Read an Excerpt
Mia Fashion Plates And Cupcakes
We Are Such Pros!
Do you need help with those, Katie?” I asked.
My friend Katie was carrying two cupcake carriers stacked on top of each other, and a bag of supplies dangled from her wrist. It made me a little nervous watching her. Katie is my BFF here in Maple Grove and I love her, but she’s had some serious cupcake disasters before.
“No, I got it,” Katie assured me. She carefully placed the carriers on our cupcake sales table and then looked around. “Wow, there’s some cool stuff here.”
We were inside the Maple Grove Women’s Club, which may not sound superexciting, except that it was the day of their craft fair. Local artists and craftspeople were setting up tables with the stuff they’d made, like knitted scarves and handmade beaded jewelry.
“Yeah, I hope we can look around a little,” I said. “Alexis was really smart to suggest we set up here.”
At that moment our friend Alexis walked up to us, carrying a notebook and a cash box.
“Did I just hear you say I was really smart?” she asked with a grin.
I nodded. “I never would have thought to sell cupcakes at a craft fair, but it’s kind of a genius idea.”
“Not genius, just obvious,” Alexis said. “People who go to craft fairs get hungry. Besides, our cupcakes are handmade too, and they’re like little works of art. I think the decorations and flavors you guys came up with are genius.”
“Thanks,” I said. I was pretty proud of what we had done. “We should get things set up before it starts.”
My mom is a member of the Women’s Club, so I had arrived early with her and started to set up the table. Once Alexis had suggested we sell at the craft fair, we came up with a theme: “Crafty Cupcakes.”
Whenever we do an event, we have to plan out a bunch of things: what flavor to make the cupcakes; how to decorate the cupcakes; how to display the cupcakes; and how to decorate the table. For the craft fair, I thought we should stick with what people think of as traditional “cupcakey” colors—pink, mint green, light blue, and yellow. So the first thing I did was put down a pink tablecloth. We had used it for a baby shower once, and we like to reuse things to help with the costs.
Then I set up a backdrop, which I made from one of those big trifold cardboard displays that you can get for school projects. For the middle panel, I cut out letters from scrapbook paper to spell out “Crafty Cupcakes.” The papers had little white flowers and dots on them, so it looked really cute. Then I had drawn some pictures of cupcakes along with pictures of crafty things, like paintbrushes and yarn and knitting needles.
On each side panel, I had printed out our Cupcake Club logo: a cupcake in a light blue wrapper with pink icing and a red cherry on top, and the words “cupcake” above it and “club” below. I had designed the logo myself at summer camp. We made T-shirts with the logo too, which we wore whenever we had a Cupcake event. Anyway, I stood up the backdrop at the back of the table, and then I was ready for the cupcake displays.
It’s tempting to buy cool new stuff for our displays each time, but then we wouldn’t make as much profit. And Alexis is always talking about profit, since that’s the money we get to keep. So we usually reuse what we can or make what we need. For this display, however, I bought some wooden cake stands from the craft store and painted them in our cupcakey colors. Then I added a clear, shiny coat so that it would be safe to put food on the stands. They looked really pretty on the table. They were on sale, and they were something we could use over and over again, so they were worth buying.
“I’ll get the rest of the cupcakes from the car,” Katie said, hurrying off.
“Mind if I set up the cash box?” Alexis asked.
“That’s fine. I’ve got this,” I said.
I slipped on some thin plastic gloves and opened up the first carrier. It contained our first batch of cupcakes: vanilla cake with vanilla icing, decorated with flowers made of fondant. Fondant is this paste made of sugar that you can roll out like dough and cut into shapes. We’d used pink and yellow for the flowers, so I put them on the green cake stand for a nice contrast.
The second carrier held our “yarn” cupcakes. We’d made red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Then we’d used marzipan, which is a sugary almond paste that you can shape into stuff—kind of like edible modeling clay. We’d dyed it blue and then rolled it into little balls of “yarn,” to go with the crafts theme. The yarn looked really cute sitting on top of the icing. I put those on the pink cake stand.
Katie came in carrying more cupcake carriers. The third held chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting. We’d decorated them with little jelly candies that we thought looked like jewels. For our fourth kind of cupcake, we had gone with one of our more adventurous flavors—lemon ginger—because a lot of people will buy a cupcake if it’s a flavor they’ve never tried before. We’d topped them with pale-yellow lemon frosting and decorated them with birds.
I think I was most proud of the bird cupcakes, because I had experimented a lot to find the best way to do them. You know those old-fashioned candies that are shaped like leaves? I thought they kind of looked like birds’ bodies. So I’d sliced them through the middle to make them thinner. Then I’d used little tubes of icing to draw on an eye, a beak, and wings, and I’d made swirly designs all around them. They looked really amazing.
Katie helped me put the rest of the cupcakes on the stands, and then we stashed the carriers under the table. Alexis, Katie, and I stood in front of the table to see how everything looked.
“This might be our nicest display yet,” Alexis remarked. “It’s too bad Emma is not here.”
Emma, the fourth member of the Cupcake Club, was off on a modeling job in the city.
“I’ll send her a picture,” Katie said, taking out her phone.
