In 2009, former California banker Arleen Scavone decided to combine passion and profession, opening a local bakery called Sweet Arleen’s in Westlake Village, Calif. Now, after winning three consecutive “Cupcake Wars” competitions on the Food Network since 2010 along with several other media appearances, Scavone has decided to expand her baking footprint around the U.S. by launching a national franchise program in 2013.
“My goal for Sweet Arleen’s is to ensure that entrepreneurs who would like to add to their career or begin their career have a business model that is proven,” she said.
Scavone said her expansion plans include opening locations in 25 key markets nationwide over the next five years. Other markets she is considering include Plano, Orange County and Salt Lake City, along with locations in southern California, Chicago, Denver, Atlanta and Florida.
With her business on the rise, Scavone has targeted the suburbs southwest of the Houston area, specifically Sugar Land, for a new location as well.
“In terms of the Houston market, we have seen the population density, weather patterns and the new and growing population of popular, high-end chefs along with the food truck industry continue to rise,” Scavone said. “We see the Houston market as being ideal for what we are doing.”
In addition to her storefront in Westlake, Sweet Arleen’s operates a mobile service, “Suite of Sweets,” in southern California that she also plans to expand. Scavone uses her online presence to ship products nationally.
Although offering affordable treats is her trade, Scavone said an important part of her business is giving back to the community. She said Houston is well-known for its involved nonprofit sector and the high level of community involvement local businesses have.
“We want to give back to schools [and] sponsor local charity events,” she said. We really love Houston for our model, because Sweet Arleen’s is more than just a bakery but a way of giving back through fundraising with our mobile vehicle, Suite of Sweets.”
Scavone’s business offers a variety of treats and specializes in cupcakes and bread puddings with more than a dozen flavors of each. Every month, Scavone chooses a particular creation to highlight.
“Coming from the banking world I learned that you can’t provide all products to all people,” Scavone said. “We have stayed very true to our core brands, which is cupcakes and bread puddings. We do offer cakes as well. Our cakes are available in cupcake flavors, so we have cakes available in more than 30 combinations.”
More distinctive flavors include Scavone’s line of breakfast-infused bread puddings, such as her maple bacon and French toast combinations. In addition, Scavone provides a selection of gluten-free and sugar-free offerings.
“The first inspiration behind my cupcakes was that I have never had much of a sweet tooth,” Scavone said. “My inspiration was to create a not-too-sweet cupcake product. We focus on our icing and we specialize in French and Swiss butter creams and different mousses and cream cheeses that are tempered with a secret ingredient. What this all does is limit that sugar forward-flavor so the products just melt in your mouth.”
Although a banker by trade, Scavone said during her more than 30 years in the banking industry she never lost the passion for baking she found as a young child.
“I grew up in northern California in a more rural area,” she said. “From these humble beginnings, we raised our own vegetables, fruit and livestock. I learned to cook and bake at a young age and it has always been very comfortable for me.”