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Meet Sara Nicholson of PHX Dessert Bar in North Phoenix

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sara Nicholson.

Sara, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I always wanted to own a cupcake shop since I was 16. I started teaching myself to bake using recipes from online to cookbooks I got from the library. I tried my hand at large cakes and even took a cake decorating class at Hobby Lobby. I always loved cupcakes though. This was at the beginning of the cupcake hype, and I knew that I wanted in on it. I wanted to go to culinary school and open my own shop as soon as I graduated. Instead, I went to a liberal arts college and got my teaching degree. Now, 6 years after graduating from college, having taught in 3 different schools, I finally moved forward with my dream of having my own shop. Except… My shop is my home kitchen. My husband was 100% supportive of us opening up a dessert bar (cupcakes are great, but I didn’t want to be pigeonholed), but we quickly realized that we had no equity in being able to open up a storefront. What we decided to do was work under Arizona cottage law and sell at local craft shows and markets. We’re still playing with the idea of opening up a storefront, but there are a lot of unknowns. We don’t know if we’ll be staying in Phoenix. We don’t know if we’ll be starting a family soon. We don’t know if I’ll be going back to school. A lot is up in the air right now, but I do enjoy being able to bake from my home and sell at local markets, such as the Sixth Street Market in Tempe. Right now we’re only there due to having demanding day jobs, but we’re hoping to build clientele there and maybe even sell at other markets.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
So far everything has been pretty smooth. Having chosen to go through the path of least resistance, such as not opening up a storefront right away and focusing on just one market at a time, it’s been pretty straightforward.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the PHX Dessert Bar story. Tell us more about the business.
We don’t necessarily specialize in anything, depending on how you look at it. Like stated before, I initially wanted to do cupcakes. Man, did we try to sell our cupcakes! People who know us personally will order cupcakes from us, but at the market, no one will buy them! We sell out of cookies and bars (brownies, pie bars, cookie bars), but not a single cupcake or cake pop. Weird, right? The thing that I am most proud of as a company is ensuring quality in our product. If I don’t love it, I don’t sell it. If I don’t believe that the ingredients used are the best that I can get, I won’t use it. What sets us apart from others is that we’re very small, so we can do a variety of custom orders.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
My good luck has been marrying someone who believes in me and my product and also knows sales.

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