Main Street Cupcakes’ co-owner Sarah (Kalina) Forrer ’02 expands her specialty small business
By Emily Gaffney ’12
The aroma of sugar fills your senses as soon as you walk into Main Street Cupcakes, co-owned by Sarah (Kalina) Forrer ’02 and her sister, Kimberly Martin. Main Street Cupcakes is a cupcakes-only bakery, but it’s more than a bakery – it’s a small business.
“We’re not a scoop shop,” Forrer says. “Sure, we want to sell you a cupcake to celebrate the ‘A’ you got, but that’s not our focus. We want to cater events – your graduation and your wedding. It’s our bread and butter. That’s our major push.”
Catering events is a significant part of the business. But Main Street Cupcakes also stays ahead of its competition by partnering with other well-known companies to co-brand its product. It has sold products in Nordstrom, Playhouse Square, and on the Home Shopping Network.
“They reached out to us, and that’s who you want to work with – people who want to work with you, not those you have to hound,” Forrer says.
Forrer attributes the success of the business to confidence, quality, and customer service. They’re confident in their product – cupcakes. With more than 250 flavors and their homemade buttercream frosting, Forrer and Martin know they have a quality product their customers love. They also realize they’re in the customer-service business.
“Communication is so important,” Forrer says. “You have to make people feel comfortable working with you and know how to approach people.”
Forrer and Martin also emphasize connecting with customers through public relations and marketing. One way they do this is through social media, such as Facebook. On the company’s Facebook page, which has more than 8,000 likes, the owners post job openings, daily flavors, and upcoming special events.
Because of its success, the company has three locations in Ohio: Hudson, Rocky River, and Medina. Martin started the company with her husband, Sean Nock, and Forrer in Hudson in 2007 to fill a gap in the area.
“My husband is a phenomenal baker, and through my travels, I noticed a trend in specialty food that Cleveland hadn’t hit on yet,” Martin says. “After finding the perfect destination location, I went for it.”
The business’ growth lead them to open additional locations in Rocky River in 2010 and Medina in 2011.
Forrer, an English major at Carroll, helped the burgeoning company with marketing and worked on the weekends. When she transitioned to working with Main Street Cupcakes full time, she transitioned to co-owner. Bringing Forrer in as a co-owner was a natural progression.
“She’s my right arm,” Martin says. “We complement each other and bring opposite thinking to the company. Our partnership allows us have a well-rounded approach to running the business.”
Before her transition, Forrer joined the business with her sister as the company grew. She worked in the hotel industry and gained experience working with weddings and parties for the InterContinental Hotels Group. She also worked in public relations and marketing for InterContinental and as a project manager for the American Cancer Society. Now she handles the communication side of the business, while her sister focuses on the financial side, handling contracts and project logistics.
Main Street makes classic-flavored cupcakes such as red velvet, chocolate, and vanilla, as well as flavors such as Big Breakfast (a French toast cupcake with bacon), Orange Float (a white cake with orange soda and vanilla buttercream frosting), and Mojito (a white rum cupcake with buttercream frosting) to name a few. The recipes are a team effort. Some, such as the Miami Vice cupcake, have been inspired by vacations. The various recipes give customers a classic dessert in a cupcake with a creative take.
“We want to give people that comfort and familiarity, but make it our own,” Forrer says.
Forrer has remained in the Cleveland area, and she’s happy she did. It allows her to cultivate relationships she has built throughout the years.
“I miss John Carroll and that sense of community,” she says. “I’m glad I’ve stayed in the area because I love still having that community there.
Forrer’s experiences at Carroll and in other jobs have been stepping stones to where she is now, and she’s happy where that is.
“It’s fun to work at a bustling business that allows you a creative outlet,” she says. JCU