Hellenic News of America Interviews Sophie & Katherine of Georgetown Cupcake
September 27th, 2012
By Aphrodite Kotrotsios, Hellenic News of America
The lovely sisters in pink are releasing their second book, Sweet Celebrations, on October 9, 2012. Fans can look forward to all sorts of recipes from cupcakes to traditional Greek desserts. The girls took Sweet Celebrations to a new level. They shared their personal life celebrations with their fans, which makes this book filled with fervor and sparkle. The sisters in pink quit their corporate jobs in order to pursue a dream that they thought would never happen, but to their delight and dedication, Georgetown Cupcake became a reality rather than a faraway dream.
HNA: What was your inspiration behind the idea Georgetown Cupcake?
GTC: “We grew up baking with our grandmother who was born in Greece. She was at home all day while our grandfather was at work. We spent a lot of time at our grandparent’s house because both our parents also worked. In our early childhood, we would follow her around the kitchen all day because she was constantly cooking and baking all day. Our memories of her are always at the kitchen. She was a tremendous influence on us growing up, and everything we learned about cooking and baking in particular, we learned from her. Therefore, one day we said when we grow up we are going to open up a bakery together just like a lot of sisters do.”
They continued, “Life took us in different directions. Our parents worked very hard to send us to college and wanted us to work for big companies. We didn’t think opening a bakery would please them, so we scratched that idea from our minds. I (Sophie) went to Princeton and majored in molecular biology and Katherine went to Marymount University and majored in politics. For the next six to eight years we focused on our careers. Meanwhile, we still kept baking and saying we are going to do this! Finally, in summer of 2007, we said to one another, ‘what are we waiting for?’ Why are we so afraid of what our family and friends will think? We had great stable careers that we loved, but we still wanted to do this. Even though we thought this is a huge risk, and were really worried of what our parents would think of us quitting our jobs to start a bakery. We can’t worry about what other people think! This is our dream and if we don’t do it now, then when are we ever going to do it? And so we quit our jobs to the shock of our family and opened Georgetown Cupcake.
We started very small, found a small storefront in Georgetown that was very charming but rough. It needed a lot of work, but we did a lot of the work ourselves. When we started this business we didn’t want to ask our parents and family for money, so we used our own money, maxed out our credits cards and did a lot of the work ourselves. We didn’t have a lot to start with so we did a lot of the early legwork and construction on our own. When we opened the doors, we were shocked! The first day we had a huge line down the block and sold out of cupcakes in the first two hours, and we were like ‘wow!’ What did we get ourselves into? The line never went away and people were going crazy for our cupcakes. We were using our grandmother’s recipes and modified them to make cupcakes. We wanted to be able to offer our customers a variety of different flavors and still do one product and do it very well. These cupcakes were baked fresh daily! Katherine and I were doing all the baking and our mother had come to help us for opening weekend and she ended up staying to help too and we pulled her out of retirement. It has been a huge success. We feel very blessed. It’s been four and half years and we have grown from our first shop in Georgetown into four more locations. We now have one in Bethesda, MD, SoHo, NY, Boston, MA and we are opening in Los Angeles, CA next month. We also ship our cupcakes all over the U.S., which is wonderful because we are able to get them to our fans that don’t necessarily live in any of those cities. We have a TV show, which is a ton of fun and an exciting adventure. We have been able to share our stories as two Greek sisters running a business with their Greek mother in the background who always is telling us what to do and inserting her opinion. The show follows our journeys as we build intense but amazing sculptures of cupcakes. We also do a lot for the Greek community as well: we have Father Steve from the St. Sophia Church here in Washington, DC featured a couple of times. We have done Greek birthday parties for our mother. We love being able to show our Greek heritage on the show. We get a lot of emails and fan letters from across the country from Greek girls, sisters and families that they love watching the show and how it reminds them of their families. The show has been a really great way for us to share our Greek heritage with everyone.”
HNA: Can you please talk about your Greek heritage? Where is your family from in Greece?
GTC: “Two villages from north of Thessalonica. In our first book, we share our stories from our grandmother. In our second book ‘Sweet Celebrations’ we share pictures from our travels to Greece. Every other summer, either we would go or our cousins would come here. Our father’s family is in Greece, so we have a lot of cousins and uncles in Greece. We love visiting and we wish could visit more now, but since we have opened the bakery it’s very difficult for us to get away but we love it. We also went to Greek school every Saturday morning. It’s a common experience amongst Greek American families. Looking back it was a very good experience but when you are a kid and you have to wake up early on Saturday morning well, we didn’t want to go!”
HNA: What advice would you like to share with fellow young Hellenes?
GTC: “Our message and we always say this, is if you have a dream, don’t be afraid to go after it. I know for us, especially in Greek families, there is a lot of pressure to go to college and get a great job. Both of our parents were born in Greece and so literally we are first generation. We always encourage people to do what makes them happy in life. If you do what you are passionate about, you are going to succeed and do well. It just requires a lot of hard work.
Our grandfather came here, not knowing any English and came to Boston and tried to find a job and slowly brought our family over one by one and started a new life here. That’s just a lot of courage. Courage and determination has really affected how Katherine and I view our lives. If they can take that risk and move from Greece to here, not knowing the language then you should be able to accomplish your dreams having that same kind of courage and faith. If you have a dream, then go for it. You need to have a strong work ethic and for us we have inherited it from our grandparents. You can’t just sit around and wait for things to happen. You need to go after things in life and not be afraid and take risks. And I think this is something that you could learn from the older generations.”
HNA: What can we expect from your new book “Sweet Celebrations” that will be released on October 9th?
GTC: “We are so excited about this book. We basically share all of our recipes for every kind of celebration in life. Everything from holiday parties to life events and we are proud to include our grandmother’s Greek recipes of her loukoumades, koulourakia and the vasilopita. We love sharing them along with all our cupcake recipes for all our fans. We loved baking these things with her. It was a big part of our childhood and we love sharing these recipes with our fans.”
HNA: What is your favorite cupcake flavor?
Katherine: “Salted caramel.”
Sophie: “Chocolate hazelnut. Salted is a very popular one.”
HNA: You have locations in Washington, DC, Bethesda, MD, SoHo, NYC, Boston, MA and upcoming one in Los Angeles, CA. Any plans for expanding more?
GTC: “We are always looking at new locations in different cities. It is all about finding the right shops because we want each Georgetown cupcake to be very special. For us it’s about finding the perfect space in each city where people walk through the doors and they feel that magic through the door. We are hoping to bring Georgetown cupcake to all cities everywhere soon.
HNA: What other plans do you have in store for the future?
GTC: “We are constantly filming more episodes for our TLC Series ‘DC Cupcakes’ and working on our third book right now that will be out next year. We are constantly keeping busy!”
Photos Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers