My oldest son Luke was 18 months and he was not talking. He had a speech delay and I started researching about diets that would help him develop his speech. I came across the Gluten Free Casein Free Diet. Luke had an allergy to dairy since birth, but I didn't know much about anything gluten free. When I started searching for places to make the cake (gluten free and dairy free) for him, nobody at the time knew what I was talking about.
I knew there was a necessity in having a local bakery/baker that could provide this. So I called my grandmother and she gave me some cake recipes that I transformed into vegan and/or gluten free recipes. I went online and looked for a domain and www.bunniecakes.com was available (I don't know how I came up with that name but I thought it sounded cute). I created my own website on my laptop and took a couple of pictures of the cupcakes I was baking.
I had a full time job at the time, but during lunch hours I would go to restaurants with samples of my mini cupcakes to see if they were interested in selling them. I found a couple of restaurants that were interested. I used to bake at night after work until 2-3 in the morning. After a couple of months I decided to quit my job and I started full time out of my apartment. It was really scary because I had an 18 month old and a newborn and my husband, at the time, was unemployed. But I always believed in my product, eventually I had more than 10 restaurants to supply weekly.
I used to bake, decorate, deliver, answer the phones and emails, make the estimates and invoices and take care of my two sons. I got pregnant with my third child and I thought I was going to have to stop, but I never did. The same day that I delivered Amelie, my third child, I baked and decorated more than 200 cupcakes with my mom. Eventually production grew so much that I had to hire an assistant and another person to make the deliveries.
Online, I met another amazing business owner that offered to share her warehouse and kitchen space with me. I moved to a warehouse in Little Haiti and from there we delivered to all our retailers. But I always knew that I had to have a storefront because it was difficult to find what I was creating, and I wanted to make it accessible to everyone.
From that point, I started looking for investors, lenders, etc. It was such a long process, but I was a pioneer in Miami for these pastries. The risk I was taking was so elevated and I was an eternal dreamer in everyone's eyes. I had so many disappointments, and so many people turning me down, so many people telling me over and over again that "I was a dreamer and dreamers don't get any loans." I never gave up though.
After looking for 2 months I found what I thought was the perfect location, it was an empty building, 4 times the size of her production facility, in a neighborhood that was still considered dangerous, everyone advised me to look someplace else, a smaller space, to expand my product line to include dairy products, but as a true dreamer I pushed on and signed the lease. After hitting walls with several banks and investors, because everyone thought the business was never going to meet the sales and projections, at the end, it was my family who believed in me, and gave me the money for the build out and equipment and scheduled to open the doors on February 9th of 2013. At this moment an opportunity knocked on my door and it was to cast for a TV show called "Cupcake Wars" in Food Network. After sending in the video I was selected and flew to Los Angeles to film the show in which we came in 2nd place and got great reviews for the product. The show aired in 2013 giving the company a big marketing push and nationwide recognition.
Opening day came and it was a huge success, leading to an amazing first year were we tripled our projected sales, and for the next three years we increased our gross sales by 25% annually. In October 2016 we secured an incredible opportunity in which we started to sell our cupcakes in the 6 Whole Foods Market in Miami Dade County, and our wholesale revenues grew by 50%. As we needed to expand our production capacity due to the new wholesale account and increased retail sales we decided to lease an empty building behind our retail store and started the build out for a commissary that would be able to supply our new wholesale opportunities as well as future retail expansion.
In July 2017 we opened our new facility in which we also decided to create a space for cupcake decorating activities, workshops and birthday parties due to constant feedback from our customer over the years. As we opened our new commissary we were approached by no other than Starbucks Coffee, indicating their desire for Bunnie Cakes to be their local food vendor in a new opportunity cafe concept they are developing all over the world. After completing the on boarding process, in October 2017, we started selling our mini vegan and gluten free passion fruit cupcake in 12 Starbucks locations in Miami which created a huge marketing wave nationwide since it was the first time Starbucks had added a vegan and gluten free baked good to their menu items.
Along the way Bunnie Cakes has earned several awards, among the most recognized we have: Best Vegan Bakery in Miami, Best Cupcake in Miami, #2 Best Bakery in Miami in TripAdvisor for three years in a row, Job Creation Award by Governor Rick Scott. Following our success, other businesses have also opened similar concepts to capture the growing market for dairy free and gluten free food market.
Bunnie Cakes is a staple in the Miami Vegan and Gluten Free Market with opportunities of expansion in both the retail and wholesale channels.
Bunnie Cakes is now ready to expand our retail operation as we are in the process of building a new store in Downtown Doral scheduled to open fall 2019.