Polkadots Cupcake Factory (Menu), now fast approaching its 2nd anniversary, was one of the first cupcake shops to open up in the Austin area. We’re glad to see them thrive in an increasingly crowded Austin cupcake market, and the TastingBuds are fans of Polkadots, as shown in our Austin Cupcake Comparison Test from last year.
Peter recently visited the Polkadots kitchen to chat with Olga Lee, one half of the couple that owns Polkadots. She was hard at work, but had time to chat at the store, which specializes in custom cakes, cookies, and of course various types of cupcakes.
TastingBuds: You quit a lucrative consulting job to follow your dreams of going to culinary school and running a cupcake shop. What was going through your head, and what made you decide to take the big leap?
Olga Lee: Everything is possible. While I was working in my tiny cubicle, I was thinking that one day I was going to be the BOSS and living to life with extreme happiness. When I was young, I thought money was everything. Boy… I was wrong!!!
I got my Engineering degree dreaming that I would be happy and living life to the fullest. Nope. While I was working at the office, I was a machine, doing the same thing again and again.
Now, I love working with my hands and making cute little things, so (working in the cake shop) I feel like I have accomplished something at the end of the day.
What’s the best part about running a cupcake store?
I choose my holidays and how long I want to work! Oh.. and the thank you notes and the criticism from customers (good or bad).
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about running a business in the food industry?
It’s not easy. Things never turn out the way you think they’re going turn out. There’s always a problem with equipment. Broken ovens, sinks, coffee machines, AC, you name it. Also it’s hard keeping low costs and low overhead!
What’s the biggest challenge you guys face?
Managing employees, finding ones that you can trust who are loyal, hardworking, and get to work on time. One of my girls is “graduating” from Polkadots, she is going to French pastry school in Chicago. I am very proud of her!
Describe your average customer. Also, what are their favorite flavors?
We have customers of all ages, ranging from 11 months old up to their 80s! The salon next door sends us a lot of customers, and they do hair for older ladies. One of them used to be Lady Bird Johnson.
The favorites are red velvet and black bottom cake (chocolate cake with cream cheese and chocolate chips baked in – http://www.flickr.com/photos/polkadotsaustin/2986514209/)
You also do custom cakes – What are your favorite cakes to make?
Ones that are clean, simple, modern, and of course ones with polkadots!
What do you enjoy doing when not making cupcakes?
When I am not working, I like to go work out at Pure Austin (*support local businesses!), eat dinner with friends, play tennis, do yoga, make arts and crafts (cross-stitching), and catch up on sleep.
What are your favorite foods (other than cupcakes)?
I love meat! Especially rib eye, sausages, and Korean BBQ. Also, hot and spicy food (Indonesian and Thai) and donuts for sweets.
After a long day in the kitchen baking and decorating, what do you cook for yourself when you go home?
I don’t have time to make fancy meals – my favorite quick foods are curry ramen, eggs, and pre-marinated chicken fajitas from HEB!
Thanks for the interview Olga, and best of luck to you and Polkadots in the future.
You can read more about Polkadots on their official website at www.polkadotscupcakefactory.com.
Photos courtesy of Peter Tsai Photography