A sweet startup

Snickerdoodle cookies. Photo: Esther Kum/Estie Cakes
Snickerdoodle cookies. Photo: Esther Kum/Estie Cakes

When Esther Kum was younger, she often baked with her mother. It was nothing special; they used pre-made cake mixes from the box, but she thought it was all fun.

It wasn’t until the summer of 2012 that the junior, who’s studying mathematics and minoring in education, started baking from scratch out of pure curiosity.

“I’ve always been iffy about baking from scratch because I’ve heard from people that it can be tedious because baking is a science,” Kum said. “But I tried it out one time over the summer and it’s something that I’ve loved doing ever since.”

Now she makes mini moscato cupcakes, vanilla pudding chocolate chip cookies, cinnamon sugar-dusted French breakfast rolls – you know, the usual baked goods that college students make in their free time.

Kum’s love for the art of baking has morphed into a startup called Estie Cakes that runs out of her Mahan kitchen and occasionally out of her home in Huntington, N.Y. She calls it a “dream” and hopes to eventually own a “decent-sized” bakery business later in life.

Estie Cakes began in mid-February and Kum made an official Facebook page for it just two weeks ago. As of yesterday, she has received 104 likes.

She never expected to start such a thing in college, especially since baking is hobby for her.

“It was never about business for me, and it still isn’t,” Kum said.

Her baking decorations are often inspired by “Cupcake Wars,” a Food Network reality competition that challenges four bakers across the country to make their best cupcakes which are judged on taste, presentation and theme. The most recent episode afforded one lucky baker the chance to cater a party at the I Heart Radio Music Festival in Las Vegas.

Though Kum is passionate about baking and bakes three to four times a week, she maintains that school is her first priority. Kum aspires to be an elementary school teacher – possibly in special education. Once she gets settled, she hopes to juggle these two.

Right now, balancing Estie Cakes and her schoolwork is “easier than I thought,” Kum said. While students might relieve stress through writing, reading and/or exercising, Kum uses baking as an outlet. She bakes when she needs “to take a break from homework and studying.”

Kum hopes to learn more about business and management in the future and is considering taking classes if her schedule allows her it.

For some small start-ups, companies use guerilla tactics to get their name out there. But Kum doesn’t need an advertising team; she has her friends and family.

The whole idea of Estie Cakes actually started out as a way to share her baking with friends. She posted pictures on Instagram and Facebook.

In addition to using social media to show off her baked goods, she also uses Instagram and Facebook to represent a “baking journey” and her experiences of trial and error with recipes that she finds on the internet.

She is not sure how well this startup will be or in what direction it will go, but in the face of uncertain future, Kum remains optimistic about the task she is undertaking.

“Even if this [start-up] doesn’t take off in the future, at least it’s something that I can say that I tried to make happen, and it just happened to not work,” Kum said.

Article published on April 3, 2013 in The Mirror

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