The Sweet Success of a Jewish Baker and Businesswoman
Chocolate Snowball. Toasted Coconut. Blackout. Raspberry Swirl. Peanut Butter Cup. White Hot Chocolate. Baba Booey. It’s hard to choose just one!
These are some of the offerings at Crumbs, a wildly successful chain of kosher cupcake stores founded by Mia Bauer. Israeli-born Bauer graduated from Brandeis in 1991 and went to work as a lawyer for the City of New York. In 2003, she left the law and followed her passion to the kitchen.
I got to know this entrepreneurial Jewess a bit better through a podcast interview with NPR’s special series From Scratch.
Bauer lived in Israel until age seven. She has vivid memories of her mother, whom she calls a “fabulous baker,” whipping up American style treats in their kibbutz kitchen. She recalls baking regularly at home and her first job was in a bakery. It only became a professional interest when she decided to stop working as an attorney and explore a second career. Before Bauer made the jump from law to cupcakes, she considered several business options, including a hair salon for kids. Her baking hobby won out and, after a bit of brainstorming, she took a chance and self-financed her first store.
Mia, along with her husband Jason, opened the first Crumbs on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in 2003, the year they got married. In 2012, the Bauers sold the company, which now boasts over 58 locations nationwide, including 36 locations in the New York City area, to return to their entrepreneurial roots and start another new business.
During her years at Crumbs, Mia Bauer sought to have each of her over-sized, gourmet cupcakes create a wondrous, kid-like experience for consumers of all ages. Bauer originally strived to give her store a neighborhood feel, where she knew customer’s names and regular orders. Though Bauer says she was content with her one store on the Upper West Side, she felt comfortable expanding, as long as there are no compromises on quality and client experience.
Being a kosher chain was part of that experience, Bauer told the Jewish Week in 2011. “When I know someone’s kosher, it’s exciting for me to tell them. It’s not just that we offer kosher food, it’s what it means for me … We feel that we want to be kosher and adhere to those ideals and principles.” Jewish values, she said, “are so important to us and it’s so part of the fabric of who we are in every way that that becomes part of the culture of the company.”
In an online interview, Mia said she was taught to believe that nothing is impossible. She says that “starting a new business is like having a child, and it will bring about every challenge imaginable.” She advises that to be successful, one must hire great colleagues. Mia’s trusting and confident relationship with Crumbs employees allows her to overcome what she says is the hardest challenge: balancing work and family time.
Whether she was dreaming up a new cupcake, making a business plan, or carving out time for her two kids, Mia Bauer serves as an inspiration to women who wish to turn their dreams into reality. As Mia shows, you can have your cupcake and eat it, too.