NEWCOMERSTOWN — The Cupcake Queen is very sweet.
Josie Durben is only 11 years old and has become a cupcake tycoon, so to speak, as she’s started her own business catering to the sweet tooth in everyone by making cupcakes of vanilla, chocolate, butter cream and just about any other combination of an 11 year-old imagination.
The daughter of Sascha and Chad Durben of Newcomerstown, Josie has taken advantage of a program started through the Newcomerstown West School to create her own company, Josie’s Cupcakes, that is gaining some traction locally.
“Around Labor Day weekend last year, I was in L.E.A.D. (a West School program in Newcomerstown) and chose ‘Cake Decorating,’ (taught by Marjorie Hursey). I thought, ‘I’m pretty good at this.’ I love that I can make other people happy by making cupcakes and I like that if it doesn’t work out, I can do it over.”
Well, that includes forgetting to add baking soda, which resulted in several batches early on looking a little — well, no, a lot — flat.
Last April, after Josie was in the cake decorating club through the after school program at West School, she entered a Create-A-Cake Contest at the Newcomerstown Public Library. She had to make the cake from scratch and decorate it herself. Patrons at the library viewed and tasted all the cakes that were entered and rated the cakes on different categories. Josie won third place in the contest, so this experience, along with the cake decorating club, were inspirations to her.
The business started, more or less, on Labor Day weekend, when Josie posted on Facebook a picture of one dozen cupcakes with red, white and blue icing and blue sprinkles. Daniel Leakey, who had worked as a technology department assistant in the Newcomerstown schools, bought them.
“I was thinking that was pretty fun and then Jenna Marstrell asked about taking orders and after Jenna, orders starting coming in through word of mouth and Facebook. That led to a baby shower of cupcakes for three people at the Newcomerstown West School and a cousin’s birthday party, five dozen for that, vanilla and chocolate and unicorn cupcakes. Since then, family and friends, people have had get-togethers and said, ‘Can you make these for me?’”
Josie said she’s making 15-20 dozen cupcakes a month and said, “It’s probably going to be my job. For the PTO’s ‘Think to the Future’ event at the West School, I went dressed as a baker. I’m learning to take care of finances. I’m learning different things through doing this.”
Josie and her mother, Sascha, noted that Daniel Leakey was not just the first customer, but also invested, giving an extra donation to make sure Josie had supplies. Leakey has his own businesses, including Fifth Day Aqua and Revital-U (described as smart coffee and smart cocoa), and works with another company, Navigate Prepared.
The most important thing for Josie, is, “that I can make people happy and that I’m active in doing something, and whenI get home from school, I can do things. My parents said, ‘If you do this, always think of God first, 10 percent off the top. The second thing is keeping 50 percent for supplies and what’s left over is 20 percent for college and 20 percent for me.
“The best thing is probably getting to help other people, make their plan for a party better with cupcakes. If I look ahead I still seeing doing it. It’s enjoyable. “
Sascha, Josie’s mother, said, “I could see her doing this through school. She still has school, dance, piano. We can’t overload on the business side. It’s a stepping stone to see where it goes in the future.”
Josie also thanked Barbara Lallithan who helped her learn how to make roses with the icing, and Grandpa Ron Stein, who believed in her enough to get her first box of business cards.
Josie said she would tell others in her situation to: “Don’t rush into something that you want to do. Go into it, think about if for a few months. It will be there, it will always be there, you can always go into it. To the parents, don’t push kids, then they get frustrated, then they don’t want to do it. Then they won’t enjoy it.”
In support of her daughter’s endeavor, Sascha said she and her husband Chad, have looked to the higher values that they have, “We always try to thank God and give God the glory for what he’s done.”
To contact Josie’s Cupcakes, call 330-447-8285.