Working Mom’s New Cupcake Business is a 'Dream Come True'
Sherry Sheppard, a Pinellas Park city worker and soccer mom, opened I Love Cupcakes on Belcher Road in February.
Cupcakes have a reputation for being a fun food.
The sweet, colorful treats usually bring a smile to the face of those who eat them, transforming adults into children and providing kids with a respite from fruits and veggies.
In the case of Sherry Sheppard, owner of I Love Cupcakes, the tasty pastries she creates are making her as happy as her customers.
“I have been baking since I was 9 years old,” the energetic mother of two says. “To be doing what I’m doing now, this is my dream, and it’s come true.”
From Cottage to Corporate
What began as a hobby morphed into a business for Sheppard, who works as a planning and zoning analyst for the City of Pinellas Park during the day.
She honed her skills over the years, making cupcakes for friends and family before using the Cottage Food law to start selling what she was baking in her home.
Last year Sheppard, with prodding from her supporters — including her husband, Marc — began looking for a shop; in October she found it, nestled in the back of the Weston Plaza just south of Ulmerton Road.
“This place looked nothing like it does now,” she recalls. “I didn’t think we could transform it, but my husband knew we could.”
Now the shop is a bright, pink space that practically screams “fun” and dares customers not to be happy while picking up their favorite flavored treats.
Not your Grandmother’s Cupcakes
There’s no denying cupcakes are hot right now, thanks to a slew of shows on the food networks and plenty of bakeries capitalizing on the craze.
What sets Sheppard’s shop apart from the rest of the pack is the variety of flavors she offers, as well as the fact that she sells gluten-free, egg-free and vegan cupcakes.
“My niece has an egg allergy, and I wanted her to be able to have dessert, so I began experimenting with egg and gluten-free cupcakes a few years ago,” she relates.
“As far as I know, we are one of the few bakeries in the area that does gluten-free and the only one that offers vegan cupcakes. We also offer by far the largest selection in the area.”
With flavors like lime in the coconut, mint julep, strawberries & champagne and French toast with bacon, it’s hard to argue with that claim.
And so far, the specialty cupcakes have been a huge hit.
“I don’t do sugar, and my daughter is vegan ... so this place has been a godsend,” says Seminole resident Kate Smid, who was picking up an order for her daughter’s 21st birthday.
“The amount of choices she has here completely blew me away.”
Franchise in the Future?
With her years of hard work finally paying off in a big way, Sheppard can’t help but think of what the future might hold for her new venture.
She says her five-year plan is to franchise the company, and she’s encouraged by the fact that almost all of her business has come via word-of-mouth and her website, with basically no walk-in sales.
“It’s exciting because people come here because they want to come here,” she says.
She also knows that she picked a good time to launch her potential cupcake empire.
“Cupcakes are very trendy right now ... that doesn’t hurt at all. But it’s also about our selection and quality. They’re good.”
Address: 13220 Belcher Rd., Unit 10
Hours: Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri, 9am - 2pm; Wed, 9am - 1pm; Sat, 10am - 4pm; Sun, closed