After years of disillusionment, everything is now clear for Clifton's Kristina Baranowski. The 24-year-old left her accounting job last Friday and now there's no looking back. The lease is signed, the renovations have begun and next month she opens "Cupcaked" at 12644 Chapel Road in Clifton.
"They're the best cupcakes you're ever going to eat. I wouldn't open the shop if I didn't think so," said Baranowski to Patch. "I want people to be addicted to them."
Baranowski, a graduate of Robinson Secondary School, moved to Clifton with her parents and two brothers in 1999. She studied economics at New York University.
"I originally was going to take the corporate world by storm," Baranowski said. "But if you want to get ahead in economics you need to get a Ph.D or be a professor."
Baranowski moved to Reston after graduating. She took a job in revenue accounting at a local media marketing firm and slowly felt drained of her creative spirit. Luckily, she was raised in a family of cooks. Her father, Mike, is an experimental chef, and her mother, Lorie, is a baker.
"I just started baking cupcakes. And then I started pawning them off to people, mostly friends and friends of friends," she said.
It wasn't long before Baranowski was deluged with orders and got her business license. "The demand was beyond anything I expected could come from this. I'm getting phone calls all the time from people I don't know now," she said. "And I've been cooking them all from the top rack of my oven in my apartment. Right now I'm prepping 132 cupcakes for someone I don't know."
Most of Baranowski's business came from Facebook. "Seriously, Facebook is my best friend," she said. "Thanks, Mark Zuckerberg."
"Cupcaked" will open in April. After renovation, the shop will have a front counter, purple walls, wireless internet and tables and chairs. Cupcakes, coffee and tea will be served.
"I want an atmosphere where people can hang out," said Baranowski. "I really want the space to be an extension of me. I'm going to be here all the time."
Baranowski has 50 custom-made cupcakes. "Each flavor probably went through a cycle of three-to-four tests until I bit into it and knew that I'd pay for it," she said.
There is a $10 charge for cupcake deliveries (with no mileage restrictions) and there needs to be a minimum order of six cupcakes.
One thing's for sure: life will be different for Baranowski. "I hear from people I went to high school with and they tell me what an inspiration I am to them and how I'm able to do what I want to do. I don't feel like it's like that," she said. "I just got tired of my job and decided to do something else."
Kristina Baranowski's Top Five Cupcakes
- Chocolate salted caramel
- Strawberry lemon
- Raspberry chocolate
- Chocolate peanut butter
- Pineapple banana spilt