Our Small Business Snapshot series features photos that represent, in just one image, what the small businesses we feature are all about. Leslie Feinberg, co-owner of Prohibition Bakery, a business she founded in 2011 with Brooke Siem that creates mini cupcakes with a boozy twist, explains how this image represents their business.
These cupcakes actually were a result of a recent partnership we did with Alacran Mezcal. Partnerships like Alacran provide us with an opportunity to experiment with flavors and ingredients that people might not expect from a cupcake. For instance, with Alacran, we combined their delicious mezcal, which has a wonderful smoky flavor, with a little sweet and sour from blood oranges and a little spice with ancho chili seasoned salt. It’s always fun to introduce flavors to a cupcake audience that they might not be as familiar with or be skeptical of, and watch them absolutely love them.
Brooke (my fellow co-owner) and I met on a birthright trip in 2011. We were generally bored and not satisfied with the jobs we had. What started as a fun idea to entertain ourselves and make a little extra cash very quickly proved to be extremely interesting to people — including those outside of friends and loved ones who were obligated to demonstrate interest — so it grew quickly. We started baking out of a home kitchen, then moved to moonlighting in a catering kitchen. We eventually created a Kickstarter and were able to raise enough money to graduate to our own big-kid, albeit tiny, bakery. From inception to official paperwork was about a week, if that. It was pretty crazy, looking back on it.
The majority of our business is catering, and in fact our bakery was originally intended as a production space. As we were doing the buildout, people kept poking in to see what we would be selling and expressing excitement at the addition of a bakery to the block, so it just made sense to also offer a walk-in retail experience.
Our biggest challenge is continuing to be relevant in New York City’s ever-expanding dessert scene while staying true to our brand and making a product that we’re as excited to produce as our customers are to eat it. Besides that it’s a lot of not-so-sexy stuff like making sense of taxes, learning a lot about plumbing, carpentry, and electrical, and staffing. When you have a small business, the finished product and experience is such a small part of the process, and I think a lot of people starting out have fantasies about spending their days immersed in the thing they love and forget about all of the other stuff required to have a successful business. It’s not always a soft focus montage of cakes and flour fights in the kitchen.