Tiny cakes becoming big business
No one who meets her can be surprised that Jennifer Rogers, of Winona, has had such success with her business Mon Petit Cupcakes.
With her energy, creativity and business acumen — and on very little sleep — she has grown her business from a booth at Thursdays on First to something that not only attracts lines of customers, but corporations as well.
"It has been an amazing ride, but fortunately I have been able to keep a few steps ahead," Rogers said. These days, she employs a full-time certified pastry chef, Ashley Wagner, a graduate of the baking and pastry program at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. There is also a large kitchen at Lark Toys, in Wabasha, where the baking is done, space in the Kensington building, in Winona, where cupcakes are decorated, and freezer space in Winona, too.
If you think cupcakes are on the wane, you haven't tried one of Rogers'. The secret? She describes her confections as being more in the European tradition — simple, understated, with the aroma and flavoring of the natural ingredients making them especially distinctive. Most of her ingredients are sourced locally and are organic.
"My philosophy is based on the French paradox, using the best ingredients I can get and eating just a small amount, a nice sweet at the end of a meal," she said. That philosophy is in keeping with her previous career, dietician. She has a master's degree in nutrition.
Rogers' biggest challenge to date was providing 5,000 cupcakes for a corporate meeting in Texas.
No worries. Undaunted, the cupcakes were baked over a two-week period, wrapped carefully and frozen, then driven to Texas in a freezer truck. Rogers herself flew down and worked with local pastry chefs to put on the finishing touches.
She also recently provided 1,000 cupcakes for a Mayo event. That increased corporate interest has prompted her to add another side to the business, "Boardroom Cupcakes and Patisserie by Mon Petit Cupcakes," geared specially to corporate clients.
Rogers' success aroused the interest of Food Network, which asked her to submit a tape for the network's "Cupcake Wars." She has.
The backbone of Rogers' business is providing cupcakes for graduations, birthdays, showers and other special events. Between now and the end of June, she estimates she'll sell 5,000 cupcakes. On average, she sells 500 at Thursdays on First & 3rd.
Though cupcakes are her main business, Rogers has also added high-end, European-style tier cakes for weddings.
"These are amazing," she said. "My pastry chef turns out incredible creations."
Cake pops and macaroons are also available.
Her bakery offers a wide variety of flavors, but she brings seven of the most popular ones to her "Thursdays" booth: white wedding cake, chocolate chocolate, turtle, mint chocolate chip, pucker up, tart lemon curd and fleur de sel. She also has weekly flavor specials, and her cupcakes come in two sizes — regular and petit bites.
You'll find Rogers' booth in front of Laskers. Some of her sales proceeds are donated to charity.
If you miss Thursdays on First you can buy Rogers' cupcakes at Chocolaterie Stam, in University Square in Rochester, at Bluff County Co-Op and Sandwich shop in Winona, and, in a few weeks, at Lark Toys in Kellogg.
Cupcakes are sold online at www.monpetitcupcake.com or ordered by phone at 507-358-8504. And, on top of everything else, she delivers!