Sweet Taste of Success - Candle Ready Cakes

Family-ran business finds a new home on Main St. with DB&T

candle ready cake picture Candle Ready Cakes has been a Dubuque Main Street feature since August 2012. In its four short years, the small bakery’s gourmet and specialty cakes, cupcakes and other confections have earned reputations as some of the tastiest treats in Dubuque.

“We have a lot to offer,” says Jill Schrempf, Co-Owner. “If you need a cake—no matter what the occasion—you can come to us and we’ll work with you to create something special and unique.” Candle Ready Cakes is staffed by five people, including Schrempf and her mother, Beth. Together they spend their days baking and decorating made-to-order treats at Candle Ready’s quaint Main Street location. And despite its relatively modest size, the storefront has plenty going on inside. “On a typical Saturday, we’ll welcome about 100 walk-in customers,” she says proudly. “And we have at least one wedding cake booked every weekend this whole year.”

The possibility of pursuing a career in the culinary arts first occurred to Schrempf, a Dubuque native, while she was majoring in business at Arizona State University. “I didn’t necessarily know what I wanted to do,” she says. “But I quickly realized that a ‘traditional’ business career wasn’t my calling.”

One night, a TV commercial for a nearby culinary school caught her eye. Soon after, she was enrolled and following a creative and unexpected career path. “I always baked with my grandma and mom,” says Schrempf. “But it wasn’t something I thought I’d ever make a career of.”

After graduating culinary school, Schrempf worked as a pastry assistant at a restaurant in Chicago. But the long hours and distance from her family proved taxing and she decided to move home. “When I got back to Dubuque, I started doing cakes out of my house,” she says. “But business took off and I ran out of room!”

Together with her mother, Schrempf decided it was time to open up a bakery. They were still in the planning stages when the unexpected availability of the Main Street location set things in motion. “It was such a perfect spot, we couldn’t resist,” says Schrempf. “That’s when everything started getting real.”

DBT ad on the side of jule bus With the location chosen, Schrempf sought the financial backing necessary to get her business off the ground. But being a restaurant made the process difficult. “We approached several local banks about a loan,” she says. “And while most of them simply told us ‘no’, Dubuque Bank and Trust took the time to understand our needs and introduce us to different options.”

Today the business-major-turned-culinary-artist looks back on her decision to partner with DB&T with a great deal of satisfaction. Not only did the bank help her get her business off the ground, she’s knows they’ll be there to help her grow it in the future. And when it comes to giving advice to other first-time business owners, her message is clear: “Just talk to DB&T and find out what they can do. They might not have the option you thought you were looking for, but they’ll give you options that are just as good—if not better.”

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