BELOW: Beth (left) and Kate Hendrix of Sweet Katie Bee’s Cupcake & Coffee Bar in O’Fallon, Ill.
From Illinois Business Journal news services
O’Fallon, Ill., residents Kate Hendrix and her daughter, Beth Hendrix, are enjoying the third year of their home-grown, home-baked business, Sweet Katie Bee’s Cupcake & Coffee Bar.
The idea to open a cupcake business was borne from the Hendrix women’s longtime love of baking and coffee brewing, according to Kate.
“Our idea for the bakery/café also came from a wish to share our “Slow Food” commitment with the community,” she said.
The international Slow Food movement began in 1986 as an alternative to “fast food’ with a focus on high quality, locally sourced, traditional food items. It is represented by more than 100,000 members in 150 countries.
It was also a personal challenge for Beth Hendrix to find recipes for gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free desserts for her young son as he struggled with multiple food allergies.
“We had to learn how to create recipes that my son and others like him would be able to eat safely and enjoy,” Kate said. “Some day, we hope to operate a completely gluten-free or vegan bakery.”
All of these lifelong bakers’ creations are made from scratch including Sweet Katie Bee’s best-selling Beth’s Chocolate – a rich chocolate cake made with buttermilk, filled with whipped cream and topped with chocolate butter cream frosting. The double chocolate cupcake is just one of 40 different bakery items in Kate’s rotation which runs the gamut from the unusual – a maple bacon cupcake – to the traditional – a carrot cake cupcake based upon her aunt’s old family recipe. The bakery/café also serves lunch Tuesday through Saturday.
According to Kate, the “icing on the cake” of this three-year entrepreneurial journey was the layers of customized business expertise received at no charge from the Metro East Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
Jo Ann May, Metro East SBDC small business specialist, has been working with Sweet Katie Bee’s since shortly after the business opened its doors in downtown O’Fallon. The SBDC provided expertise on website development, bookkeeping and options to potentially lower the business’ labor costs.
Through connections made by the SBDC, Sweet Katie Bee’s was able to participate as the focus of a Southern Illinois University Edwardsville marketing and social media student’s class project, again at no cost to the business owners.
“Kate is a wonderful person and extremely dedicated entrepreneur,” said May. “I really enjoyed working alongside her to offer practical ideas, business expertise and the right connections. Our doors are always open to Kate and other Metro East startup owners like her seeking to achieve commerce success.”
Sweet Katie Bee’s owners are extremely proud of their staff. “Our seven staff members are our best ambassadors,” Kate Hendrix said. “We’re grateful to them, to our regular customers and to the SBDC. Jo Ann (May) was extremely helpful in developing and refining our financial projections.”
Sweet Katie Bee’s Cupcake & Coffee Bar is located at 212 E. State St. in O’Fallon. It’s open Tuesday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, see sweetkatiebees.com.
The Illinois Metro East SBDC assists start-up ventures like Hendrix’s as well as existing businesses headquartered in the nine-county region of Calhoun, Jersey, Madison, Bond, Clinton, St. Clair, Washington, Monroe and Randolph. It is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and SIUE as a service to Illinois small businesses.
Contact the Metro East SBDC at (618) 650-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.