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Let them eat cupcakes!

Meet the mom behind the sensational Georgetown Cupcake

Created date

August 24th, 2010

The Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., is known for its charming federal-style townhouses, its trendy shops and restaurants, and [caption id="attachment_14084" align="alignright" width="280" caption="Sophie LaMontagne, Elaine Kallinis, and Katherine Kallinis work together at Georgetown Cupcake. (Photos by Michele Harris)"][/caption] most recently, its cupcakes. Georgetown Cupcake, a cheerful pink and white store, has become such a phenomenon that a line snakes out the door and up the steep hill of 33rd Street from the time the store opens in the morning to the time it closes at night.

An overnight sensation

The line started to form at Georgetown Cupcake not long after sisters Katherine Kallinis and Sophie LaMontagne opened their doors in 2008. Early on, the sisters were unprepared for the overwhelming demand for their confections, sometimes selling every last cupcake before lunch. They actually had to close the shop and bake more cupcakes before they could reopen. Today, Georgetown Cupcake has over one hundred employees who keep its two retail locations and thriving shipping operation humming. They also have a reality TV program calledDC CUPCAKESon TLC which documents how Sophie and Katherine meet their customers demands for delicious and beautiful cupcakes. Now when people wait in line, they not only want their daily dose of sweetness, many are there to nab a photo with the celebrity bakers they ve [caption id="attachment_14085" align="alignright" width="280" caption="Customers wait in line over an hour for Georgetown Cupcake s confections."][/caption] seen on TV. While the lovely cupcake sisters smile warmly for the cameras, a pair of soft brown eyes beams with pride from the back of the cupcakery. Those eyes belong to the sisters mother, Elaine Kallinis, known to fans of the TV show and store employees alike as Mommy.

A helping hand

When her daughters told her that they wanted to quit their jobs to pursue their dream of opening a cupcake store, Elaine Kallinis was shocked. I did everything I could to persuade them not to because they had wonderfully successful careers, she says. Katherine worked for Gucci in Toronto and Sophie was in venture capital. But cupcakes were more than a product to the sisters whose love of baking they learned from their grandmother. When she baked a cake, she had small pans for them to bake the extra batter in. They loved their grandmother and I think it s an emotion that came up, says Elaine Kallinis. Every time they look at a cupcake, they think of grandma and it s something they cherish. It was clear that her daughters had made up their minds to turn grandma s recipes into a business, so Elaine promised to help in whatever way she could. When Elaine found herself downsized and without a job, her daughters urged her to join them in Georgetown. The fact that the girls do want me to be here to help them means a lot, she says. Wherever they go, I ll go. When they asked me to help, I said, I ll do whatever you need. Anyone involved with a family business knows how difficult it is to work alongside someone you love. We re so open with each other this works for us, but it wouldn t necessarily work for everyone, says Elaine. When someone gets upset or yells, there s always a hug right after. Her daughter, Katherine, agrees, saying, We know that family is the most important thing, so whatever was said or whatever issues we may have had, at the end of the day we re a family. We know how to put those things aside.

Icing on the cake

As if running a business that sells more than 5,000 cupcakes a day isn t hard enough, the sisters recently invited cameras behind the cupcake counter to filmDC CUPCAKES, a fresh new reality series on TLC. One part food program, one part business profile, with a heaping helping of family drama mixed in,DC CUPCAKESshows that creating something that is as beautiful as it is delicious is no piece of cake. Each episode follows Sophie and Katherine as they manage tight deadlines, demanding customers, and a young and often inexperienced staff. Mommy is a regular character on the show and when she steps in to help, she often ends up committing the universal sin of mothers everywhere by saying or doing something wrong. I try to stay out of everyone s way, says Elaine. But if they are in a crunch, and they need someone to make fondant or they need someone to make boxes, I m there to help. Though Sophie and Katherine might bristle at her suggestions, their genuine appreciation for their mother s support and for each other givesDC CUPCAKESa certain charm and heart lacking in almost every other reality show. So what s it like to become a reality star? For the life of me, I can t believe this is happening, says Elaine. I m 58 and never in my wildest dreams did I ever envision this to see my daughters succeed like this, first with the business and now with the TV show it s unbelievable. And for me to be a part of that; it s like icing on the cake! For more information,