Thursday, April 5, 2012

Charm City Cakes - All Grown Up!

Stephanie and Mary Alice surrounded by a few cakes
from the bakery's "Summer Collection"

Post cameras and a reality TV whirlwind, Baltimore's own Charm City Cakes has a brand new website in the works (so exciting!), a fresh coat of the most gorgeous pale blue paint (covering the walls of their Remington Avenue location), and a decidedly more sophisticated take on cakes for 2012.  We had the pleasure of sitting down with Mary Alice Yeskey (the companies marketing director) last week to discuss the direction of the business, as well as their recently unveiled "Summer Collection."  Check out our one-on-one interview and peek at a few of our favorite cakes from their beautiful new line. Brides especially, you are in for a
delicious treat!

SB:  Who do you think your target market is today?
Mary Alice:  I would say we are targeting brides, but I'm not dismissing anything else.  A lot of people were saying to us, "We didn't realize you guys were still doing cakes in Baltimore..." so Facebook, Twitter, all that stuff happened in the last two years.  During the show (Ace of Cakes) all of that stuff kind of got pushed to the side.

SB:  How does it work when a client calls in?
Mary Alice:  The nice thing is for the first time when you call you get a human being.  I think that's a basic thing that not every company knows is so important.  We then do a meeting here on a Tuesday or Wednesday.  This is because our chef bakes samples on Mondays and Tuesdays, so it helps our natural kitchen flow.  At our staff meetings on Monday mornings, we decide who's appropriate to meet with each person.  There is a $50 tasting fee which will go towards your cake if you choose to work with us.  This mostly helps us weed out no-shows.  The decorators and myself spend a good deal of time prepping and printing out inspiration photos so when we sit down you know we've been thinking of you.  It's so nice when the client can feel you really want to be there.  That way when they come in the client is excited!

SB:  We love the new paint color in the bakery... Tell us about the change.
Mary Alice:  It used to be green and blue, which it actually wound up being again, but it's so much softer now.  The old colors made the show look awesome, but we've been done with that for a year and a half.

SB:  Many of your decorators don't have baking backgrounds.  How does this affect the process?
Mary Alice:  I think the big difference with us is that our decorators aren't trained pastry chefs, they're trained artists.  I think this means they take the skills they already have and just apply them to a different medium.  For example Mary Smith is incredible at line work, so you take that and translate it into the frosting.  Obviously structure is also very important.

SB:  What do you think are some upcoming trends in wedding cakes?
Mary Alice:  In terms of color palettes, corals and grays are big and gold is coming way back for the first time in awhile.  In terms of overall design, people are really moving towards cake as a canvas and using it as a way to extend the overall theme of the event.  People also want something much more pared down, clean and simple.  Big for the sake of big is totally out.  Most people don't live that way and they want their cakes to reflect that.

SB:  What's next for Charm City Cakes?
Mary Alice:  Our designs are growing up, our style is growing up, yes we can still do Star Wars cakes, but we want people to know that we can be trendsetting.  I don't want to go looking for cake designs anymore, I want people to be looking to us.  We should be making the fashion.

SB:  You're very loyal to Baltimore, what do you think makes it such a great place to create?
Mary Alice:  I think we're all incredibly loyal to our city because it doesn't take itself too seriously.  For me personally, it's a manageable sized city.  You go out to get groceries and you're pretty much guaranteed to see someone you know.  You can really nurture relationships here over time.  We're all kind of moving and growing together, especially in the events industry...We all have each others back.

This stunner, created by designer Mary Smith, took inspiration from a cake she previously created for the
Baltimore Bride Magazine Spring/Summer 2012 photo shoot earlier this year.
Peek here and here for more on our creative collaboration!

SB:  What is Duff's role now that you have a Charm City Cakes West location in L.A.?
Mary Alice:  His job is sort of to be the face of the company and he's got so many products.  He just kind of runs around like crazy.

SB:  With the success of Charm City Cakes West, do you have any plans for future expansions?
Mary Alice:  With Duff I've learned to just never say never!

And there you have it!  A BIG thank you to Mary Alice for taking the time to chat with me (and our intern Katie from Loyola College), Duff Goldman and the entire team at Charm City Cakes for hosting such an amazing preview party last week.  We love the new line, the refreshed bakery workspace, and are already looking forward to what comes next...

Cheers your continued success here in Baltimore and beyond!
xSB and Team


  1. The new line of cakes is beautiful. So is that necklace, hint hint.

  2. Charm City Cakes West is going to be a hit! I can't wait to see how Duff blends east coast flavor with west coast style.

  3. I didn't even know there was an LA location, good to see a Baltimore company succeeding across the country!

  4. Great blog post! Love seeing the upcoming trends for cakes!