Anyone who spends 16 months serving in Iraq in the Minnesota National Guard deserves something sweet upon return. But instead of following up her tour with a welcome-home cake, Krista Steinbach set her sights a little higher — her own bakeshop.
“I’ve always loved baking. As a little girl, I didn’t dream of owning a bakery, but I decided I wanted to do something that I loved for the rest of my life.”
Steinbach, a native of Nebraska and current resident of Columbia Heights, provides the baking prowess behind Sweets Bakeshop, her months-old venture through which she sells her cupcakes, macaroons, and brownies to metro sweet teeth. Though she currently accepts orders through her website and makes twice-weekly deliveries to Local D’Lish in Minneapolis’ Warehouse District, she is planning to open her own retail shop by next spring. The Heavy Table will be checking in with Steinbach periodically to give our readers a glimpse of how a food-based business goes from concept to reality. To bring you up to speed, here’s a handy timeline of how far Sweets Bakeshop has come:
In November, Steinbach graduates from the Culinary Institute of America in California, where she specializes in bakery and pastry. While in school, she first writes a business plan for Sweets and begins doing online research on financing and operating a small business. She also speaks with other California cupcake shop owners, who proved to be an invaluable source for information.
Winter / Spring 2009
Upon returning to Minnesota, Steinbach begins developing recipes, tackling the basic vanilla and chocolate varieties before creating other flavors and “forcing friends and [her] husband to try them.” Her first attempt to obtain financing for a retail space is unsuccessful as several banks refuse her request.
“It was discouraging, but looking back, it was a good thing,” she says.
Instead, Steinbach holds back on looking for her own location and devotes her energy to finding rental space, ultimately turning to a neighborhood caterer’s kitchen. With baking space secured, she whips up samples of her cupcakes and macaroons and scouts area shops for an entrepreneur willing to sell her treats. She finds a kindred spirit in Ann Yin at Local D’Lish and starts making Wednesday and Saturday deliveries in mid-April.
“Ann was pretty new also and said she’d give me a shot,” Steinbach says. “She’s given me a lot of opportunities I wouldn’t have otherwise, like selling at the Mill City Farmers Market and sampling at the Fresh Taste Festival.”
The buzz surrounding Steinbach’s baked goods grows with referrals from the caterer from whom she rents kitchen space — and as more Local D’Lish customers, who are impressed with her use of local ingredients like Hope Creamery butter and Pride of Main Street milk, taste her treats. A June write-up in City Pages’ Hot Dish blog also gives a big boost to sales.
“I have people who come [to Local D’Lish] all the way from St. Paul just for cupcakes,” she says.
While Steinbach continues to search for the perfect location for her own bakery, her timeline has shifted a little.
“I thought I wanted to open a shop by the end of the year, but one big surprise has been the cost of building out a kitchen. Now I think it will be early spring, at the latest, and I’m looking at spaces with built-in kitchens.”
In the meantime, Steinbach works on developing new recipes and products, such as mini cheesecakes and opera cakes. Her husband, Seth, works side by side with her on business operations and helps her keep an upbeat outlook.
“You have to stay positive and keep going at it. You’ll hit a lot of bumps in the road. It would be easier to say, ‘I’ll just go and get a job,’ but keep pushing at it.”
Stay tuned for future updates with Steinbach as she works toward her dream of finding Sweets Bakeshop a space of its own. But if you need your cupcake fix now, head over to Local D’Lish at 208 N 1st St., Minneapolis, or order online.