“I could make the sun shine from pure desire” — Steve Winwood, 1986 in “Higher Love”
If there were ever two young entrepreneurs that would make the sun shine from pure desire, I think I may have met them. The lyric from the song “Higher Love” epitomizes Kaleigh Ligoci and Lauren Scarpelli.
On Thursday, Dec. 3, the Greater Liverpool Chamber of Commerce cut the ribbon and officially welcomed Ligoci, Scarpelli, and their Sugar Blossom Cake Shop to the village of Liverpool. Their glass dessert cases on the first floor of the bakery are filled with colorful macaroons, cupcakes, cookies, bars, brownies, and gluten-free pastries. Specialty coffee is served by the cup or purchased by the bag. The second floor is a spacious loft with high ceilings and a lot of natural light. It’s available for taste testing and custom consultations for weddings and special events.
Kaleigh and Lauren both have energetic, bubbly, and passionate personalities, but it would take more than those qualities to move their decision to open their own bakery from point A to point B. Despite their young age, they both have what it takes to make their business a successful endeavor as they have complemented their educations with hands-on practical experience in the baking industry. Ligoci studied baking production and management at Alfred State College. Scarpelli studied baking and pastry arts at Paul Smith’s College in the Adirondacks. Ligoci worked for several local entities including Mario’s Bakery in North Syracuse, the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, and the Half Moon Bakery & Bistro in Jamesville, which is where she met Scarpelli.
Ligoci is the cake creator for the bakery. She has an impressive following on social media as “The Little Cake Artist” and is well known throughout the Central New York area. Scarpelli is the head baker at Sugar Blossom and is regarded as an outstanding scratch-baker. When you meet them, it’s apparent that that the chemistry between the two is tremendous, which is what led them to pursue a dream of building and growing something of their own. Both knew they had to combine their chemistry and passion with an executable plan.
Henry Ford once said, “Enthusiasm is the yeast that makes your hopes shine to the stars. Enthusiasm is the sparkle in your eyes, the swing in your gait. The grip of your hand, the irresistible surge of will and energy to execute your ideas.” As many entrepreneurs know, starting a new business can be intimidating but starting a new business during the COVID-19 pandemic can be downright frightening — whether you have a plan and enthusiasm or not.
Lauren’s and Kaleigh’s dream began back in November 2019. Patience and persistence would be imperative for them given the business plan and the environment that we have all been trying to navigate through. Many of you have heard the metaphor “success is an iceberg”. What that means is that people only see the tip of the iceberg (success) but the bulk of the iceberg is beneath the surface and goes completely unseen. The bulk represents planning, hard work, focus, learning, patience, and persistence that is required to create a successful business.
Following their initial business meeting with the Onondaga Small Business Development Center (SBDC), this dynamic duo went to work. With the help of the Onondaga SBDC, they researched the industry, created a business plan, selected an accountant and an attorney, worked with a real-estate agent to secure a location and formulated financial projections, prior to securing an SBA-backed loan. They were “professionally persistent” at chipping away at the variety of legal, financial, and logistical steps that needed to be accomplished prior to selling one item. As they put it, “Mark [Pitonzo] and the Onondaga SBDC guided us through the entire process. We felt confident speaking with and doing business with Mark. He helped set us up for success and we’re so appreciative that we were able take advantage of this great service!”
Lauren and Kaleigh have been very successful utilizing social media to create awareness of their products and services through creation of a web site and an Instagram page. Additionally, joining the Greater Liverpool Chamber of Commerce has helped to create that additional geographic “buzz.” So much so that it’s led to one of the early challenges of their business — meeting the demand for their gastronomical delights. Sugar Blossom has enough diversification through its seasonal pastries, wedding cakes, and ability to accommodate special events that the business will be well-positioned for the future. Ultimately, the success of any bakery hinges on the quality of its products. Creating a niche for their bakery through stunning cakes and unusual pastries will set Ligoci and Scarpelli apart and help them to build a loyal customer base.
The village of Liverpool has fully embraced the bakery and its delectable baked goods. The Sugar Blossom Cake Shop is located at 304 Tulip St. in Liverpool. It’s open Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. You can find the bakery on the web at www.sugarblossomcakeshop.com or follow it on Instagram, where it has close to 2,500 followers.
Advisor’s Business Tip: Every new business needs a plan to succeed. Even if you’re not in need of external funding, it helps you define your business, prioritize your goals, identify your target customer base, understand who you’re competing against, determine ways in which you’ll generate revenue, estimate expenses, and navigate through operational “speed bumps.”
Mark Pitonzo is a business advisor at the Onondaga Small Business Development Center. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org