Karen Rokitowski's mom was sitting in the back of Get Frosted Cupcakery one Thursday afternoon, as she usually did, because Karen takes care of her aging mom on that day. Karen, the co-founder and owner of Get Frosted Cupcakery, was reflecting on the three years she has run Get Frosted on Beacon's Main Street. She turned to ask her mom a question: "Mom, did you ever think I was going to own a cupcakery?" Her mom simply nodded, and said: "Of course. You always wanted to do it when you were little."
The question is a fair one because prior to opening her first shop on Beacon's Main Street, Karen was a cosmetic chemist for 28 years in the corporate world, having worked for Elizabeth Arden, Avon, Chanel and Burt's Bees. She is directly responsible for the compositions of some beauty products many women use, as she holds three patents for her work: one for an Elizabeth Arden mascara, which uses her alcohol-modified wax to prevent it from drying out quickly and clumping up on lashes, and two patents for toothpaste and shampoo for Burt's Bees.
When Karen left the corporate world, she remembered how she did not know what she was going to do, and let herself be open to what "The Universe had in store" for her. She left North Carolina and returned to New York to reevaluate what she wanted. Karen has always found baking therapeutic: "It's like gardening. Like meditation." She never tires or gets bored of making each little cupcake, cake pop, or white-chocolate baguette.
One night, Karen and her sister were at a party and were analyzing the baked goods situation, and said to each other: "I think we can do better." Together, they looked around Beacon and couldn't find a cupcake to their standards. (Can anyone make a better cupcake than a chemist?) Karen credits her sister for pushing her to open Get Frosted, which they did together, and Karen bought out her sister's share a year later.
Catalyst For The Closure
When Karen opened, she told her accountant that she'd give it three years. Most of her business relied on foot traffic, which ebbed and flowed over time. Large orders for weddings and birthday parties increased, and both the foot traffic and large orders kept Karen in the black, having no debts at the three-year mark. At the beginning of October, her landlord presented her with a new lease. "They did increase my rent more than my business can absorb, especially with the price of eggs and butter rising." She adds, "The heating bill is astronomical here." As she was reflecting on the milestone third-year mark, debating whether to place her next big ingredients order, the decision became clear: "When the new lease came in, they made my decision for me."
"Did You Just Open?"
During our interview, the shop doorbell proudly rang its hopeful ring, and a customer walked in, looking for business donations for a local elementary school. While making her pitch, the fundraiser couldn't keep her eyes off the generously frosted cupcakes in the case, and took a moment to ask about the business, inquiring if Karen had just opened the store because she'd never seen it before - a common question for businesses on Main Street who rely on foot traffic. Karen calmly answered: "I've been here for three years."
Before continuing our interview, I asked Karen: "What's the key to being found on Main Street?" And we just laughed. Why is it so hard to stop into a store and find out what is in there? It's why A Little Beacon Blog has the "Come In!" series, exploring the interior of stores and sharing interviews with business owners, and illustrates why the series is so popular. Karen has two theories: "Main Street is so narrow, that people driving in their cars don't have time to stop and look around. But a lot of the complaints I get include 'I couldn't find a spot out front, so I decided not to stop.'"
Note to self: Walk everywhere. Smell the baking bread and sweets. Head into the shop.
Karen's already had an offer to be a baker for someone in Westchester, but isn't sure yet what direction she wants to take. "I'm going to wait and see what The Universe has in store for me." Could Karen work for someone else? "I don't know. I feel like I've done this, lived my dream. It's something I wanted to do since I was 12; I feel like I want to do something else. I just don't know what that is yet."
We wish Karen THE BEST on her next adventure, and thank her for bringing such sweetness to Beacon. Please open the door to ring that shop bell to give her a hug and buy your last cupcake.
Sponsor Disclaimer: Get Frosted Cupcakery was an advertiser in The Things To Do In Beacon Guides, so we had the pleasure of seeing her every week and getting to know her better when we came in to take photos of her cupcakes for our weekly newsletter and her photo gallery in our Restaurant Guide. This article is not part of her advertising.