While researching reputable wedding cake bakers for the recent blog post, the name Maui Sweet Cakes kept coming up. The owner’s name sounded familiar and a quick web search revealed why. Heidi Cramer ran the popular Cakewalk Bakery in Paia for 8 years, followed by the wholesale bakery, Cake Bakery, and is now specializing in wedding and event cakes and desserts with Maui Sweet Cakes. And not content to bake for humans alone, Heidi’s newest venture is Maui Dog Treats, a line of all-natural snacks for Spot and Fido… and Snoopy. Heidi was nice enough to set down the spatula for a few moments and answer some our burning questions….
Maui Made: How did you get into baking?
Heidi Cramer: I started baking early on. I remember loving my Easy Bake oven! I also came from a family where meals were an event. Both my mother and paternal grandmother were incredible cooks, so, I was at their side from an early age. I love cooking everything, but professionally, love to produce simple, old fashioned goodies, that I remember from my childhood. I try to translate that now into my wedding cakes.
MM: You had the Cakewalk Bakery for 8 years – what was the best part of running a bakery on Maui?
HC: The best thing about running Cakewalk was making our customers happy! For some reason, scratch baking was hard to find, so they loved simple things like muffins, cookies, scones, that were freshly baked from scratch. The aroma in the shop, and seeing the customer’s excitement was very satisfying.
MM: You now specialize in wedding and special event cakes and desserts- the wedding industry seems like a competitive industry on Maui, what does it take to get ahead in this market?
HC: My cakes for Maui Sweet Cakes are based on the same mission as my Cakewalk products: create fresh, all-natural, great tasting sweets. Yes, there is competition within the wedding cake category, but I don’t create something based on what my competitors are, or are not doing. I focus on the product I want to produce, and what will make the client happy for their big day.
MM: What sets your cakes (and company) apart from the rest?
HC: I think what sets Maui Sweet Cakes apart is a wedding cake that doesn’t only look beautiful, but tastes great. Typically, wedding cakes don’t taste great, as many bakers bake and freeze them way ahead of time, which dries them out. Our cakes are baked and filled the day before, then decorated and delivered. It can be a challenge at times, so I prefer to limit the number of events per day, so each order gets my full attention.
MM: Are there any challenges to running a small business on a small island?
HC: I think running a small business is a challenge anywhere, but in Hawaii possibly more difficult. We have limited resources, & qualified labor, in addition to a higher cost of goods and services. Most small business owners start with limited investment, and end up doing most of the jobs for the business. There’s little time or energy left to actually run the business. It’s so important to be passionate about your business, but also try to create a reasonable work/life balance.
MM: Your newest venture is making all-natural dog treats- how has the response been so far with your new clients?
HC: My new venture, Maui Dog Treats is doing great! We officially launched with our first deliveries on May 1, and the response has been incredible! My dog Snoopy is the inspiration, as I feel he deserves to eat as healthfully as I do. Maui Dog Treats are hand-made, all-natural treats for pups. They use only human-grade, local & organic (when possible) ingredients. MDT are made with the same care as my Cakewalk & Maui Sweet Cakes products.
The treats are sold in nicely packaged 8 oz resealable bags, and our new product is the Maui Dog Treat Lei! It’s such a fun gift idea. We’re currently selling to many local Maui retailers, and we just launched our site, (www.dogtreatsmaui.com) for mail order. We’ve had visitors buy them at local accounts, then once home, ordered more via mail order.
MM: What’s next for Heidi?
HC: I’ll be off to Oahu in August for the Made In Hawaii Festival for Maui Dog Treats! I was accepted by Maui County to be a part of their program with Innovate Hawaii, which is subsidizing part of the cost. Excited for the huge exposure that Made In Hawaii offers.
MM: Thanks for allowing us to pick your brain, and best of luck at the Made in Hawaii Festival!