After discovering how difficult it was to find nut-free desserts for their children, Brian and Sonia Walker decided to whip up their own solution in the form of an allergy-safe cupcake business. As they expand into other kinds of treats, the Walkers work to bring awareness to food allergies and hope to satiate the appetites of those with and without peanut allergies.
Name of owners: Brian and Sonia Walker
Hometown: Elk Grove (Brian) and Des Plaines (Sonia)
Name of business: Nutphree's Cupcakes
Describe what you do/sell/serve:
We offer fresh-baked desserts that are peanut- and tree nut-free. Currently we are offering a variety of nut-free cupcakes, cakes, cookies and cake pops. We also sell a variety of nut-free candies. We’re also in the process of prepping a room that can be rented for cupcake parties.
When did you open your business?
We have been in business for approximately 18 months, starting out of our home and, as of August 2012, opened a storefront to accommodate the increasing demand of our nut-free cupcakes.
What sets you apart from similar businesses?
Our facility and products are peanut- and tree nut-free. Our treats are liked by people with or without a nut allergy. Sadly, there is a continuous increase in food allergies and we know firsthand how difficult it is to find a bakery that can offer nut-free treats.
What qualities or characteristics make you a successful business owner?
Passion, drive and motivation. We believe in what we’re doing and understand firsthand how it feels to have a loved one suffering from a nut allergy. We’re the parents of three children, two of which are allergic to peanuts and trees nuts, so we understand the difficulty in finding products that are truly nut-free. Every holiday or celebration is surrounded by desserts and we understand the need for a nut-free treat.
Why did you decide to open your business in Mount Prospect?
We wanted our business to be close to home and in an area with easy access to major expressways.
Why did you pick this specific location/storefront?
We liked that it was located on Rand Road and had plenty of parking. This location had the electric and plumbing that we needed to create our kitchen space.
What obstacles did you find when you started? How did you overcome them?
One of the major obstacles we’ve found is just getting our name out there, letting people know we exist. We have been able to overcome in some capacity due to the help of social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and also some great food allergy awareness partners and blogs/websites.
If you could offer local officials one piece of advice to make their town more attractive to entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Help new businesses out by working with them. Help them answer questions they have with regards to permits, signage, etc. Make the entrepreneurs feel as if you want them to start a business in your town by providing guidance.
What mistakes did you make? What have you learned throughout the years?
This is our first venture into the food industry so every day is learning experience. We’ve had to learn everything from choosing the right equipment to finding new ways to promote our business.
What did you do right?
Starting the business. Having the courage to create something that solves a problem. Every time we see a child come into our bakery that can pick anything out for the first time assures us that we’re doing the right thing.
What advice would you give to someone else looking to open a business in Mount Prospect?
Do your research and know what the various permits, zoning, restrictions, etc. that come with opening a business. It will help you get up and running a bit faster.
What do you love most about your job?
We love that we’re making a difference. We’re providing nut-free products and we’re also promoting food allergy awareness. Some people just don’t understand the need for nut-free products and it’s such a great feeling when you know you’re an advocate for something so important.
What is the most rewarding part of owning your business?
The customers. We continue to receive a great deal of support and feedback from our customers, which include kids, parents, grandparents, teachers, doctors; all who know the importance of providing a safe product for individuals living with nut allergies.
To what do you attribute your success?
Our passion for providing a product that helps those with nut allergies feel they can enjoy the same thing everyone else is enjoying. On top of that, we make an excellent product that can be enjoyed by those with and without nut allergies.
What is your favorite thing you sell and why?
Our cupcakes. We are constantly coming up with new flavors and decorating ideas.
259 E. Rand Rd., Mount Prospect
Store hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Wednesday; Thursday, Friday: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. Pickup and delivery available; call for details.
Profile edited by Lauren Comitor. Local businesses who would like to be featured in TribLocal should email firstname.lastname@example.org.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun