It has not taken long for Long Island City to get a taste of some of the newfangled flavors that originated just down the road in Williamsburg.
Guava, French Toast and Coquito, to name a few, are just some of the acclaimed confections coming out of Brooklyn Cupcake’s fast-growing and trendy ovens.
Sticking to their Puerto Rican and Italian family roots, Carmen Rodriguez and her sister Gina Madera started the cupcake company just a year and a half ago.
“We actually bake a flan, insert it in a cupcake and top it with our frosting,” Rodriguez explained. “Because we’re Latin and Italian, we didn’t come out and just do the classics. We brought our heritage to the table too, and in that we’ve designed some pretty unique flavors.”
Rodriguez remembers childhood memories of visiting Italian bakeries with her family, and looked to them for the inspiration for cupcakes like Rainbow Cookie and Tiramisu.
“We grew up with those cookies,” she said. “They were our favorite.”
Today, they have three locations in Brooklyn and Queens, including the Barclays Center, the location in Williamsburg, in Long Island City at 5-43 48th Ave., and will open yet another next week at 61 Pearl St. in DUMBO.
With just five full-time employees, the family has spent “zero” dollars to market the cupcakes, but has generated over 6,000 Facebook and Twitter followers.
In addition to the start-up funding and dedicated support from her family, Rodriguez attributes strong ties to the community and God for her rapid success. However, it is the unique tastes that she says keeps her customers coming back for more.
“You can’t stop a good product, and you can’t stop a good attitude,” her husband Gus Rodriguez said. “The social media side of it is what really carried it along, through to this neighborhood and Williamsburg.”
Just a couple of years ago, Mrs. Rodriguez was unemployed and had no idea what she was going to do with her future.
She looks back to where she was just a few years ago and notes that her success story has not only changed her world, the life of her family and all of those that supported her from the start; but it also gives hope to anyone looking to start a business of their own in a struggling economy.
“Here you had in the middle of a recession, Latin women who basically went back to something that was pretty primitive in nature,” Mr. Rodriguez explained. “In the first year, people who lost their jobs were coming to them for inspiration, and they still come around from all over.”
Today, Rodriguez travels back and forth with her husband every day, checking up on her life-changing cupcakes and keeps a close watch on what her customers are looking for, a far cry from the unemployment lines she stood in just a few short years ago.
“I think it happened because we’ve been hard workers all of our life,” Mrs. Rodriguez said. “It is just our time.”