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Let 'em Eat (Cup) Cakes

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darleneandsue--larger--for_NewCo-2MILFORD — By calling herself and business partner Sue Schowerer the “Lucy and Ethel of the cupcake world,” Darlene Delaney emphasizes the pairÂ’s light-hearted, fun-filled approach to creating cupcakes.

Take, for example, the habit of rolling her eyes. Delaney discusses the practice in an audition video the partners made for the Food NetworkÂ’s Cupcake Wars competition.

“I do it all the time. And it’s in a loving, caring way,” says Delaney. “I do it to my kids. buy valium do it to the grocery guy. I do it to the mailman. here do it to the camera guy. It’s an expression, it’s part of me, it’s who I am, and it’s done in a loving, click here way. That’s all I can say.”

Pictured: Showerer, left, and Delaney at their SuzieCakes cupcake shop.

What does rolling oneÂ’s eyes have to do with baking cupcakes? Absolutely nothing. But thatÂ’s the kind of easy banter and exchange buy valium can expect when they step foot in SuzieCakes, the new cupcake shop Delaney and Schowerer opened at 252 Melba Street in October.

“We welcome everyone to come in,” says Delaney, who adds that the personal touch is a key ingredient for their business.

“We’re here to meet and greet every customer who comes in,” she says. “In this economy, if you don’t have customer service you won’t have any type of business.”

Mixing customer interaction with a determined work ethic is what led the Delaney and Schowerer to open their first company together. The two are indeed cousins. They grew up together in Oswego, N.Y. As adults they lived on separate coasts for decades, but maintained close family ties. A few years ago they began collaborating on recipes. They also researched the market to see if specialty cupcakes — their collection includes a variety of flavorful combinations — might be a viable product.

“We started out with a concept. We wanted to do something together,” says Delaney, noting that she and Schowerer complement each other. “I’ve got the vision, I think outside the box, and she’s got the talent.”

They launched their business online in 2010. A Groupon offering resulted in almost 700 cupcakes being sold within a week.

“I think cupcakes are still a very attractive commodity,” says Delaney. “We use natural ingredients and unusual ingredients.” For example, a butternut squash cupcake with sage cream cheese frosting tested very positively, she says. Another winner was a fresh sweet potato cupcake with cranberry compote and a marshmallow-based topping.

The cupcakes are usually sold out each day, says Delaney, who moved to Connecticut from California this summer to consolidate the pair’s business operations. After raising her children to adulthood, she felt the time was right to make the move.

“It was time for me to go do me,” she says. “So there is life after children.”

Even with positive customer feedback about their product, the cousins and best friends didn’t want to move too quickly with their new enterprise. They entered into a symbiotic business deal with Kathy’s Cookies, renting space in that company’s brick-and-mortar establishment. That saved Delaney and Schowerer the expense of securing a sole location as well as the cost of equipment.

“She [Kathy’s Cookies owner Kathy Klein] was pretty open to it,” says Delaney, adding that there’s no suggestion of infringement. “We’re totally different entities.

“I wanted to look for a pop-up location. It was the most affordable thing for us to do, and it just made sense all around to join an established business.”

Delaney added SuzieCakes will grow in small steps. She sets no time frame for the next one, but looks forward to expansion.

“I think we’d like to have a flagship store here,” she says.

SuzieCakes is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily except Monday. For more information, visit the company website at suziecakes.com.

 

—  Felicia Hunter