Remember when you were younger, walking past establishments dedicated only to serving scrumptious desserts, and thinking that would be your dream job when you got older (mainly because of all the free pudding)? Now imagine growing up and working in one of those places as a teenager, only to end up owning the place yourself no more than four years later. If it sounds too good to be true, meet Charlotte and Jen Davison: twin sisters who started off washing pots at Crumbs Cupcakery, a bakery and café selling (you guessed it) delicious cupcakes, before taking over the business at only 20 years old.
Situated on College Street, right behind the magnificent York Minster, Crumbs has been dominating the dessert scene in York since Charlotte and Jen became owners in 2018. The tight-knit team currently consists of waitressing staff and two bakers alongside the twins, who still work and bake at the cupcakery every day. In fact, when we caught up with Charlotte, it hadn’t been long since the anniversary of their ownership. ‘Two years last week!’ Charlotte happily tells us. And despite their lack of experience in owning a business, they’re already on the right path for success. ‘Getting the brand known throughout the country is our main goal, at the moment,’ Charlotte says. Having already been nominated for prestigious awards like the Visit York Tourism Award 2019 for ‘Café or Tearoom of the Year’, it’s safe to say that Charlotte and Jen haven’t bitten off more than they can chew.
Of course, the pair were already more than familiar with Crumbs, having worked there from adolescence. ‘We were 16,’ Charlotte says. ‘Working on the Saturday pot wash.’ Fast forward four years, and the business is theirs. ‘We’d come back from travelling, and didn’t really know what we were doing with our lives,’ she tells us. ‘We didn’t know what we wanted to do, but I knew Danielle [the previous owner], and knew she was selling the place, so we thought “why not?” and we bought the business!’
Going from pots-to-boss in such a short space of time is a huge leap, especially at such a young age. ‘It was a huge step for us,’ Charlotte admits. ‘Obviously we were only 20, but we just thought, we’re never going to get this opportunity again, so we took it.’ And it’s a good job they did – despite the risks, the transition from working in the kitchen to running a business has been as smooth as the frosting on their cakes. ‘Thankfully we haven’t faced any major challenges really – we’ve been pretty lucky that we’ve got a great team and great customers.’
And things have only been getting better since Charlotte and Jen took over – in fact, towards the end of last year, they were featured in The North Yorkshire Cook Book. ‘Crumbs has gained quite a lot more of a following now,’ Charlotte says. But that may also be due to the many events that they regularly host at the cupcakery. ‘We do lots of kids’ parties, and hen parties – even baby showers as well. Everyone gets to decorate their own cupcake, they get sprinkles, icing, all that fun stuff, and then they get afternoon tea to finish it off. They’re really nice events.’
With such a solid core range of cupcakes at Crumbs, we imagine it would be quite the challenge for anybody who attends one of these cupcake-making parties to create something tastier than what’s already on offer. The collection of cakes at Crumbs range from the simple but delicious Victoria 99, inspired by the ice cream of the same name – a vanilla sponge filled with jam, topped with butter cream and, of course, the iconic chocolate flake – to the All American, a chocolate cake filled with caramel and crunchy peanut butter, and topped with peanut butter frosting. But there is a cupcake missing from their arsenal that’s a very popular request among customers. ‘Red Velvet is always the one people ask for – always!’ Charlotte laughs. For now though, it looks as though their collection won’t be expanding any time soon. ‘At the moment we’re not adding more, but in the future, if we get a second Crumbs, then definitely. But people already struggle choosing between the flavours we have now, so if we add any more it might send them over the edge!’
‘We do a special cupcake which changes every single day though, and we take requests on board, so if we know someone’s coming on a specific day and we know that they want a specific cupcake, we’ll put it on that day as the special for them.’ Putting on a different cupcake every day takes a lot of taste testing, which is where Jen comes in. ‘She’s the taste tester, as well as my business partner,’ Charlotte says. ‘She’s the one who will do all the quality control.’ And after spending so many years (and tasting so many cupcakes) at Crumbs, Charlotte and Jen have decided which cupcakes are their favourite. ‘Mine is chocolate orange,’ Charlotte proudly states. ‘Jen’s is chocolate – there’s certainly a theme here with the chocolate!’
So what can the Living North readers who are heading to our spring fair in March expect from Crumbs Cupcakery? ‘We’ll be bringing a very wide range of our cupcakes, lots of the specials, and some brownies and traybakes, which we make ourselves.’ So if you’re in the mood to get your hands on one of Crumbs’ iconic cupcakes from their core range, and even a special or two, then head to Living North LIVE, at York Racecourse from 20th–22nd March.