Tracycakes Bakery Café in downtown Abbotsford is adored by the community, and one will often hear the words, “I love that place!” and “They have the best cupcakes!” The key ingredient is not just its deep-rooted ties to the historical downtown district or the way a simple cupcake can brighten a day, no, the secret to success can be found right in the name of the business: Tracy Dueck.
Upon entering the store and sitting at a cozy table with a cup of hot coffee, guests will feel at home surrounded by chic vintage-inspired décor, old-fashioned teacups and a beautiful armoire that owner Dueck repurposed herself from a consignment store.
“Most of the things in the store I got second-hand, I am a thrifter and I love DIY projects,” says Dueck. “I like to make ordinary things beautiful, and make use of the things I already have, and I don’t like to waste anything!”
Before Dueck opened Tracycakes in 2006 she was a stay at home mom and wife who loved to bake and entertain guests. Her goal when opening her bakery café was to bring the same warmth and comfort of her home to her customers. Dueck wanted to create a space where people could come and gather around a table with friends while enjoying her delicious baked goods or a soup and sandwich for lunch.
ValleyBuzz met up with the cupcake confectionist to discuss family, success, and, of course, cupcakes.
You’ve run a successful business in Abbotsford for almost 10 years, how important is the support of the community for a small business like yours?
Tracy Dueck: It’s extremely important, Abbotsford is very community minded. The local businesses like to reciprocate with each other; we’re all very supportive of one another. The members of the community embraced us from day one and we were very thankful for that.”
What do you love about historic downtown Abbotsford?
I love the layout of the streets and the buzz of the cars. It always feels like something is going on down here. I can go into any business around here and chat with everyone, we’re all very close-knit.
You’re involved in a lot of community groups, such as the Rotary Club, Grow Your Biz, Abbotsford Executive and more. What has being a member of these groups taught you?
The motto of the Rotary is “Service Above Self” and that is very important to me. I never had any formal training or business experience before opening Tracycakes so having these groups of people to network with and get advice from is very helpful. They have the experience and have gone through everything in the business world so I can call them anytime if I have questions and vice versa.
Is there anything you wish you knew before starting your business, or advice you could give those looking to start their own business?
Grow slow, don’t spread yourself too thin. Also, use the resources available to you. There are a lot of grants and funding available to new business owners that I wish I were more aware of when I got started. Anyone looking to start a business should really look into these options and take advantage of them.
Both of your daughters are now involved with the business. What have they taught you?
My older daughter is like the yin to my yang. She’s more structured and analytical and helps to fill in my blanks. My younger daughter, Jessica, is so tenacious. She really accomplishes anything she sets her mind to and I love seeing that. We have family dinners every Sunday and that really helps to keep me grounded.
Let’s talk cupcakes! What drew you to them as your signature dessert?
I always made cupcakes from scratch for my kids’ birthdays so I guess that is how it happened. I love making them because they are like little works of art, they allow me to be creative.
It seems like cupcake shops are becoming more prevalent, but you were way ahead of the game. Why do you think cupcakes have staying power?
We wanted to differentiate ourselves right away. Instead of buying a cupcake and leaving, we wanted our guests to gather around the table and sit with friends.”
You have tons of different flavours; where do you get your inspiration for new cupcakes?
A lot of the flavours are inspired by my family; all of my kids and grandkids have their own cupcake. And when my children get married their spouses get a cupcake, too. I created ‘Love At First Bite’ for my son’s wedding. Jessica’s fiancé Nick is coming up with his flavour right now, he’s thinking of a banana bread cake with a Nutella filling. He wants to call it the ‘Nickity Split’. The staff also comes up with flavour ideas. We held a contest last year where everyone made a different cupcake and we voted on a winner.
Any ‘experimental’ flavours that didn’t turn out very well?
We made a beer flavoured cupcake. Needless to say it didn’t taste great.
Do you consider yourself a ‘foodie’? What are some meals you like to make in your spare time and things you do to relax?
I do consider myself a foodie. I love to try new foods and restaurants. And even though cooking is part of my job, I still find it very relaxing. My favourite thing to make for dinner is fried chicken. I make amazing fried chicken, I haven’t figured out how to incorporate it into the bakery yet though.
What does retirement look like for you?
I feel young, and this business feeds my soul. I’m not ready to retire anytime soon. But when that time comes I would love to travel and go on adventures with my husband. We would really love to travel through Spain someday.
What do you believe is the key to a happy work and life balance?
The most important thing is to have supportive friends and family. Surround yourself with those who will understand your busy schedule and late nights and keep you grounded. If you have these things you will be successful, whether you’re a stay at home mom or a business owner.
After tasting a few of her famous cupcakes, it’s understandable what the hype is all about. They are moist and the flavours, like chocolate, orange and Bavarian cream, really stand out instead of tasting like a sugar overload.
In addition to cupcakes, Tracycakes also offers other baked goods, soups and sandwiches, high tea, wedding cakes and catering. Dueck believes that cupcakes are more than just a trend because they offer people a “little luxury, a treat to spoil themselves.”
Dueck also says that her and her team cater to what their guests want, whether that is allergen friendly items, such as gluten free baking, or treats for the health-conscious, such as a healthy high tea.
Address: 101 – 2636 Montrose Ave, Abbotsford
Phone: 604-852 – 1904
Monday to Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Written by Dallas Carlson. Follow Dallas on Twitter at @dk_carlson.