Getting Creative with Crumb and Get ‘Em Cupcakes
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Story by Jordan Venema
Photos by Agape Studios
Who needs a brick and mortar when you’ve got batter and frosting? At least that’s what Jennifer Kenyon thought when she started her at-home business, Crumb and Get ‘Em Cupcakes.
“There are so many great bakeries out there doing it, so why do something that’s already being done?” asks Kenyon, who procured a Cottage License in Fresno County, allowing her to bake and sell out of her home.
Kenyon has baked most her life, though never out of control. Her mother baked, but probably no more than most mothers. “But I love creating warm environments, and I like bringing people together,” she explains, accounting for her hobby. “The best way to bring people together is with food. I mean, it’s easy to invite somebody over when you have cake.”
Hospitality seems to come naturally for Kenyon, who worked as the event coordinator for Downtown Fresno Partnership. Even now that she bakes full time, “at heart I’m still an event planner,” she says.
The real break through – or, ahem, bake through – came about three years ago when she began experimenting with cupcake recipes. “I started because my mother-in-law gave me a calendar for Christmas” that included a different cupcake recipe every month, Kenyon says. Soon she began creating and combining her own flavors.
It began as a hobby, but soon people were asking for her cupcakes, so Kenyon came up with a business name, then a logo, and soon “I had a business,” she says with a laugh. “I got sucked into it.”
At first, Kenyon probably had bitten off more of the muffin than she could chew. Working from home is a convenience, “but now my kitchen has become a bakery. Like twenty-four seven.” But as any recipe would call for proper balance, Kenyon is discovering the balance between hosting guests at home and rearranging the kitchen’s industrial equipment.
Of course, everybody wants a cupcake, Kenyon laughs. “Friends come over and are like, ‘Oh, I came by to say hi, but do you have a cupcake?’” And her husband? Well, he’s just as bad. Kenyon writes his name on cupcakes to let him know which he can eat and which to leave alone.
Still, Kenyon maintains a high output of cupcakes despite the many eager friends
and family who are willing to take them off her hands.
“The largest event I did was 500 cupcakes, and that was actually the first big order that I got as a business,” says Kenyon. “It was challenging because I had to figure out how to transport 500 cupcakes, and I only have one oven and one refrigerator, and I had just become a cottage license business.”
“So I woke up really, really early at about 2 am.” Kenyon laughs now, admitting she had baked maybe only a couple dozen cupcakes for previous orders.
Any baker knows the secret ingredient to baking is precision, and over the last three years, Kenyon has gained the experience to perfect her cupcakes down to a science. Which is somewhat ironic, since she says, “I’m not a cake person. I don’t really care for cupcakes, which is weird because I make them all the time.” She rarely eats her own goods, except when experimenting with new flavors and recipes, which she’s exploring all the time.
One of Kenyon’s most popular creations is her s’mores cupcake, baked with Campfire Stout beer and topped with chocolate and marshmallow frosting, including a graham cracker bottom.
“I go for creative flavors,” she adds, having partnered with local businesses like Tioga Sequoia Brewery and Lanna Coffee Roasters. “I like to work with different local businesses to create cupcakes for them.” For the launch party of Tioga Sequoia’s Midnight Mocha Beer, she baked cupcakes using the new draft, and she also created cupcakes using Lanna’s cold brew coffee.
More than working with other businesses, Kenyon wants her business to work within the community. Crumb and Get ‘Em recently won a Spark Tank award for social enterprise, given to businesses that have social impact.
“My whole business is to be able to create job opportunities and internship opportunities for young adults in low-income neighborhoods,” she explains.
“I live in Lowell neighborhood in Fresno, and I really like working with high school students, 16- to 21-year-olds. I want to create outlets, job opportunities for them, whether it’s baking or selling. I want to create an environment where young people are welcomed, where they can learn, and know that they are valued.”
While nothing says I value you quite like the gift of a cupcake, the social impact of Crumb and Get ‘Em might just take the cake. Yes, Kenyon’s cupcakes are sweet, but not as sweet as the influence she is having on the lives of youth in her community.
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