Let them drink cake: the rise of Intoxicake NYC’s unique cupcake & liquor empire!


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Intoxicake NYC is one of those businesses that you wish you had thought of yourself. Ashleigh Fitzwilliam has beat many people to the punch to create a unique baked goods business. Intoxicake NYC is cupcake business that Black Enterprise said has liquor infused cupcakes. As some of you know, I subscribe to the magazine and I knew I had to get in touch with Ashleigh Fitzwilliam to learn more about this unique take on the cupcake business. Ashleigh Fitzwilliam is a 23 year old publicist (her company is called Industry Monster) and she is the owner of Intoxicake NYC. Of West Indian heritage, Ashleigh is just the type of black entrepreneur that we love to hear about especially with all the success she is having. Here she talks to Charcoal Ink about her brand and how Intoxicake NYC came to be about:

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Why do you think Intoxicake has got so much attention and traction so quickly in the tough cupcake market?

I think from the very first time I launched Intoxicake on Facebook in September of last year, my network of 5000 + friends were just totally in love with the name, the look and feel of my marketing graphics, and most importantly, the product I was offering. They did most of the word of mouth promo for me , which was totally organic.  Most never heard of cupcakes that are baked to reflect some of the most popular adult beverages. I would say definitely that my expertise as a publicist vastly contributed to catapulting me to this level of success in such a short space of time. The cupcake market is saturated in the United States and it can be quite a challenge to stay buoyant amongst a large sea of people doing the same thing as you. And so the essence of differentiating myself from my competitors in this tough cupcake market, resides in excellent promotions, celebrity branding, customized and intimate engagement with my customers and most importantly, delivering a product that surpasses industry standards.

What was the inspiration behind the name? It’s so catchy and cute!

I was listening to an old Britney Spears song called “Toxic” and just so happened to be experimenting with different cupcake recipes. I knew I wanted to launch an alcoholic cupcake brand but didn’t have a name for it. Then  I thought ah ha, Intoxicake…and I live in NYC so Intoxicake NYC it shall be called! (Giggles)

You mentioned in your Black Enterprise interview that you are of West Indian origin. The islands are known for their rich baking heritage from Barbados to Antigua. Does your heritage inspire your take on cupcakes?

Quite frankly, my island heritage has inspired my creation of Intoxicake NYC, but I cannot say that it has vastly inspired the array of cupcake flavors I offer. This is something that, as a new business owner, I am realizing as a deficit. Mainstream America needs a culinary marriage with island desserts and I’m here to ensure that it happens.  Pretty soon, Intoxicake NYC will have a new look and feel…offering something a bit different from the norm, and ultimately, heavily introducing Caribbean dessert cuisine to the mass American market- flavors, colors, people and more.

The Liquor bakeshop element of your business is really unique. Which specialty alcohol drinks are popular with your customers for the cupcakes?

Long Island Iced Tea, Nuvo Red Velvet Cake, Caramel Appletini and Bailey’s Irish Swirl are extremely popular. We get so many orders for those flavors per week it’s unbelievable.

The Wall Street Journal recently said the gourmet cupcake market is saturated. Do you think there is area for growth in this industry or will it peak soon?

I definitely read that article recently in the Wall Street Journal and I do feel that there is a cupcake craze transpiring in America. It’s been happening since 2004. I think there is still room for growth and expansion as new takes on the traditional cupcake, and the way of consuming cupcakes, are introduced. In terms of “peaking,” that can only be determined by the media. They are the gate-keepers in deciding what’s popular and what’s not so once the Wall Street Journal, Fox Business and other corporate news sources begin to release articles suggesting the demise of cupcake shops, the over-saturation of such olden American-staple confections, and the rise of a “new” dessert concept that the masses “must have or else,” that’s when you’ll see cupcakes taking a back-seat from pop-cultural hype. This doesn’t mean that cupcake businesses won’t be around though or that people won’t have the urge to nab a cute hand-held dessert from time to time. I believe in capitalizing on the “craze” now, milking it for what it’s worth and then re-inventing myself according to market changes. Re-invention is key to staying on the cusp.

How important has marketing Intoxicake as a brand been since you launched the business?

Marketing…I shiver when I hear or say, the word. It has been such an important component of my business. Without it, Intoxicake NYC would still be an idea stuck somewhere within the sinews of my brain.

If you have any advice for anyone who wants to start a baked goods business, what would it be?

Starting a cupcake business requires intense research, strategy and application. Anyone can open a cupcake business, but not many can launch one with considerable staying power in this enigmatic market. Strive for ways to re-invent your brand while still remaining authentic. Diversify your product offerings. Roll out new flavors, colors, themes, etc. Engage with your target public and include them in your re-invention always and in all ways, that are possible. I feel like I am giving away a HUGE secret but do not just offer one product. A particular cupcake shop that shall remain nameless was actually the inspiration of that Wall Street Journal article, for this very reason- failure to diversify products.

My take – Even though I haven’t met Ashleigh in the flesh, I just feel like she has *it*. Intoxicake is such a unique concept – cupcakes & alcohol in a mix that melts into your mouth. This is something that is not unique to just the US – this is the type of business idea that could transcend borders which is why I thought she really deserves all the shine she gets. Bottoms up with cake of course! Learn more about the brand by checking out all of the details below or connect with Intoxicake on Twitter and or check them out on Facebook. Let us know what you think or go on the website to order cupcakes for yourself!

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