Carrie Spindler likes to think of herself as “the little baker that could.” But for the ambition and audacity it took to follow her dream, she might better be described as “the little baker that does.”
Spindler is the founder, owner, and baker-in-chief (not to mention dishwasher and delivery girl) of the GoodieBox Bakeshop, a bakery based in Weehawken. Specializing in home-style cakes, cupcakes and pies, the bakeshop is a new addition to the retail corridor along Park Avenue.
A Weehawken resident since 2003, Spindler found herself a victim of the recession in January 2009 after working for a Big Four accounting firm for six years.
Faced with unemployment, she decided to take a chance by giving self employment a try with a hobby that she’d been honing for 15 years: baking.
“This is what I love, this is what I want to do.” – Carrie Spindler
Spindler was able to use her background in accounting and human resources as well as advice from her old colleagues in her new venture.
Resolving that success in business would require low overhead costs, she began a bakeshop in September 2009 without a shop to in which to bake. She kept the “shop” on the internet.
Fueled by online orders and deliveries to New York City, Spindler quickly developed a loyal following for her signature red velvet cupcakes and other goodies. Shortly thereafter, an invitation from friends with their own retail spaces helped expand her business presence in under a year.
By using retail space in Vigneto Wine Shop on Park Avenue and the oven in Paula at Rigoletto, an Italian restaurant down the block, Spindler took her virtual bakeshop dreams into reality. The move also increased the sense of collaboration amongst local business owners.
“It’s a tough economy,” said Spindler. “We’ve all partnered our resources and we’ve all been able to benefit.”
Word of mouth
Weehawken resident Melissa Guerin stops by the GoodieBox frequently to pick up a few cupcakes just to have them in the house.
“I’ve lived in this neighborhood for six weeks,” said Guerin while biting into a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie. “And I’ve already been here four times. They’re awesome.”
Spindler said that the aesthetics of her baked goods are what draw people into the shop. “They provide whimsy and aesthetic appeal,” she said. “I start with taste, texture; those things are very important to me.”
Any of the whimsical baked goods that are not purchased each day are donated to the local homeless shelter.
“They’re still good,” she said. “But I want the product I am selling to be as premium as possible.”
Guerin agrees that the quality of the product is what keeps her coming back. “I really like the icing, the flavor,” said Guerin last week. “You can come in and get your favorite bottle of wine and a cupcake, indulge in your guilty pleasures.”
Word of Spindler’s goodies is also spreading in the celebrity crowd. She recently made treats for the birthday party of hiphop legend Slick Rick. As homage to his alter ego, “Rick Da Ruler,” Spindler fashioned mini cupcakes with a crown on top.
Living the dream
Spindler said that the response from the local community has been very positive, especially with repeat customers. She attributes this success to the support she’s received from others, including her “employees” who are actually volunteers, people who themselves have been laid off and are looking for something to do during the day.
“I’ve been lucky,” she said. “They’re donating their time to help.”
She has also gained a new appreciation for the intangibles on job descriptions that she once used when working in human resources. Terms like “self-starter” and “understanding your value” have taken on a new meaning.
“My commute has improved tenfold,” said Spindler. “But my breakfast is cake batter, and two-thirds of my meals have frosting on them.”
Yet the hard work is a small price to pay for living out her dreams. “This is what I love,” she said. “This is what I want to do.”
Spindler has partnered with a few coffee shops in New York City who are selling her cupcakes in their shops, but she would like to increase the GoodieBox presence in New Jersey.
She also plans to start a blog soon. “There’s a little baker in all of us,” said Spindler, who plans to share recipes and techniques on the blog. “I’d like to share my journey. I’m not a professional, I’m just passionate.”
Spindler is encouraging customers to think outside the traditional Valentine’s Day box this year and opt for a box of cupcakes instead of a box of chocolates. She has created cheeky boxed collections such as “I Know You Like It” (for die hard red velvet fans) and “Bite Me” (with centers that must be discovered by biting into them, just like chocolates).
To place an order or for more information, visit online www.goodieboxbakeshop.com or in person at 3712 Park Ave. in Weehawken.
Lana Rose Diaz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.