Spring 2014
Heel Thyself with Cupcakes

This kiosk brings the owner’s love of fashion and food together in an unusual concept.

Women who love the efficiency of multi-tasking can appreciate the new “shoecakery” at the Westfield Topanga Mall in Canoga Park, CA.

Cupcake Stiletto founder Alicia Worthy claims credit for creating the world’s first shoecakery, and if she has anything to say about it, it certainly won’t be her last. Cupcake Stiletto is a retail business that offers customers a unique merchandise mix selling both gourmet cupcakes and trendy women’s shoes. “We really try to morph fashion, art and culinary together under one umbrella,” says Worthy.

Cupcake Stiletto first launched as an online business in September 2012. Since cupcake bakeries are common these days, Worthy, a lawyer turned entrepreneur, knew from the start that the key to success was going to be giving her cupcakery a distinctive flair. So, it made perfect sense to combine two of her favorite things—cupcakes and shoes. “You only have a short amount of time to grab the attention of customers. So, you need to do something different,” says Worthy.

Worthy has been working to build brand awareness ever since by getting her cupcakes and shoes directly in the path of potential customers. Cupcake Stiletto plans to use pop-up
stores, as well as local promotions and events, such as the Downtown Art Walk in Los Angeles, to promote the business.

Pop-up as trial run

CupcakeStiletto-shoeCupcake Stiletto tested a mall location by means of a pop-up kiosk at Westfield Topanga Mall. The pop-up, which ran through December, was a huge hit—generating both on-site sales and driving more business back to the company’s website. Worthy was lucky in being able to land a pop-up in a high-traffic area of Westfield Topanga Mall. On busy Saturdays at the mall, for example, Cupcake Stiletto sold about 1,000 of its trademark mini-cupcakes.

Worthy also worked to create a design that would stand out with signage, as well as highly visible displays of the freshly baked cupcakes and the company’s hottest selling shoe designs.

Mall shoppers choose from an assortment of freshly baked cupcakes, including Worthy’s favorite, vanilla bean, as well as try on a selection of shoes created by several independent designers. “The way that we have everything branded, we have created a lot of hype around Cupcake Stiletto for the short time that we have been in existence,” Worthy says. Once they taste the high-quality product, people love it. But, the challenge is to get people’s attention and get them to take that taste, says Worthy.

The pop-up was so successful that Cupcake Stiletto transitioned to a new permanent kiosk location at the mall. The kiosk features some slight design tweaks, including a more efficient layout so that cupcakes can be displayed on all sides. Worthy also plans to pursue other pop-up stores in the Los Angeles area, including one that operated near Macy’s Plaza downtown.

“You need to have a strong marketing campaign and strategy and know what the purpose of your pop-up is,” Worthy says. “The pop-up has taught us so much about what you need to have a successful business, especially a physical location,” says Worthy. “Some of the key ingredients for Cupcake Stiletto are combining a high-traffic location with an eye-catching visual design.”


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Beth Mattson-Teig

Beth Mattson-Teig is a freelance business writer based in Minneapolis, Minn. She specializes in covering the national commercial real estate industry.
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