|Betsy Thorleifson with her daughter in the Nine Cakes studio|
The Nine Cakes studio is tucked away on Columbia Street in Brooklyn not too far from Smith Street with its trendy cafes and boutiques and just across the water from downtown Manhattan. Betsy is in good company with so many other young food businesses in the neighbourhood “There’s a little coffee shop that I love called Cafe Pedlar and a really yummy foodie shop called Stinky Brooklyn filled with all sorts of cheeses”.
|The shop front in Brooklyn|
|Betsy's team create beautiful hand made sugar decorations|
|Sketched designs waiting to be made up|
The inspiration for naming her business came from the cakes themselves. “When I first started, I came up with a list of my favourite cakes. I was sitting around with a group of friends and we were trying to figure out some name ideas. Someone said, ‘well, how many cakes do you have?’” There is also link to Betsy’s fondness for numbers (her dad was a maths teacher). “I came across this book of logic puzzles for kids. Lewis Carroll’s Alice character is tasked with arranging nine cakes in a specific order so I thought, yeah, it’s going to be Nine Cakes!”
|Vintage scales in the cake studio|
On starting a cake business Betsy says “just jump right in”. Thinking back to her first year she says “It felt like raising a kid in a way. It takes a lot of your attention and as it gets older each year there’s a real difference. By the second year I realised it was better to offer a range of signature flavours for each season. By the third year it felt more like a working machine. I wish I would have known to hire people sooner – there were times where I literally worked around the clock.”
On delegating she says that it’s best to prioritise. “Find what you want to do and make that happen instead of thinking that you’re going to do everything - in that first year I quickly realised that I have a business, I’m not just a baker anymore.”
It’s too difficult to choose just one of Betsy’s cake flavours so I head back to our friend’s Manhattan apartment via a Smith Street coffee with two single tier six inch cakes from her fall menu – one Pumpkin Walnut and one Chocolate Caramel Cloud.
155 Columbia Street Brooklyn 11231
|Pumpkin walnut cake|
|Ghost pumpkin display in the shop front|
|Simple paper decoration in the shop front display|