Heather McDonnell does not look like a baker. Her hands are slender; her eyes laugh. She is funny and modest to a fault. She doesn't look the type to leave a pan over high heat, especially one on a television set. But she did when she was a contestant on the Food Network's popular reality show Cupcake Wars.
She won, too.
The result of her winning last September produced an increase of 300 percent in her business. McDonnell notes the maxim about the baking business: People frequent neighborhood bakeries.
"People drove down from Charlotte," she says. "But now I've had my 15 minutes of fame."
CupCrazed is aptly named. McDonnell left the wild classroom world of a seventh grade social studies teacher to pursue her dream of opening a labor-intensive cupcakery, all the while raising four children. With over a year of retail business under her belt, McDonnell is reflective about her entrepreneurial choice. "I'm not in this to get rich," she laughs. She did note, however, that one app helpfully directs people from I-77 to her shop, only blocks away, in Baxter Village, and on Fridays and Saturdays, many out-of-towners who saw her on Cupcake Wars stop by for treats.
CupCrazed is warm and inviting, with a whimsical ambience. A soft seating area surrounds a faux fireplace, and vintage oak tables and chairs painted in a medley of colors are comfortable and nostalgic of the time of family dinners. Lit glass display cases hold large trays of cupcake flavors.
Although Red Velvet is her most popular cupcake, and a regular on the menu, her most requested is Sweet Tea, a warm weather cupcake. But for a full-out sugar rush, The Oreo cupcake is a kid's dream: rich chocolate cake slathered with Oreo cream filling frosting and dusted with chocolate cookie crumbs.
936 Market St., Fort Mill, SC; 803-396-7372
Website: www.cupcrazed.com; daily selection on Facebook
Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday.
Cost: $2.50 each, $2.75 for filled
Gluten-free and Vegan: Fridays (mostly chocolate)