Kupiec ’89, INDS, Lives the Sweet Life

cupcake-3929The moment you step into Kupcakes & Co., you feel as though you’ve entered paradise–a paradise of bouffant icing, chic pink and black decor, and smiles. The smell of fresh-baked cupcakes permeates the air and friendly staff rush to fulfill your needs.

This delightful ambiance is one that Michelle Kupiec ’89, independent studies, has poured her heart into creating, with the help of her family and friends. It all started in 2010, after an extended illness left Michelle’s daughter, Amanda, on bed rest. Amanda loved to watch the Food Network, and she fell in love with shows like Ace of Cakes (featuring yet another UMBC alumnus, Duff Goldman ’97) and, when she was feeling better, she tried her hand at making a fondant cake, which lead to cupcakes, which lead to Michelle and Amanda renting space in a commercial kitchen. And from there, the cupcakes took on a life of their own.

cupcake-4090a“We started out baking for family and friends–it was easy to give away cupcakes,” says Michelle. ‘Then we started using higher quality ingredients and taking on wedding clients.”

Business was booming, so Michelle and Amanda decided to open their retail space in Elkridge, MD, in 2011. The whole family got involved to make the business work.

“My husband, Bill, is my best friend, business partner, web designer, and number 1 taste-tester,” explains Kupiec. “And my daughter Allison helped develop the space and select packaging and decoration for the store.”

Now, Kupcakes & Co. has 16 full- and part-time staffers who bake and decorate more than 10,000 cupcakes each week for walk-in customers and local restaurants, and they’ve recently expanded into even more space to make room for cooking classes and parties. In addition to their core cupcake lines, they also offer custom wedding cakes and an array of tasty treats like biscotti, biscuits, scones, and coffee. The recipe for success? Committed bakers and the best ingredients.

cupcake-4013“We’re so proud of our kitchen and what we do,” says Michelle. “We only use the best ingredients, and everything here is done by hand.” The hard work has paid off; in addition to the growing numbers of local customers, Kupcakes & Co. is also baking for celebrities like Gail King and Andrew Jenks.

But the success is just a sweet side effect, says Michelle. For her, this business is about her family and community. So it’s natural that she and everyone at Kupcakes & Co. are dedicated to giving back to the community, supporting projects and organizations like the Blossoms of Hope tree-planting program, the Ulman Cancer Fund’s Team Fight, and Howard County General Hospital’s Cupcakes with Santa.

cupcake-4036Michelle attributes the success of Kupcakes & Co. to dedication and hard work.

“I put my whole heart into what I do,” she says, “And we [family and staff] work so hard at what we do.”

Want more? Get Michelle’s tips on how to Upgrade Your Cupcake in the Summer 2013 issue of UMBC Magazine.

Gag Reels

Gag Reels

Aspiring actors and videographers often yearn to be discovered. But three recent UMBC students and alumni aren’t waiting around for a big break. They’ve made their own success by collaborating on a comedy web series called Monday Wednesday Friday (www.facebookwastaken.com).

The skits are performed by former UMBC student Darrell Britt-Gibson (who also appeared as “O-Dogg” in HBO’s The Wire) and Joe King ’09, mechanical engineering, and produced by Tal Levitas ’08, political science and media and communications studies. Each episode is a freestanding story, but there are running themes to the sketches, with Britt-Gibson and King appearing as pilots, sportscasters, CIA agents and even wild animals.

“For the animal shoots, we had to be in make-up for twelve hours,” quips King.

The team for Monday Wednesday Friday is based largely in Los Angeles, the better to be close to the entertainment industry. The series started in January and recently wrapped up its third season of videos, but they are already drawing in other UMBC alumni to the process – including Adam Kurtz ’09, visual arts, who designed the show’s Tumblr website.

The Monday Wednesday Friday trio is also garnering kudos from even better-known UMBC alumni such as Ace of Cakes star Duff Goldman ’97, history, who gave the show a shout out in a recent appearance at Auburn University.

Levitas says that the Monday Wednesday Friday team wants “to create sharp, funny comedy that is written, acted and produced well. We don’t want to present slow, long performances and we’re really serious about tackling this in a new modern medium.”

— Monica Berron ’12

Goldman ’97 Expanding Cake Biz to LA

As his Food Network show “Ace of Cakes” comes to an end, celebrity chef Duff Goldman ’97 is expanding his immensely successful Charm City Cakes business to Los Angeles, says the Baltimore Sun.

