The first time you meet Sara Townsend, you may feel like you’ve just found your long-lost friend. Some people have a certain “it” quality about them and Sara is definitely one of these people. She has the perfect combination of wide-eyed, creative, dreamer with the right amount of drive and disciplined ambition. Her enthusiasm translates into her business,Sara Belle’s Bakery, a local, custom bakery offering signature square mini cupcakes, gourmet cookies and made-to-order iced cookies.
The idea and the inspiration for Sara Belle’s blossomed from an everyday annoyance. Sara’s previous career in pharmaceutical sales was successful, but creatively, it was stifling. Bringing treats to clients with a clever little note was just part of the routine but after bringing the same pretty but bland, store-bought desserts, Sara thought, “You know what? I can do it better.”
Unlike most professional bakers, however, she didn’t come from a traditional pastry background — or any type of culinary background for that matter.
Of course, that meant first thing first – learn to bake. Yes. Learn to bake. Next – create new recipes – tasty, with unique flavor combinations – like cupcakes made of cornbread cake and jalapeno honey frosting, for example. Lastly, turn this after work hobby into a full-time business.
What may have seemed like a foolhardy venture to some has turned into a full-time endeavor. It wasn’t an accident though. It was a year of intense, hard work, long nights and little sleep; a harebrained idea that evolved into teaching herself a new skill, turning that into a business plan and setting a goal to have it all done within a year. She laughs in retrospect at how the deadline sounds, “I mean obviously that would be the next step, right? You’ve never baked anything, so why not open up a bakery?”
Looking back on the way she got started is still amazing to her. She remembers how she thought, “I’m not even going to crawl before I run a marathon. I’m just going to run a marathon. And it was just like – I’m going to start with owning a bakery. It’s funny because I’ve tried a lot of different things. I went back to school for interior design, I’ve dabbled in fashion and photography and I really enjoyed all of those things creatively, but I got to be honest, I never would’ve imagined in a million years that it would’ve ended up on baking. But it works.”
She doesn’t take all the credit though; she attributes a lot of her success to Austin itself. “There’s not another city that I can think of that could be as supportive and encouraging as Austin. This is a city that is like none other in that they really rally around people that have small businesses, an idea and a dream. Sometimes I just sit back and say I’m so fortunate to be in this city and be succeeding.”
Now, her unique creations are in demand for corporate events, baby and bridal showers, weddings and parties. Her square mini cupcakes are the answer for black-tie galas and dinners where a cupcake with mile high frosting can mean sudden death for an evening gown. Plus, with unique cupcake flavors these options can fit any theme. Her iced cookies especially, are edible works of art and customized specifically for each customer’s vision – from storybook characters and party themes to custom monograms and magazine logos. (Wink, wink.)
Commitment to her clients is her main objective. She not only wants to create the “perfect marriage between something pretty and something that tastes good” but she wants to provide something special for each client and their guests. She’s always looking for new ideas and new ways to create, so we’re sure we’ll see much more from Sara Belle’s. It’s still early in the game, so it’s hard to imagine what’s next. It’s likely there’s a plan is in the works but one thing is for sure. As Sara says, “Whatever it is, I’m sure it’ll be fun. I’ll make it fun.”