I love how the company doesn’t confine to any one specific category. Whether it’s home design which I often find myself glimpsing through for fun and to see what’s new, or party ideas which is the category that led me to you initially through a mutual fan’s shared post, I love seeing all the new trends.