NORTH AUGUSTA – When it comes to the Mema cupcake at SmallCakes: A Cupcakery of North Augusta, it’s all in the name.
“Mema inspired the flavor of the banana pudding cupcake. It is based on her banana pudding recipe,” said Karli Stone, owner of the cupcakery at 1069 Edgefield Road #107.
Mema is a large cupcake with a buttercream-esque frosting that is more like the pudding part of a banana pudding, vanilla wafer crumbles on top, and half a cookie for garnish. It has a soft banana-tasting interior that melts in one’s mouth.
“Mema’s banana pudding muffin is hands down one of the best. It is one of my personal favorites,” she said.
But it wasn’t Mema who inspired her love of baking. Stone said she came to love baking on her own as a young child. Baking became Stone’s passion, and she was a home baker for many years.
She has owned the SmallCakes cupcake store for four years and attributes it to her faith.
“My faith is the only reason I have this business. God provided the resources for me,” Stone said.
Her cupcakery store is decorated with placards with Bible verses on them and has verses printed on boxes to share her faith.
“I went through a lot of challenging aspects to get this business. When it looked like I was not going to get this business, God sent me a lender,” said Stone, who has a professional background and a master’s degree in business administration with an emphasis on non-profits. Before her bakery, she worked in administration at Augusta University. She welcomed the change of owning her own business and working for herself.
“It has been profitable for me. More so than anything, it gives me a purpose. I love doing this. There is nothing I would rather do,” she said.
While Smallcakes is part of a franchise, Stone said she can make her own cupcake creations.
“It is a franchise, but we are all independently owned,” she said.
“My bestsellers are birthday cake, red velvet, wedding cake and cookies and cream,” she said. They all are decorated elegantly and quite large.
The types of cupcakes she has available vary from day to day. Recent specials, according to her Facebook page, included a unicorn, cannoli, cotton candy and key lime cheesecake varieties. Stone, according to her social media, has even made special cupcakes for pop culture events such as Season Five of “The Last Kingdom” being out and others in memory of individuals who have passed away.
On a recent Thursday, Stone had a wedding cake cupcake, a cannoli cupcake and birthday cake cupcake in addition to Mema’s cupcake and others.
Stone said she averages making 19 to 25 fresh varieties of cupcakes each day. She also sells Bluebell Ice Cream plus beverages, which may seem fairly ordinary at first, but Stone and her seven employees do something fairly unique with the ice cream.
“This is the home of the cupcake smash,” Stone said.
The cupcake smash is reminiscent of birthday parties from the past where ice cream was often served with cake but, in this case, with a cupcake twist.
“You cut the cupcake in half and put the ice cream in the middle,” Stone said.
She said her bestselling ice cream is red velvet ice cream. Sometimes people have it in a cupcake smash with a red velvet cupcake. It makes a decadent red dessert that would be perfect for Valentine’s Day, birthdays, or just personal celebrations.
Stone can do orders of cupcakes for birthdays and other types of events.
“We can accommodate any size order from one to thousands. We can do large orders for birthday parties, other events, and weddings,” she said.
Stone’s business has not suffered much the past couple of years, and things have been looking good for her post-COVID.
“As we are returning to normal, things have been really great. We were allowed to stay open during COVID because we serve food. Pre-COVID, we had a dining area. After COVID, we stopped that so we could remain open,” Stone said.
Stone said they became take-out and delivery-only and did curb-side during the height of the pandemic.
She does have a little outdoor seating in front of the “cupcakery,” but mostly has people come in for to-go/take-out.
Stone also sells baked dog treats within the store and lives with a fur-child, a female Rottweiler named Khaleesi, in North Augusta. According to her Facebook page, Stone has had some days in the store dedicated to “pup-cakes”, the dog-friendly treats she sells there. She has also shown photographs of Khaleesi on the page and seems, from a recent visit, to have baked dog treats in the store quite often.
Karli Stone has also been with the North Augusta Chamber of Commerce for a few years and recently decorated one of the Chamber tables for their annual awards ceremony and banquet.
“It was a great benefit to be a part of the Chamber event,” Stone said.
Stone said, “It was a fun experience to set up a table and show off my treats.”
Stone said networking is a huge benefit of being with the Chamber and that they have sent her quite a few customers.
She has occasionally gone to different festivals with a vendor table but finds it more profitable to be at her brick-and-mortar location.
“Having the Wal-mart here as an anchor store in this shopping center helps. It provides a lot of foot traffic,” Stone said.
According to the Facebook page, SmallCakes: A Cupcakery is open Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturday from 10:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. It’s closed Sundays.