From The Top: Mom opens cupcake shop in Naperville
By David Sharos For The Sun February 14, 2013 12:36PM
Joan Selitzky, of Bolingbrook, opened Miss Joans Cupcakes, 3344 S. Route 59 in Naperville, in June. | Submitted
Updated: March 18, 2013 6:37AM
Some folks are fortunate enough to take a hobby or a passion and turn it into gold.
These days, Bolingbrook resident Joan Selitzky is up to her elbows in the world of baking while enjoying her second career as the owner of Miss Joan’s Cupcakes, a mom-and-pop business she and her husband, Barry, opened on June 22. The store was the product of 18 months of planning, and once the Selitzkys found the right location in Naperville, they’ve never looked back.
“I worked for 23 years for Kraft Foods in Addison where I did sales and training and developed materials,” the 48-year-old said. “I went to school at Southern Illinois and got a degree in journalism. I graduated in 1987 and went to work for Kraft right after that. I feel the training and material development I did put my journalism degree to good use.”
Years passed as she and her husband began raising their two daughters, Rebecca, 15, who attends Neuqua Valley High School, and younger sister Emma, 12, a student at Gregory Middle School. Selitzky wanted to run a business of her own, and baking cupcakes seemed to go right along with a passion for what she calls, “an easy-to-eat comfort food.”
“I’ve always been drawn to cake, which is my favorite dessert, and I love cupcakes because you can have 10 people over at the house and each person can get whatever he or she wants,” she said. “When we opened the store, we started with eight everyday flavors, and eventually added about 30 more. Today, we have about 60 flavors altogether, and we’re still trying new things.”
Selitzky said the most difficult part of the process in launching a business was finding the right location and then having to work to modify her home-baking techniques with the different ovens she uses in her store.
“We wanted somewhere that was close to home, and it had to be a place with high visibility and high traffic volume,” she said. “In terms of production, I knew I needed at least 1,500-square feet of space, and it turns out that this location is only 10 minutes from our house.”
Today, Miss Joan’s Cupcakes, 3344 S. Route 59, sells out of cupcakes almost every day. Initially she thought the business could be handled by just a couple of people, but today she has 10 employees, including Naperville resident Shannon Kemerly, who joined Selitzky’s team within the first month she opened her business.
“I work as a baker and decorator, and Joan is amazing with her customers,” Kemerly said. “People come in not knowing what they want to do for a party or a design, and she always comes up with a solution. She has this amazing energy and creative ability, and I’ve learned a lot from watching her. She’s 100 percent committed to this.”
Kemerly said Selitzky often puts in long hours, and she appreciates the effort it takes to run your own business.
“Joan is also a real people person, and she’s a wonderful teacher in terms of showing employees how to decorate things,” Kemerly added. “People catch on quick.”
Selitzky’s top seller continues to be red velvet cupcakes, followed by a chocolate peanut butter flavor and then a take on the popular S’more flavor.
“One of our most unusual cupcakes is a ‘Candy Bar’ that includes a vanilla cake, M&Ms, peanut butter, and seven or eight different candy bars we break up and sprinkle on top,” she said. “The people that come in here are all over the board. We get a lot of men clients that sneak a cupcake on the side or stop and bring some home.”
At $3 per cupcake or $33 per dozen, folks just can’t seem to stop from having their cake and eating it too. And as for Selitzky, she admits indulging in her own creations.
“I don’t eat one every day, but I love them all, and it’s still a treat for me to eat them,” she said. “There are people that just come in here and say, ‘I’ve had a bad day and I need a cupcake’ — and that’s what it’s all about.”