When the Heavy Table last checked in with Krista Steinbach, the founder of Sweets Bakeshop, she was selling her gourmet cupcakes, macaroons, and brownies at Local D’Lish in Minneapolis while scouring the Twin Cities for a retail space to call her own. Aiming for a spring 2010 opening, Steinbach had shifted her search to properties with existing kitchens. Little did she know at the time that such a space existed across the river in St. Paul.
Another talented baker, Ly Lo, had just opened the Little Cake Studio in St. Paul’s Merriam Park neighborhood in August, and on a trip to nearby Izzy’s Ice Cream one day, Steinbach stopped by to see what Lo’s shop had to offer. Subsequent conversations with Lo over the next couple of months sparked the idea for a partnership, and this Saturday Steinbach and Lo will officially launch their merged bakery, also to be called Sweets Bakeshop.
Though a partnership was never in either entrepreneur’s business plan, the pair found that Steinbach’s passion for baking and Lo’s interest in intricate design perfectly complemented one another.
“We saw each other’s strength as the other’s weakness, and that drew us together as partners,” says Lo, a former furniture designer who studied at the prestigious Savannah College of Art and Design. “When I was working on my own, baking would take me all morning and into the afternoon, and by that time I was so tired I didn’t want to decorate the cakes. I knew that Krista was looking for space, so my husband and I thought, ‘How could we incorporate her into our business?'”
The kitchen is a bit smaller than would be ideal for Steinbach, who moved her cupcake pans into the shop three weeks ago, but she says she’s found that the shop’s high-traffic location more than makes up for it.
“It certainly works for what we’re doing, and we can always expand,” she says.
Expansion is on the minds of both bakers, as they are combining their unique talents to offer elaborate spreads for weddings or other special occasions. The pair hopes to focus on custom dessert tables, which would include traditional cakes, cupcakes, macaroons, and other sweet treats. And to build upon customer enthusiasm for fancifully decorated cupcakes, the shop will feature a themed display – such as Halloween or the Packers / Vikings rivalry – every Saturday.
“We do more custom stuff [than your average bakery]. We want to be specific to what people want,” Lo says.
But in addition to custom creations, Sweets Bakeshop will be stocked daily with full-size and mini cupcakes, macaroons, and brownies. Customers will find three flavors – vanilla, chocolate, and kettle corn – on hand each day, along with seasonal offerings.
While her plans have brought her to an unexpected venture, Steinbach is excited to fully realize her business potential with Lo’s support.
“I’m excited about having a business partner to do the day-to-day stuff with. And, of course, it’s nice to finally have a retail outlet,” Steinbach says.
Heavy Table will visit Sweets Bakeshop this winter to see how the joint venture is faring (and eat more cupcakes). Find the shop at 2042 Marshall Ave., St. Paul.