Small Business of the Month: Cubes Baking Co.

Kevin Moulder at the front counter of his bakery in Wallingford. The shop’s mural was painted by his older brother.

“If you would’ve told me five years ago that I would have a bakery in the city of Seattle, I would’ve called you crazy,” says Kevin Moulder, founder of Cubes Baking Co. in Wallingford.

Cubes is a unique bakery, and the company came about in an unusual way. “The idea came when I purchased a new car about five years ago,” explains Moulder. Purchasing a Nissan Cube and looking for ways to finance his new ride, he had the idea to bake and deliver cube-shaped cakes in his cube-shaped car. “The Cube, which are cube-shaped cakes available in six different flavors, was born,” Moulder says of his company’s signature item.

Cubes Baking Co. began as an appointment-only custom cake bakery; during his first year, Moulder filled orders by working out of a commercial kitchen space at his place of employment that his employer allowed him to use, where he was the in-house baker. During his second year, he operated out of a shared commercial kitchen. The process of expanding into a brick-and-mortar location was “overwhelming and exciting at the same time,” says Moulder.

His years of experience in the baking industry helped him find creative ways to finance his expansion. By setting up at wedding conventions and selling lots of affordably-priced, simple wedding cakes, Moulder was able to save enough to afford the up-front costs of opening a new store.

Navigating requirements and building out the new shop was a long process. “There was a lot of permitting we needed through the City, and it was difficult to find a contractor who was willing to work with us, based on the condition of our unit and the work that needed to be done,” he recalls.

Moulder explains the caterpillar cake design he’s working on to OED staff.

There were days when Moulder thought they would never open, but he persisted and sought help where he could: “I took advantage of the free coaching available and visited the downtown [Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections office] about five times.”

At last the new Cubes location opened, a little over a year after they signed the lease at the Wallingford location. “We were lucky we had the ability to continue accepting and baking custom celebration and wedding cakes from a commercial kitchen while the build-out was occurring, still allowing us to bring in income,” explains Moulder.

Today, Cubes Baking Co. continues to sell custom cakes while also acting as a unique gathering space and resource for the neighborhood. “Our bakery serves as an alternative baking company that provides an underrepresented style of food in this city,” Moulder says of his modern twist on Mexican baking.

Inspired by his grandmother and the panaderías of his childhood in San Antionio, Cubes’ conchas, scones, cupcakes, and other pastries are cube-shaped and served in traditional style: grab a pair of tongs and fill up a tray. Moulder’s favorite is the tres leches cake, which comes in six flavors.

“I hope that we serve as inspiration for other creative thinking Mexican-Americans, giving them an establishment to be proud of and showing that hard work really does pay off,” says Moulder. Cubes sometimes partners with fellow small food businesses, giving others a chance to sell their food in a neighborhood they may not otherwise have access to. Moulder plans to set up a small area in his bakery where local artists and crafters can sell items as well.

Cubes also partners with El Centro de la Raza by donating day-old goods, reducing food waste. “El Centro De La Raza does such great work in this city to ensure that everyone, regardless of race, have their voices heard and have opportunities to be successful. El Centro provides the resources and we wanted to help any way we could,” Moulder says. “I have the goal of continuing to make connections with other Latinx/LGBTQ businesses and non-profit organizations that serve the Hispanic community, so we can continue to lift each other up and provide representation.”

Growing from a one-man operation running out of a shared kitchen to a full store location hasn’t been easy, but Cubes continues to carve out its niche in its neighborhood and in the Seattle community.

“I would say that someone looking to open their own business should be willing to work a minimum of 16 hours a day and realize that it’s very, very hard work,” Moulder says. “The payoff is well worth it, but it can take years of working hard to see a reward.”

Those interested in opening or expanding a business don’t need to do it alone—the Office of Economic Development has free resources, information, and coaching available. Entrepreneurs can check out our Restaurant Success page, our Business Decision Engine, or reach out to us at oed@seattle.gov with questions.

You can find Cubes Baking Co. (and their incredible RuPaul’s Drag Cakes) on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and on the main 45th Street drag in Wallingford.

Office of Economic Development Puts Big Data in the Hands of Small Business

Tracking down valuable information about the local economy, customers, competition and more just got easier for businesses in Seattle. Today the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, in partnership with LocalIntel launched the Business Decision Engine (Beta).

