It doesn’t get any sweeter for Amy Hicks.
The owner of Seriously Sweet stood outside her business at 162 E. Davis St. Aug. 4 as more than 200 people stood in line for her ribbon cutting and official grand opening.
She originally opened in June, and the demand for her cupcakes, truffles and other sweets has been overwhelming since.
A Virginia native, Hicks bounced around several states helping take care of family members for the past decade.
Now they’re home.
“Permanently, this is it,” Amy said with a laugh.
Hicks has a long history with retail, having opened her first store in Sperryville in 2000 and then having run a store in Louisiana.
She said her and her husband Brian had a calling from God to return to Virginia, and it brought them to Culpeper.
“I’m from the area and I love it here,” Amy said. “This downtown area has the most amazing group of businesses. I’ve been in four or five different historic districts. This is top notch.”
“We thought we’d have around 80 or 90,” Amy said. “We have a lot of family and friends in the area, and they’re glad we came home I think.”
The hundreds who lined East Davis Street Friday were glad as well.
Hicks handed out samples, gift bags and raffle prizes as the crowd celebrated her sweet success.
Hicks planned to just have a soft opening in June to test out the register, but once the community got a taste of the jumbo filled cupcakes coming out of her kitchen, she couldn’t shut her doors.
“Every night the cupcakes doubled,” Hicks said, saying she bakes as many as 500 depending on pre orders. “I pretty much bake all night long. I don’t sleep that much right now. But we are working to get everything more efficient. My sister and my brother-in-law have been wonderful behind the scenes. Our next move will be to increase the chocolate offering and to increase the kitchen area.”
Her offerings now include the cupcakes, some other sweets like brownies and a counter full of tempting truffles.
Those truffles are made by long-time friend Nancy Galli, who she met 27 years ago at the Virginia Finest Food Show in Richmond. She started to order product from Galli and they became fast friends. Galli, owner of Nancy’s Candy Company in Meadows of Den, Va., provided chocolates for Hicks when she opened her Sperryville store 17 years ago. Now, with Hicks reopening another sweet shop, Galli is selling her unique truffles in Culpeper for the first time.
“The recipes are a culmination of being in business for 30 years,” Galli said. “We’ve been making these truffles for the last 10 years. They’ve all fueled my love of artistry.”
For how beautiful the truffles are, Galli says they taste just as wonderful.
“People always say it’s a work of art, I don’t really want to eat it,” Galli said. “I always tell them ‘it tastes better than it looks.’”
Most truffles are round, Galli said, but the ones she creates at her factory – using molds from Belgium – have a unique shape with a flat bottom.
Galli said she didn’t go to school to be a chocolatier, she just always had a sweet tooth and was an entrepreneur. Now, she employs 38 in her small community of 500.
Big sweet tooth, always been entrepreneurial
“Our business is wholesale, so we’re selling to other chocolate companies, other gift shops all over the country and Canada,” Galli said. “We’re so happy when we have Virginia customers.”
That entrepreneurial spirit has inspired and driven Hicks who said she believes in paying it forward and hopes she inspires local women to open their own business as well.
“She’s been a fantastic business mentor,” Hicks said. “She’s a very strong woman business entrepreneur and so is my mother. I surround myself with those people.”
Hicks also said one of her priorities is keeping prices affordable. Her cupcakes sell for $3 each and the truffles for $3.50 each.
“It’s very important that families with small children be able to enjoy some luxury items,” Hicks said.
She says baking fuels her creative spirit, especially when an order comes in for a pull apart cupcake cake.
“That gives me a chance to express a little bit of my creativity and my artistic ability within something I’m good at,” Hicks said. “I’m just trying to take a God-given talent and multiply it.”