Gabriella Bonocore and Susan Buchenberger, the duo behind Cupcake of Little Silver, have found that mixing talents from careers they had before staying home with kids has allowed them to nurture a business that has grown up along with their children.
When they first started baking cupcakes together five years ago, with four young children between them and Buchenberger expecting her third, they quickly took on tasks that matched their skills.
"Sue is definitely back-of-the-house," says Bonocore, using lingo leftover from her days working in Manhattan as a manager for the Union Square Hospitality Group to describe her partner's talents in the kitchen.
Buchenberger combines her love of baking with her skills as a graphic designer to do much of the baking and hand drawn decorations that personalize their confections, like intricate monograms for a wedding or the popular Angry Birds for an eight-year-old birthday party.
Bonocore, who has lived in Little Silver for eight years and has two children, keeps her focus on taking orders and working with customers to come up with the right design for an event. The two come together, working often late into the night in a local commercial kitchen, for the frosting and applying the hand drawn decorations.
Bonocore laughs and says her partner has helped temper her urge to quickly expand and open a storefront for the business. "We have that balance," she says.
Instead, they have slowly grown their business through word of mouth, which eventually lead to a standing presence at Sickles Market where their treats are one of a number of cupcakes offered in the bakery. "It's incredibly flattering," says Bonocore.
The pair's goal is to keep the business part of their lives in check with raising their children. "I love being a mom, but this has been a creative and rewarding outlet," says Buchenberger, who has lived in Little Silver for five years and has three boys under 10. "I'm excited to have something away from my family that's just mine."
"We're not doing this just because it's fun," Bonocore adds. "Yes, it's fun because of who I work with, but it's also financially rewarding."
The two are still working on what direction to move the business, whether it's purchasing their own kitchen, selling cupcakes out of a food truck or hanging a shingle outside a storefront in town.
Buchenberger says she can see the appeal of having a small shop. "My oldest said to me recently, 'Mom, when we're teenagers we can work in the store with you.'"
"That's the beauty of it," says Bonocore. "Things can grow as our children grow."