Everyone has probably had a moment at their desk at work where they've thought, "I don't want to do this anymore. There's gotta be something different, something better, for me." So few of us actually follow through on that impulse, though. And for good reason: there are bills to pay, careers to protect, and failure is a real possibility.
But some people do make the jump. Rachel St. Martin is one of them. Unhappy with her job in corporate PR, Rachel quit so she could start Spa City Cupcakes in Saratoga. The shop just opened this month in the Downstreet Marketplace on Broadway, offering, as Rachel describes them, cupcakes that are "big and real" in flavors such as creamsicle, s'more and "Elvis Has Left the Building."
Curious -- and hungry for dessert -- we stopped by to ask Rachel a few questions...
What brought you to this point?
I was in the corporate world and enjoying it probably as much as anyone in the corporate world enjoys it. And I worked for a company in NYC remotely and it just... I was not very happy. And the one thing that's always made me happy is baking. So, all throughout my life, whether it was with my grandma when I was little, in college for my friends, or later on as my cathartic activity at the end of the day, baking was it.
There were a million times when I said, "I'm gonna do it!" and then I got scared. At one point, I said, "I'm definitely going to do it." And the next day, this was after I found out I was pregnant, I thought, "I can't do this and I'll wait 'til next year." But I just find that if you do that, someone else is just going to jump in and do it. So finally, my husband was like, "You have to do this! Or you're never going to do it." And he gave me the push that I needed, and now he gives me the support that I need every morning to do it.
I've always lived by the fact that if you'd don't do it now, you're going to regret it. I mean, how many people do you talk to who are in their 60s or 70s and say, "I wish I had (fill in the blank)."
So, you have this love of baking, but why focus on cupcakes?
They're fun. To me, a cupcake is something that brings you back to childhood. There are a lot of places out there that try to make them really fancy, or almost untouchable, or "unindulgeable" -- if I can invent a word. Cupcakes are supposed to be something you can indulge in, that bring you back to childhood, that makes you think about being in the kitchen with your mom or grandma where they're baking something from scratch. You know, we don't use anything but real ingredients here, so I feel like it brings you back to that kitchen as a kid.
The one thing that I've always tried to keep as I've grown up, and was in the corporate world, is the part of me that is creative. I loved writing and I loved all the creative sides. I think that you can bring that to baking. And I think that some people are afraid to go ahead and combine flavors and see what happens. You can try something and it might not be good. But the whole point is that it's a little tiny cupcake. You can try it and it might not be great, but then you know what to fix the next time. So, it's fun.
You have some pretty crazy frosting flavors -- how do you go about coming up with them?
The last year we've been really focusing on, if we did this, what our flavors would be and how we could make it awesome. My husband is incredibly creative, and he named all the cupcakes, so I have to give him full credit. We just thought of things we liked. And then I was pregnant, and I thought of things I wanted when I was pregnant. Sometimes you combine flavors -- we did lemon and chocolate chip the other day and I loved it. It wasn't a big seller, but it was something fun to put in the case. People love coming in and seeing all those flavors. I love to see people's reactions.
It does seem like you get something from watching people eat their cupcakes.
It's the best part of the job. We don't have labels for the cupcakes right now and I almost don't want to because it's so fun to walk people through the flavors. And they have so much fun with it. The greatest part is when all the tables outside the shop are filled and people come back in to say they loved it. Or, I have regulars already, and they come back and bring their friends and say, "I tried the cookies 'n cream and I want to try something else" or "You have to try this!"
So, what's your favorite flavor?
Peanut butter chocolate.
Peanut butter chocolate is the best combination in the world. (big smile) Come on.
This interview has been edited and condensed
Spa City Cupcakes
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
The shop is on the lower level of the Downstreet Marketplace. Go down the steps and look ahead to the right. You'll see the shop's sign and yellow walls.
We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.