Making the world sweet, one cupcake at a time

KAPA‘A — Two years ago, Westy Morita and a friend lugged coolers containing baked goods into what is now the Courtyard by Marriott at Coconut Beach to help the Kapa‘a Middle School Choir and ‘Ukulele Band raise funds for its trip to the Heritage Music Festival.

“The cupcakes came out for the first time and, since then, we’ve sold more than 25,000 cupcakes,” Morita said.

“A cupcake is a smile with frosting,” reads an inscription painted on the wall of the Sugar Mill Cupcakes shop which celebrated its opening Saturday at Roxy Square in Old Kapa‘a Town in conjunction with the town’s First Saturday celebration.

“Cupcakes are cute and easy to eat,” Morita said, the sound of her words bringing a smile to her face. “They’re also fun to make, although it takes a lot of attention to detail.”

A familiar figure at both The Gourmet Market at The Shops at Kukui‘ula and the Kaua‘i Community Market at Kaua‘i Community College, Morita said she will continue to have a stand at both markets even with the opening of the Kapa‘a shop, which is located across from the Hawaiian church.

“Tylenn, one of my daughters, took care of the KCC market Saturday,” Morita said. “We will still be at The Shops at Kukui‘ula on Wednesdays. Of course, we’ll continue to deliver island-wide.”

The Kapa‘a shop is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays. It is closed on Sundays.

Morita operates Sugar Mill Cupcakes with the help of her staff including cake specialist Alicia Higa, Denissa Andaya, Cinzia Bruno and daughter Tylenn.

Beyond the staff, there is the support of her family, all who turned out to help celebrate Saturday, each one bringing a contribution to the potluck celebration. Daughter Keegan created the paper flowers which complemented the cupcake offerings.

“One of the things I discovered during these past two years is custom cakes,” Morita said. “Alicia is tremendous in creating and hand-painting some unique cakes. You can see some of the examples on the website.”

Morita said they even do wedding cakes. Cupcake-based wedding cakes are becoming more popular because they offer more flavors and appeal to more people, she said.

“People just get the topper cake, and we fill the special frame (holds up to 100 cupcakes) with cupcakes of their choosing,” Morita said. “The frame is even made so they can add special ribbons and rhinestones along the edges to glamorize it.”

Described as “Kaua‘i’s gourmet cupcakery,” www.sugarmillcupcakes.com describes the daily cupcake flavor specials and contains the latest news from the Kapa‘a-based cupcake maker.

In addition to the discovery of custom cakes, Morita also has a dream of one day being on the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars.

“I think Hawai‘i people would do really well on that show,” Morita said. “We have some unique flavors and because of who we are, we would be successful.”

To open the shop in Kapa‘a, Morita said she got a lot of help from Sandy Poehnelt of The Right Slice and Aletha Thomas of Monkeypod Jam. Both women are regulars at the Kukui‘ula and KCC community markets.

“We’re kind of like the Holy Trinity of Food,” Morita said, laughing. “First, Aletha wanted a kitchen, then Sandy wanted a kitchen and, finally, myself. But we talk a lot and they were really helpful. It’s like we all support each other.”

Morita said other aspiring business people constantly talk to them about their dreams, and they offer suggestions and encouragement to help others achieve their goals.

“Cupcakes are here to stay,” Morita said. “They’ve been around for a long time, and it’s only now they’ve started to hit the mainstream.”

But that doesn’t stop her from looking at other foods like toffees, marshmallows, cookies and other confections.

“Cupcakes are definitely here to stay,” Morita said, and Sugar Mill Cupcakes, like the motto on the wall states, is making the world sweet, one cupcake (and treat) at a time.

Visit www.sugarmillcupcakes.com or call 635-2856 for more information.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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