(Joshua Yospyn/For The Washington Post)

We spent our last $50 on our only advertising, a banner announcing the opening of our new cupcake bakery. I don’t know if it was the chocolate aroma escaping from cracks in the old wooden townhouse, the cold weather that drew people into a cozy space, or the novelty of a new bakery opening on Valentine’s Day, but my sister and I
baked and sold 500 cupcakes by midday. We closed, baked 250 more, opened back up and sold all of those, too. For six months, the two of us did all the baking. That was just five years ago.

This incredible reception was not what we had in mind, which was people placing phone orders for special occasions, plus a little walk-in business. My sister, Katherine, and I daydreamed of opening a bakery since childhood. As adults, she worked in fashion and I in biotech venture capital, but we always had our bakery obsession. We pictured the two of us drinking coffee at a cafe table in our little neighborhood shop, baking a few dozen cakes or cupcakes each day.

I think it’s just as hard to have too much business as not enough. After a few frenzied months, our mother suggested we close for two weeks and regroup, but we couldn’t do it. We already had bonded with our customers. If a mother and daughter take a road trip that includes a stop at Georgetown Cupcake — from Nebraska! — we don’t want them to find us closed.

Today we bake about 10,000 cupcakes a day in Georgetown, 20,000 a day total. Although we have five shops and 400 employees now, Katherine and I are still in the weeds, considering every detail, and we like it there. We don’t outsource. We take no shortcuts. Creating the most delicious, perfect cupcakes requires the best ingredients, and we take quality seriously, but our business is ultimately all about making people happy. With our customers, we celebrate weddings, birthdays, babies, dinner parties and graduations. It’s so joyful. When customers come into Georgetown Cupcake, we want them to feel like they are coming into our happy, fun home. We hire staff that exudes our spirit. Ritz-Carlton is our role model. You can teach skills but not personality.

Our love for baking came from our grandmother, whose home we ran to after school every day. Babee loved to bake, and that was pretty much our after-school activity. It’s her recipes that got us started and our family that keeps us going.

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