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Episode 5: Crème Cupcake Founder on Successfully Baking a 'Dumb' Idea

DSM Podcast Episode 5: Crème Cupcake + Dessert

May 15, 2018

The premise for Greater Des Moines (DSM) staple, Crème Cupcake + Dessert, started with a date night and “the dumbest idea” the founder’s bank had heard of.

Creating an innovative solution

Christina Moffatt was faced with a problem. At the end of a date night, she would seek out places to go for dessert and a drink. Restaurants didn’t offer the right ambiance. Coffee shops weren’t right either. Her solution was to marry the two matching cocktails with a rotating array of delicious desserts in a lounge that keeps its doors open until Midnight. Since it launched in 2011, it has become a DSM favorite and has been a signifier of the resurgence in Downtown DSM and on Ingersoll Avenue, where it’s located.

Funding a ‘dumb’ idea

What started out as a five-plus-year plan to create a dessert lounge took just weeks to start moving forward. One of her first customers was an order for 1,000 cupcakes. After finding a kitchen to assist in delivering on an increasing number of cupcake orders, Moffatt was approached three weeks later about a new space on Ingersoll Avenue. Seeing an opportunity to realize her dessert lounge concept, she sought to secure financing. That’s when her new concept faced its biggest hurdle. 

“Talk about people shutting you down or not believing in your idea. I was told that a dessert lounge, which is a bakery and a bar, was the dumbest thing they had heard of,” Moffatt told Startup Stories DSM host Mike Colwell. “I was turned down seven times by banks.”

Moffatt eventually secured financing through a person she went to grade school with. That person had experienced a similar concept and thought it would be a great addition for DSM.

“I tell people a lot, you have to be nice to people because you never know, even back to elementary school, who is holding the money,” Moffatt said.

Business plan

Three months later, Moffatt was able to open the space. Three weeks after that, she learned she was three months pregnant.

“That was not ever in the business plan,” Moffatt joked.  

A management team was put in place, which has allowed Moffat to work on her business, not necessarily in her business. Her work also extends to assisting other entrepreneurs develop their businesses through the Greater Des Moines Partnership as Director of Small Business Resources.

Six years on, Moffatt’s two babies are both thriving. Her son turns five, Crème employs 14-16 people and Moffatt has been able to help hundreds of other small business owners across the region.

Hear the stories of other small business and startup business owners in the community in The Partnership’s Small Business Resources Hub or sign up for the Small Business Resources newsletter to stay connected for information about upcoming events, other resources and the latest announcements in the small business community in DSM.

Startup Stories DSM

Startup Stories DSM is a podcast featuring conversations with entrepreneurs who share both their victories and failures on their paths to success. It is produced by the Greater Des Moines Partnership.