Read the Sun story here.

The (Business) World According to Duff Goldman ’97

Wanna be a celebrity culinary entrepreneur like Ace of Cakes star Duff Goldman ’97? Duff offers a few hints.   – By Ana Marie Cox

Read more in the Winter 2010 issue of UMBC Magazine

2009 UMBC Alumni of the Year & Distinguished Service Award Winners

Originally published Fall 2009

ENGINEERING AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

Dr. James P. Clements ’85, ’91 & ’93, Information Systems, was recently appointed President of West Virginia University in Morgantown, WVa. He is the first UMBC alumnus to lead a major university. Prior to his appointment, Dr. Clements was Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Towson University. A TU employee since 1989, he also served as a faculty member, Vice President for Economic and Community Outreach and Chairman of the Department of Computer and Information Sciences. Dr. Clements has published and presented more than 70 papers on management, information systems and technology. The fourth edition of his project management book is used in more than 20 countries and published in four languages.

HUMANITIES

Jeffrey “Duff” Goldman ’97, History, is known for turning traditional confections into out-of-this-world creations on his Food Network show “Ace of Cakes.” After completing his UMBC degree, Goldman attended the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, Calif. His company, Charm City Cakes, has baked cakes for events including the “Kung Fu Panda” premier and the Maryland Zoo’s annual Zoomerang gala. In 2000 he was a featured speaker at UMBC’s Alex Brown Center for Entrepreneurship. He also holds a Guinness Book record for baking the world’s largest cupcake, created in March 2008.

NATURAL AND MATHEMATICAL SCIENCES

Dr. Crystal Watkins ’95, Biological Sciences, studied at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She received the David E. Rogers Award for the highest standards of professionalism, medical ethics and community leadership. Dr. Watkins’ graduate research was featured in the Wall Street Journal and led to a U.S. patent for a treatment of diabetic disorders. She has also traveled to Ghana and worked with the Princess of Ada and Ministry of Health to implement HIV/AIDS health education and prevention programs.

SOCIAL AND BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES

The Honorable Jon S. Cardin M.P.P. ’96, Policy Sciences, represents residents of northwest Baltimore County in the Maryland House of Delegates where he serves on the Ways and Means Committee. Much of his legislation focuses on election, tax and education reform. In February he was awarded the Humane Society of the United States’ Humane Legislator Award for developing legislation that gives shelters access to drugs needed to properly sedate animals prior to euthanasia. Cardin also serves as a member of the Board of Directors/Advisors for the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival, the Camp Shohola Scholarship Fund, Baltimore Hebrew University, UMBC Hillel, The American Council of Young Political Leaders, Institute for Progressive Leadership and the Maryland Public Interest Law Project.

VISUAL AND PERFORMING ARTS

Laura Pasquini ’98, Visual Arts, is the director of Youth and Family Programs at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in the Washington, D.C. She oversees the operation of all classes, programs and camps for children and their families. In her time there she has redefined the overall vision and mission of the Corcoran’s after school program, Corcoran ArtReach. She installed and supported fundraising efforts for the annual ArtReach exhibit. At UMBC, Pasquini worked in the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture as an undergraduate intern where she worked to make art exhibits accessible and interesting to public school students through a series of creative projects based on gallery exhibits.

DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD

Gustavo Matheus, Esq. LLC ’90, Biological Sciences, is always thinking of new ways to connect with UMBC alumni and is particularly interested in engaging alumni in the Washington, D.C. area. He is intimately involved in growing and maintaining the Esperanza Endowment, which supports and inspires current and future UMBC students of Latino or Hispanic ancestry and/or students who are committed to the advancement of minorities. Matheus, who practices law in Rockville, Md., mentors student members of the scholarship committee and has been instrumental in connecting with alumni who choose to support the fund.

RISING STAR AWARD

Alicia Wilson ’04, Political Science, is an associate at Gordon Feinblatt, Rothman, Hoffberger and Hollander, LLC. Prior to her position the firm’s Litigation Practice Group, she served as a clerk for the Honorable David Young for the Circuit Court of Baltimore City. Wilson spent her third year of law school at Susan Leviton’s Juvenile Law, Children’s Issues and Legislative Advocacy Clinic. She also coached the Mock Trail team at the Baltimore Freedom Academy – a high school with curriculum and culture focused on social justice and activism.