Courtney Clark is a pastry chef, wife, and mother who owns and operates Cake Nouveau on Packard. When she’s not creating the latest custom cake alongside her staff, including husband and business manager Kendon Smith, she’s doting on her two young children, Ollie, 2, and Lucy, 8 months. Ann Arbor Family chatted with her recently to find out how she’s building a community with cakes.
Tell me about Cake Nouveau.
Cake Nouveau is my busy cake and cupcake shop, where we specialize in sculpted fondant cakes. We offer cake truffles, cookies, and cupcakes in our retail store, and special order custom cakes. If it’s made out of cake, we do it. From dragons and sculpted dogs to Harry Potter and hamburgers, we sculpt it all out of sugar!
Tell me about your family.
My husband, Kendon, and I have two kids. Ollie is 2 and Lucy is 8 months. Both babies were with me at the shop full time until about 7 or 8 months (or until they couldn’t be contained in a jumpy swing anymore!)
How has becoming a parent influenced your business?
Being a parent definitely has changed how I run the business and what my priorities are. Before I was married, and definitely before I had kids, I could work as many hours as I wanted, and often end up working late into the night to get everything done. Now, I need and want to be home much earlier so I can actually see my kids and play with them before they have to go to bed. I have realized that I need to shift my focus to being home more during this time when I have very young kids.
What would you like families to know about Cake Nouveau?
We have the most amazing and dedicated customers, who come back year after year. There are many families where I have made their wedding cake, then baby shower cake, and, then later, kids’ birthday cakes. It has been fun to see these families and get to know them through cake! We also hold classes, host parties, and offer various events in our classroom space. And, we recently started selling many cake and candy supplies in our storefront.
Tell me about classes or special events for children or teens.
We have had many classes geared toward young children and teens, including summers camps and holiday classes. We always host a sugar cookie and gingerbread-decorating event in December, where everyone is welcome to stop by and decorate cookies to take home.
You appeared on TV as a participant in baking competitions. How did that experience help you?
We ended up competing in ten Food Network Challenges and one competition show on TLC in three years. This experience definitely taught me how to be organized, and how to work really fast! In the end, we won six out of 11 competitions, and even have our “big check” in the shop to prove it!
What are your goals and dreams for Cake Nouveau?
I always say, we are never at a loss for ideas, only a loss for time. We love to make cakes, and we will always offer custom sculpted cakes, but we may not be able to take on quite as many orders in an effort to be with our families. Now that I’m a parent, I have much more of an interest in offering kids’ events and classes, and getting involved in toddler hands-on activities here at the shop. I would love to focus on teaching children and families how to create amazing edible art.
Cake Nouveau, 1924 Packard Street, Ann Arbor. For more information,call 734-994-4033 or visit cakenouveau.com.