The interactive tool displays essential market intelligence for entrepreneurs and existing businesses and helps them ask the right questions, analyze the data correctly and make better business decisions. The site is primarily intended for small to medium sized businesses who previously did not have the resources or experience to do their own market and location research, though businesses of all sizes and types will find it useful. Entrepreneurs can now discover their industries’ primary customers, learn how to research their competition, identify key transportation and environmental considerations, uncover future business opportunities and more.

“Data is only useful if it is easily accessible,” Brian Surratt, Director of the Office of Economic Development said. “That’s why I’m so excited about the Business Decision Engine. Through a beautiful and engaging interface, entrepreneurs will have access to volumes of City and partner agency data that together can help business owners make choices about where and how they do business in Seattle.”

“Before the Business Decision Engine, people had to search several agencies, and even if they found the right data, they may not have had the context to make it useful. Now, all the most important information is in one place and easily digestible for anyone,” Brian Surratt Director of the Office of Economic Development continued.

“Seattle is now a world leader in using open data to support local business growth,” Localintel CEO Dave Parsell said. “By combining the vast amounts of information held in the City’s Open Data Platform with our own data, we’ve created a valuable resource for Seattle’s business community.”

Seattle is the first city in the United States to offer LocalIntel’s product to businesses.

The Office of Economic Development and LocalIntel will update the Busines Decision Engine quarterly with refreshed data and additional resources. The City invites the community to provide feedback about additional data they would find helpful as they explore the City for opportunities.

The release of the Business Decision Engine (Beta) is one step in an ongoing body of work at the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development to make data more accessible. For additional data visit http://www.seattle.gov/economicdevelopment/data


Want to see it in action?

 

Join us for an online demo and discussion on April 6 at 9 a.m. (PST). We’ll do a quick demo, and you can ask questions and tell us how we can make the Business Decision Engine even more useful to your business or those that you serve.

 

RSVP

 

Video and audio: Join Skype Meeting

Audio only: 844-386-1200 or 206-386-1200

Conference ID: 7492673

 

The Seattle Public Library Will Help You Develop a Plan to Launch Your Small Business

 

Having a plan is imperative to building a successful small business. Because of this, the Seattle Public Library is offering free business planning seminars during the following times.

January appointments are available at the South Park Branch, 8604 Eighth Ave. S., 206-615-1688, for the following times and dates:

  • 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays, Jan. 4 and 18
  • Noon to 3 p.m. Wednesdays, Jan. 11 and 25

February appointments are available at the Delridge Branch, 5423 Delridge Way S.W., 206-733-9125, for the following times and dates:

  • 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays, Feb. 7 and 21
  • Noon to 3 p.m. Tuesdays, Feb. 14 and 28

Seattle entrepreneurs can make an appointment with a librarian trained in business reference and market research. Per a Seattle Public Library Press Release

“Librarians will work with entrepreneurs at all stages of business development to find information and data for planning a business or operating a current business. The Library has print and digital resources which can help with many kinds of business questions, including finding industry information, writing a business plan, sizing a market and identifying customers”.

Those interested can make an appointment on the Seattle Public Library website. For more information, call the Seattle Public Library at 206-386-4636 or Ask a Librarian.

Mobile Small Business Consulting Heading to Seattle Neighborhoods

The Office of Economic Development (OED) will host mobile small business consulting sessions throughout Seattle. We will bring our technical assistance partners to different neighborhoods for 1-on-1 business consulting.

The pilot program launched May 24th in the Central Area with 10 small businesses on 23rd Avenue as an effort to continue our collaboration with businesses negatively impacted by construction. Events were held on May, 24  May 25 at Black Dot @ Union. The businesses that signed up received consulting by Ventures in collaboration with the Central Area Collaborative and Seattle University. Yonas Seifu and Mikel Davila from OED worked with the businesses ahead of their mobile small business consulting appointments to ensure they were able to get the most out of their time with the experts. Experts are able to assist with a number of issues, depending on the individual needs of the small business. They can offer marketing recommendations, merchandising suggestions, help with navigating government and permitting and help connect businesses to low interest financing, and more

Staff is working with our partners in various neighborhoods to identify businesses that would benefit from these services.

OED will host small business consulting in the following neighborhoods:

June: South Park

July: Lake City; Hillman City

August: Little Saigon; West Seattle

September: U District; N Seattle Chamber

October: New Holly

November: Ballard; Capitol Hill

December: Beacon Hill