This creative bakery all started when founder Zoë Lukas developed a serious sweet tooth as a kid. As she grew, Zoë started to realize her passion for baking and dreamt about one day opening up her own shop. “After years of working administrative jobs that were slowly killing my soul, I took a leap and volunteered as an apprentice at a wonderful Philly bakery,” says Zoë. “I began creating and photographing cakes at home and posting them online, which then went viral.”
Once the momentum started to build, the concept for the shop was born. Zoë teamed up with her high school sweetheart and now husband, Brennen, to create Whipped Bakeshop. “We spent hours imagining how it would work and what it would look like,” says Zoë. “We knew people loved the cakes, but there were lots of hurdles to overcome.” Zoë and Brennen turned to family and friends for business expertise and investments.
Eleven years later, their shop stills stands strong, despite the whirlwind of 2020 and other challenges that have come up. Throughout it all, Zoë remains steadfast on their mission to provide beautiful and innovative custom baked goods for their Philly community. “Baking gives us the ability to create things some only dream about,” she says. “It’s the joy of creating a connection and becoming someone's baker for celebrations throughout their life.”
Stateside Urbancraft Vodka
According to brothers Matt and Bryan Quigley, this distillery began with a few simple words: “Let’s start a vodka company.” Without any background or knowledge on how to begin, the guys had to research online how to make vodka. They set up shop in their parent’s basement and tinkered with their recipe before they finally reached success. Five years later, Stateside Urbancraft Vodka is the fastest-growing and #1 craft spirit in Pennsylvania, with distribution in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Washington D.C.
Director of Operations, Ed McGehean, attributes their success to a variety of factors. “First, the product is amazing,” says Ed. “People taste it for the first time and are made fans right away.” Even with their great-tasting vodka, however, Ed says they would be nowhere without their hard-working staff who provide that close-knit bond. Lastly, word-of-mouth has been crucial to their success. “You hit the pavement hard, get the product into the consumers’ hands and you let the public spread the word.”
Since most businesses have been impacted significantly since March, the team at Stateside Urbancraft Vodka had to get creative on how to adjust their business to fit with the changing times. During the first couple of weeks, a small team manually processed orders over the phone and dispatched them to drivers for contactless delivery. After some time, they were able to develop a website to deliver and pick-up online orders.
“We are fortunate to work in a business that many view as ‘fun’,” says Ed. “But at the end of the day, we are still like any other sales and manufacturing operation. With the bond that we all have, it makes it much easier to not only keep grinding, but to be genuinely happy to introduce our vodka to many who may not know it yet.”
Florist Tolani Lightfoot opened up her shop as a way to express her love of mixing self-care, fine art and floristry. Tolani got her start as an artist and graphic designer, where she created wedding invitations depicting intricate botanicals. She found that she loved creating the arrangements as much as she loved illustrating them, so in 2015, she decided that her West Philadelphia neighborhood needed a flower shop.
Bringing in her years of experience in visual arts, Tolani’s floral designs include a mix of symbolism, color theory and other creative areas, such as music, folklore and fashion. Their innovation proved effective, as Snapdragon Flowers won two awards from the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show just as they were starting out.
Even though 2020 has brought on a few challenges, Tolani knows that her team has the skills and the drive to make it through. “The quarantine has been both a blessing and a curse,” she says. “Although we had to close our brick and mortar shop, we found more space to work and store flowers in our home. We were able to take on more orders, while also storing flowers for up to three weddings at a time. So that is lovely.”