Everyone is blessed with a talent or passion. Some of us find it early on while others go through many trials and some errors searching to find what they were born to do. For one natural baker, it was easy to figure out the talent she was blessed with.
It started out as a hobby; an escape from the intrusion of the “real” world. After years of wowing family and friends, Mia Bauer decided to take her beloved passion for baking and develop a career. The idea of opening a bakery was conceived by Mia and her then boyfriend, Jason, and within just a few months, a bakery called CRUMBS was born on the Upper West side.
The couple’s intention was to open up a neighborhood sweet shop where Mia and Jason could work together and create a business. Six years later, their small creation has turned into a haven for cupcake lovers across the country.
Bauer began baking at a young age, developing various sweets and dazzling her family and friends with her creativity. There was no limit for her when it came to baking. Cookies, cupcakes, cakes, you name it, and she baked it. Having a sweet tooth herself, Mia loved creating sugary concoctions and became known for her outrageously large cupcakes with unusual toppings.
Although baking came easy to her, Bauer never dreamed of pursuing it as a career. Instead, she headed off to college and eventually graduated from law school. As an attorney, Mia was drawn to politics where she worked as a legislative counsel in Mayor Giuliani’s administration, aiding in writing bills that eventually were put into law.
Although satisfied with her position in city government, after a while Mia felt that she wanted to venture into something new. She teamed up with Jason Bauer who was an experienced entrepreneur and, throwing caution to the wind, decided to open up a bakery. It was a no brainer that cupcakes would have to be a part of the sweet treats offered to customers. “The summer before CRUMBS opened, I created a vanilla coconut cupcake that my friends and family couldn’t get enough of, so I decided to include it on the menu” says Bauer. In 2003, Crumbs was born on the Upper West Side offering six varieties of Mia’s enormous cupcakes; vanilla coconut, blackout, vanilla rainbow sprinkle, chocolate rainbow sprinkle, strawberry and Oreo.
Local residents repeatedly came into the small store asking about the curiously large cupcakes. Once tried, the oversized cupcakes produced an oversized demand. In response, Mia created even more unique cupcakes and, after six and a half years, CRUMBS has become known predominantly for its over 150 varieties of cupcakes (although they do sell cakes and other baked goods, too). Along with its expanded varieties, CRUMBS has expanded nationally as well. Mia and Jason now own and operate a total of 26 stores nationwide and there is no limit in sight.
The greatest reward for Mia in all of her success has been seeing her new customers become regular customers. She is insistent on keeping a community feel in all of her stores and at one point decided to offer slices of her crumb cake straight from the baking pan, similar to how one’s grandmother would serve it. As the business has grown, however, this has proven to be much more complicated than originally thought. Despite the challenges, Mia has been able to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere in all of the stores that she opens.
While Mia develops the hometown feeling in each shop, her husband, Jason, is focused on making sure everyone can try the famous cupcakes by charting the expansion of CRUMBS into new areas of the country. With the opening of each new CRUMBS, the Bauers invite the local community into the store with a different promotion or contest. The recent opening of a new store, for example, resulted in the distribution of free cupcakes to the first 1000 customers. “Instead of simply offering bite sized free samples of the cupcakes, the promotions proved to be more effective in getting people acquainted with the new bakery and allowing them to taste a whole cupcake, not just a tiny piece,” explains Mia.
As CRUMBS makes it way into different cities and the cupcakes continue to wow more people, Mia expects there to be more promotions and contests. When asked who creates of all of the cupcake recipes, Mia answers, “I can’t take credit for all of them. I have created approximately 75% while my employees and customers have made suggestions and have submitted their ideas through contests we have held.” Mia’s openness to the suggestions of her staff and customers is just another example of her determination to make people feel at home, bring the community together and build a loyal following. While the cupcakes continue to make their way around the country, Mia, Jason, their daughter and dog stay firmly planted on the Upper East Side where they are able to enjoy one of their favorite past times, going to Central Park.
Mia loves her job and it shows in her enthusiasm for creating of new kinds of cupcakes. She provides an example for all entrepreneurs by tapping into her passion, giving up an easy and expected career path and revolutionizing the baking world by putting her creative, over-the-top cupcakes on everybody’s map.
Woman Around Town’s Six Questions
Favorite Place to Eat: It used to be Café des Artistes before it closed because the food was consistently delicious and I had so many fond memories of going with my mom. Now it’s more along the lines of Alice’s Teacup because I have a 2 year old daughter.
Favorite Place to Shop: Nolita, when I can make it – the clothing and the food are all so exciting.
Favorite New York Sight: I will always be a great admirer of Central Park. You can always discover something new in the park and the history is remarkable. I also have a few others such as Lincoln Center at night with the grandeur of the Met or parts of Grand Street which still feels like a place my grandmother belongs (although not for much longer).
Favorite New York Moment: Definitely when the snowflake goes up over 5th Avenue and 57th Street. The holiday season is in full swing then and my husband and I get so excited because we love NYC at this time of year.
What You Love About New York: Almost everything…but especially that you can live here your whole life and still get “lost” on a street you have never been down or in a little shop you stumble across. Sometimes you feel like you are in a foreign city on a vacation.
What You Hate About New York: Sometimes New Yorkers can be overly demanding and entitled. Mostly, it’s a great quality about New Yorkers that they expect the best, but sometimes it crosses over into ugly.