A daughter’s wish helps create a cupcake company
Aug 05, 2020 02:57PM
By Kathryn Elizabeth Jones
The Jensen family. Everyone, at one time or another, has helped in the business. (Photo courtesy Natalie Jensen)
By Kathryn Elizabeth Jones | [email protected]
Natalie Jensen, owner and cupcake creator at So Cupcake in Millcreek, believes in using her life to make something good. And delicious.
“I never thought I’d own a bakery or make cupcakes for a living,” she said. But her daughter’s wish changed that.
Jensen’s daughter, Celina, now 21, and living with cerebral palsy, baked with her mother for years.
“Emeril Lagasse used to have a show on the Cooking Channel, and Celina’s wish was to go to New York City and meet him. Her wish was granted through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and she loved it. We ate cupcakes, and that trip totally changed me,” Natalie said.
“I used to make cupcakes from a box at the grocery store,” Natalie said. “And then my sister-in-law asked me to do a cake for her birthday. It got me to thinking that we needed to do something with Celina and cupcakes to boost her self-esteem.”
“Even today she is recognized for it,” Natalie said. “Though we started from nothing, (Natalie recalls starting the business in her home kitchen) people remember my daughter and know her still.”
Celina’s story is on the wall of So Cupcake, and the small store is filled with many cupcake flavors to thrill the eye and palate. Cupcakes are made fresh daily, and many cupcakes are filled with pudding.
“We have 60 flavors currently, though we don’t do them all every day. And we are still creating new flavors,” Natalie said.
Natalie’s husband, Kevin Jensen, created the So Banana Cream Pie cupcake with graham crackers, one of the most popular cupcake flavors. So Maple Bacon has been a hit too, along with So Double-stuffed Oreo, So Strawberry Shortcake and So Strawberry Cheesecake.
“I have a good understanding of what’s yummy,” Natalie said, speaking of her lack of formal experience when it comes to baking. She was a social worker first for three years, and before that worked in The Children’s Center in their preschool department.
“I guess you could say I love working with kids. I like to watch their faces. How they laugh at things,” she said.
Though things have changed a bit since COVID-19, So Cupcake has managed to stay open, continuing their connection with children and their parents through to-go orders, curbside pickup, and free delivery within a 10-mile radius, as well as in-store orders.
“There’s a special feeling at So Cupcake,” Natalie said. “This store is in Celina’s honor. She grew up in this store.”
While the typical tea parties, which her 11-year-old daughter Cosette helps with, were put on hold for a few weeks, they have been up and running since the end of May.
“Sure, we have to be careful,” Natalie said, “but we are doing an extra level of clean.”
So Cupcake’s hour-long tea parties include a story time, activities, “tea,” and an activity bag to take home. “But now, everyone has their own tray. They work great and keep everyone’s stuff separate.”
Though the last tea party was small, Natalie is preparing for the time when more children will feel like they can come by providing picnic tables allowing for more space between children.
“It’s all right to be careful,” she said. “Some people want to stay home, and we’re doing the best we can during this interesting moment.”
So Cupcake has a play area for children. There are not as many toys set out as usual, in order to keep things in control, but every toy that is out is sanitized.
For those who choose to stay home and take in the sweets, every Wednesday at 2 p.m. Natalie reads a story on her Facebook page, So Cupcake. And she is providing a free activity bag (one per dozen mini cupcake order) for children interested in at-home fun. Additional bags are $5.
“I can’t believe we did this,” Natalie said when she speaks of opening the store. “It has been a total learning process.”
Today, So Cupcake has turned into a “special little store. We’ve become a destination point. I hope we are still here in five to 10 years. I hope we keep making good cupcakes, new flavors, new things to do. I hope we can continue to learn together.”
“Things change; so far we’ve been able to keep up with it.”
So Cupcake is located at 4002 S. Highland Dr.