Let them eat cupcakes - Bella Bella Cupcakes opens Silverdale location
By KRISTIN OKINAKA
Central Kitsap Reporter staff
February 4, 2011 · Updated 5:57 PM
There would be milk. They had no doubts that their customers would walk out with strong bones and that they would be better at ordering supplies.
“I was drinking chocolate milk as a meal replacer,” said Donna Wharton, co-owner of Bella Bella Cupcakes, after her business partner, Amie Lacher, ordered too much milk for their new Silverdale retail location.
On the first order, Lacher requested 200 half pints and 200 full pints — so much that the two owners had to tell the delivery driver to take back the milk that was dropped off their second week after opening. Milk is delivered once a week.
Figuring out the routine of the operation — like how much milk is enough milk — is the transition Wharton and Lacher have faced. They have gone from a mobile cupcake business where they baked in a co-op kitchen in Bremerton and sold the treats at farmers markets, to having their own retail location. The shop opened last month and will celebrate its grand opening Thursday.
“Just getting the routine down — we had been mobile for so long,” said Lacher, 33, on the biggest challenge of opening their store. “This is a different kind of day.”
The Tracyton women started Bella Bella Cupcakes in September 2009 after Wharton was laid off from her administrative position with Washington State Ferries. It was a weekly tradition for the two friends to eat cupcakes that Wharton would bring back from shops in Seattle while they caught up on each other’s lives. After losing her job, Wharton was down on herself and asked Lacher who would be bringing them cupcakes now. Lacher’s response: “We’ll make our own damn cupcakes.”
The next day Lacher told Wharton that they had their first gig and would be baking 500 cupcakes for a benefit for the Bremerton Foodline.
The duo had a background in the food world from waitressing and bartending. They met in 1999 while working at the Silverdale Applebee’s. They had so much fun with the first 500 that they decided to keep baking. They danced in the kitchen while making up new flavors. Their kids danced with them. They couldn’t name the business after a child because that meant picking one, so the name came from Wharton’s dog, Isabella, since they would always be calling out “Bella, Bella” as she ran around the house, Lacher said.
“We hit the ground running and rolled with it,” Wharton, 36, said, adding that she had no idea Lacher was serious about starting a business when she first proposed making their own cupcakes.
Lacher and Wharton were vendors at the Silverdale Farmers Market and went to markets in Port Orchard and Port Gamble; they went to events and expos; and various cafes including Trident Coffee Bar and Cornerstone Coffee in Bremerton sold their cupcakes — both which continue to sell them. Going to the markets kept their “name and face out there,” Wharton said. During the summer months they produced about 80 dozen cupcakes a week, added Lacher. They had a website up and running in December 2009. Along with selling at farmers markets, online orders for private parties and weddings kept the business going.
Charlie McCurdy of Seabeck found out about Bella Bella Cupcakes while seeing their booth at the Silverdale Farmers Market over the summer. She immediately began following them on Facebook — another online tool the owners use with their website. McCurdy, 47, enjoys baking and likes that Bella Bella Cupcakes are made from scratch. They have about 50 flavors in their repertoire and sell about eight different flavors a day, including one gluten-free and one sugar-free option. The flavors range from vanilla to a french toast one topped with bacon.
“Not a lot of bakers bake from scratch,” McCurdy said Tuesday while visiting the shop. “And their cupcakes are so pretty and yummy.”
Cupcakes are nostalgic for people because they bring back a “warm spot from childhood,” Lacher said.
For 4-year-old Natalie Story, her warm spot moment is right now — or, in two months when she has her fairy-themed birthday party at Bella Bella Cupcakes. Natalie and her family swung by the store Tuesday to make a reservation for the festivity.
The two women agree that being able to see their customers’ reactions after taking a bite out of the treats is rewarding. That experience was often missed when they were at the markets and people bought the cupcakes and walked away while eating them.
“I like the public,” Wharton said. “We’re people persons.”
Bella Bella Cupcakes
10726 Silverdale Way, Suite 107
www.bellabellacupcakes.comContact Central Kitsap Reporter staff Kristin Okinaka at firstname.lastname@example.org or (360) 308-9161 ext. 5054.