BERLIN — Cupcakes aren’t the only thing blooming at Berlin’s newest bakery. Less than six months after opening, Cupcakes in Bloom has a growing fan base, eyes toward the future and has already been in the national spotlight on the popular Food Network show Cupcake Wars.
Owner Shawnee Berzonski opened in July with a unique strategy for dealing with those first few crucial weeks for a new business — she didn’t tell anyone she was open.
“I didn’t tell anybody,” said Berzonski.
She explained that the small shop off Main St. that houses Bloom can’t handle too much traffic at one time. Berzonski went with a quiet opening, but said that word of mouth has been bringing in big crowds since the first couple of days.
“There were days we’d have to lock the doors,” she said, adding that during peak shopping times Bloom can get overwhelmed.
Even with her early success, Berzonski admitted that she was shocked when an application she sent to the Food Network show Cupcake Wars triggered a quick callback from a producer.
“They called me the next day,” she said.
Berzonski said that she had applied to be on the show on a whim and found herself unprepared to tackle the event when it became a reality. Luckily, her friends and family were supportive, including her twin sister Charley, who agreed to be her assistant during the filming.
“I went into it as an adventure,” said Berzonski of the episode.
While Berzonski didn’t win, instead finishing second, she regards it as a learning experience and a fond memory. A self-admitted “selfish baker” who tailored most of her cupcake flavors after her own tastes, Berzonski said baking professionally and experiences like Cupcake Wars has helped her start to explore outside of her comfort zone, which she hopes will make her a more rounded chef and artist.
Though satisfied and appreciative of her time on Cupcake Wars, Berzonski admitted that she would love to take part in one of the show’s “redemption” episodes where defeated challengers get a second shot.
While she had been baking edible cupcake bouquets, where the cakes are styled and arranged to resemble flowers, for more than three years out of her house, Bloom is Berzonski’s first private bakery venture.
With 16 years’ experience in the salon field, Berzonski said she might never have left if not for the fact that the salon she worked at closed last winter. After that, Berzonski decided to try to turn her hobby of baking cupcake arrangements into a profession. So far, she’s been pleased with the results.
Sometime in the near future, Berzonski hopes to expand her kitchen area to increase her capacity, as well as look into shipping loose cupcake orders as opposed to her signature bouquets. She pointed out that the arrangements would be hard to ship, as each one is handcrafted and entirely unique, as well as fragile, making it difficult to find proper containers for each creation.
“Every rose I do a different shape,” she said. “Every daisy I do a different shape.”
Berzonski didn’t completely discount the possibility of shipping them as an eventuality, but hopes that customers who enjoy the bouquets will continue to pick them up personally.
“That’s the primary part of the business,” she said.
Beyond that, Berzonski said she needs to see where the “cupcake craze is going;” whether it will be a fad or a lasting area of interest. Either way, her focus on crafting edible bouquets is something Berzonski thinks will help set her apart from the field.