Alexis scrolled through the screen on her own smartphone. “So, display, check. Cupcakes, check. Business cards, check. Cash box, check. Flyers, check.” She looked up at us. “Wow, I can’t believe it. I think we’re all set. We didn’t forget anything.”
I checked the time. “There’s a few minutes before the doors open. I want to look around before it gets busy.”
“I’ll watch the table,” Alexis offered.
“Thanks,” Katie said. “I want to look around too.”
So Katie and I walked around the room, checking out the crafts. Some of the stuff was kind of old-fashioned and looked like my grandma would like it, but some of it was really cool. We went to a table with beaded jewelry first, and Katie picked up a bracelet made out of chunky glass beads.
“This is so cool! The beads look like candy, almost,” she said.
The woman setting up the booth smiled. “I call that my ‘candy shop’ style,” she said, and then nodded to our shirts. “So, you’re the girls from the cupcake stand?”
We nodded. “Yes,” I said. “We started a cupcake club at school and turned it into a business.”
“That’s really ambitious,” she said. “Good luck today!”
We thanked her and moved on to a table full of knitted scarves and then to another cool table with all these awesome animals and creatures sewn from felt. The girl behind it looked like she was in high school, and her blond hair was streaked with red and purple.
“These are sooo cute!” Katie squealed, picking up a little green squirrel with a goofy face.
“That’s my favorite one,” the girl said.
Katie dug into her jeans pocket and pulled out some bills. “I have to get this. You’re coming home with me, Nutsy.”
I laughed. “Nutsy?”
“Well, she’s a squirrel, isn’t she? And squirrels like nuts,” Katie said.
“I think it’s a good name for a squirrel,” said the girl, giving Katie her change. She also handed over a business card with the name Super Stuffies on it.
Then I noticed people were starting to come through the doors, so I tapped Katie on the arm.
“We’d better go help Alexis,” I said.
When we got back to the table I saw a glamorous-looking woman with long black hair standing there. She wore black skinny jeans, black boots, and a black short-sleeved turtleneck. For a second I didn’t recognize her.
“Hi, Mom,” I said, running up to her. My mom always looks stunning, whether she’s at the supermarket or going out to eat at a hot restaurant in the city. You’ve always got to look good when you’re a fashion stylist.
“Mia, the table looks lovely,” Mom said. “You girls did a wonderful job.”
“They certainly did.”
A gray-haired woman walked up to us. She wore a long, flowy purple tunic over black leggings, which made her look very artistic.
“Mia, this is Mrs. Barrows, the president of the Women’s Club,” my mom said. “This my daughter and her friends Katie and Alexis.”
Mrs. Barrows looked over the cupcake booth. “This is a lovely addition to our craft fair. I can’t believe you girls made these cupcakes yourselves. They’re beautiful!”
Alexis took a vanilla flower cupcake from the stand. “They taste as good as they look,” she said, handing her one.
“Why, thank you!” Mrs. Barrows said. She unwrapped it and took a bite. “You’re certainly right. This is delicious! You girls are quite professional.”
Then two women walked up to our table, and we had to go into “sales mode,” as Alexis would say. Katie and I answered questions about what was in each cupcake, and Alexis took the money, made change, and made sure everyone left with a business card and a flyer.
It was kind of a long day. We were pretty much busy the whole time, and we took turns leaving the table to eat the bagged lunches we had brought. Things finally slowed down in the afternoon.
Alexis put her hands on her hips, surveying the table. We had about two dozen cupcakes left. She looked around the room, counting.
“We should give one to each of the vendors,” she said finally. “I don’t think we’ll sell out, and these are the kind of people who appreciate homemade things.”
I’m always amazed by Alexis. It’s like her mind is constantly churning out great business ideas.
“Let’s do it,” I agreed, and we took turns going to the tables and giving a cupcake to each vendor—along with a business card, of course. Everyone was really happy to get a cupcake.
We even had time to do a little shopping by the end of the day. I bought a really cool crocheted infinity scarf with black fringe along the edges, and when Katie wasn’t looking, I went back to the jewelry table and got her the bracelet that looked like candy. I figured I’d save it for her birthday.
I also went back to the girl with the stuffies. One of her creatures was a little purple monster, and I thought Ethan might like it. He’s the mostly-annoying-but-sometimes-cute son of Lynne, my dad’s girlfriend.
“No charge,” the girl said when I tried to pay. “That was an awesome cupcake.”
“Wow, thank you,” I said. “That’s really nice of you.”
When I got back to the table, Alexis was counting out the cash box.
“Except for the cupcakes we gave away, we sold them all,” she said, looking at the clock, “with only five minutes to go. That’s pretty perfect.”
“Definitely,” Katie agreed.
“Mrs. Barrows said we were professional,” I reminded them. “Maybe she’s right. I mean, it’s like we’ve figured out how to smooth away all the problems we usually have.”
“This was a pretty smooth event,” Alexis agreed, “but there are always going to be problems. That’s just the way it is in a business.”
“Maybe,” I said. “But I’ll keep my fingers crossed that things stay smooth.”
Little did I know that things were about to get bumpier than lumpy cupcake frosting—but it wasn’t the Cupcake Club’s fault at all.