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It takes a lot of love to make a Cupcake Royale
In late 2008, Jody Hall, like her cupcakes, rose to the occasion. Increasing demand for her cakes offered at her three Cupcake Royale locations challenged her capacity to satisfy it. In addition, the volume of her catering and wholesale merchandising was also dramatically rising. New facilities were in order, and in a new location. With her confectionary imprint in almost every key Seattle neighborhood—West Seattle, Ballard, Madrona—there was one outstanding—and inevitable—opportunity for Jody: Capital Hill.
The Hill is a dense, popular, highly cultured and affluent area in Seattle, a perfect fit for the warm, communal ambience characterizing Cupcake Royale. And soshe came to pass, on the Hill, the perfect space: East Pike Street, ensconced at street level in a brand new commercial condominium complex, spacious enough not only for a new café, but also for the wholesale cupcake production facility and the office space from which she could manage the business. Perfect. And available! But there was another capital hill to climb—financing. Traditional loans were daunting (“I couldn’t find the (required) 20 percent down.”) But, as Jody had proven previouslyin her background, where there’s a will there’s a way. Initiated as a barista into the Starbucks’ habitat, Jody earned her spurs, learning much about operations and management, as well as embracing the company’s customer-driven “one cup at a time” recipe for success. It was inevitable, as she advanced through the ranks that she would branch out. Nourished visions usually do.
Taking the plunge six years ago, Jody fortunately was able to marshal her own seed capital, opening her first shop, Coffee Verite. Offering an array of choice coffees, it hit the ground(s) running. And what goes perfectly with coffee? Cake, of course, and, in Jody’s case, cakes. Specialty cupcakes originated in New York City in the late 90s, their popularity marooned there—UNTIL Jody took the plunge in 2005. Novice that she was in the world of commercial baking, she had confidence that quality would sell itself, and resolved to offer the best possible cakes available to complement her coffees. With quality as her guiding principle, she pursued a variety of original, unique flavors—Orange U-glad (introducing citrus into the mix), coconut bunny, chocolate triple threat— for the regular menu, as well as introducing seasonal selections such as (for the current year) eggnog (real eggnog butter cream swirled onto vanilla butter cakes topped with holiday sprinkles and freshly ground nutmeg), candy cane (wintry peppermint butter cream cresting vanilla or chocolate cakes topped with starlight mints), among others. And confidence, when well placed, always pays off.
In just a couple of years, by word-of-mouth, shrewd marketing, and savvy business know-how, she tripled her locations, and enjoyed solid success. So much so, that by late 2008, it was bursting at the seams. It was at this point that Jody recognized the need to expand and with it the need for financing. In the matter of just connecting the “dots” (the “do’s” and “don’ts” in accessing the appropriate funding), Michael Gaberman at Pacific Continental, was crucial. He introduced her to the SBA 504 loan program (a low down payment and fixed rate) via Evergreen Business Capital. “The down payment was only 10 percent, plus the terms on the 504 loan were locked in for 20 years.” The entire process turned out to be a capital experience all around. Jody raves about her negotiations with Evergreen’s loan officer, Pat Rogers. “I LOVED my experience working with her. She was thorough, up front, nice to work with and great at clarifying any questions. It was a stellar experience. Honestly! Thanks, Pat!” Eighteen new employees can also add their thanks to Pat. The funding enabled Jody to add them to her payroll, and, in turn, increase revenues by 28 percent at the new location. Prior to receiving her 504 loan, Jody had already been enjoying the sweet smell of success with her gourmet coffees and one-of-a-kind cupcake creations (which topped a 2008 Seattle Weekly’s poll for the “Best Cupcakes” in Seattle). With the financing, being able to address a panoply of needs with one fell swoop, has just been frosting on her cake(s).