Eat your art out: Teresa Ging’s eye-catching cupcakes have resilience baked in
When Teresa Ging was passed over for a promotion, she decided to leave a career in corporate finance. Her next move was unexpected: she enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu and set off for Paris. There she fell in love with French patisseries and found joy working with her hands making pastries.
As a child, Teresa could be found drawing and painting; today, her blue-ribbon kindergarten artwork hangs on her home office wall. Still, it was surprising to her that her creative passions emerged in the form of cupcakes.
“I’m not a baker by trade. My first attempt at making red velvet cupcakes was a flop,” Teresa said. “Every baker will cringe when they hear that I used olive oil in place of vegetable oil – I didn’t know the difference.”
After pastry school, Teresa returned to Chicago and began experimenting with flavor and frosting combinations, recruiting tasters for her cupcake recipes at her local gym and then catering local events. She quickly developed a following – including the Women’s Business Development Center team, who worked with her to create a business plan and secure financing.
In 2009, Teresa opened the doors of Sugar Bliss in downtown Chicago. She was excited to open in the city’s business centre – but it was also the height of the greatest financial recession since the Great Depression. The resilience borne from that experience serves her well to this day.
“I had so many challenges with access to capital. I couldn’t just go to bank and say, ‘I want $200,000 to open a business,’ so I applied for a loan at three banks, one of whom denied my application for reasons I considered to be discriminatory. Another, I learned, celebrated because it was one of the few loans that got approved under more stringent guidelines.”
– Teresa Ging
Owner, Sugar Bliss
Teresa worked hard to self-fund future growth plans. Now, with 16 years in business, she’s evolved her baked-from-scratch offerings to include cake pops, macarons, brownies, cookies and morning pastries, and she is expanding into retailers. Her pre-packaged cookies also fulfill a social mission, with a portion of sales going toward women and minority entrepreneurs like her.
To realize her vision of becoming a nationwide brand, Teresa applied to the BMO Celebrating Women grant program, designed to help women business owners access capital to support high-level growth plans. The $10,000 grant will help her boost website functionality and grow brand awareness via digital marketing.
“I’m on a mission to create a blissfully better world for all,” Teresa said. “I’m lucky to have many supportive partners along for the ride.”