Just four years after opening their bakery doors, Sweet Arleen’s has been able to stand out from the confectionary competition, earning high praises from customers and critics alike, including winning Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” championship. With consumer success and name recognition, the bakery is poised for growth as a national franchise brand. In fact, since Sweet Arleen’s began franchising in May of 2013, the emerging franchisor has signed eight units in eight months.
“Based on the incredible success we’ve seen since our bakery launch, we felt that franchising would be the best mechanism for growth on a national scale,” says the bakery’s namesake, CEO, and founder, Arleen Scavone. “We’re looking for individuals with entrepreneurial spirits to bring our California-based confections across the country.”
Coming from a modest upbringing in Northern California, banker-turned-baker Scavone has been a self-starter since the very beginning. At the age of eight, Scavone learned her first lesson in distribution management when she began selling Christmas greeting cards door-to-door. After discovering that retail was her niche, Scavone decided to continue her tactical drive, setting a series of goals that she wanted to achieve, including buying her own car, getting into business, and moving to Southern California. By 18, she had achieved all of those goals.
Scavone supported her family and herself, and without a bachelor’s degree, became her family’s primary breadwinner. After beginning her career at a small bank, she began climbing the ranks at Washington Mutual, eventually reaching the position of senior vice president. In 2008, when Scavone left her job with the banking giant, she set her sights on another goal to achieve. That entrepreneurship opportunity would take shape in the form of her own consulting firm, OpExNow, which now has a strong national footprint, thanks to a team of dedicated consultants. But, consulting didn’t completely satisfy Scavone’s sweet tooth.
“After years of consulting great businesses, I decided I wanted to blend my experience with my passion for food and create a culinary-centric business,” she says. “Since our opening, we have established a proven model that will propel Sweet Arleen’s forward in the franchising industry.”
In 2008, Scavone and her team began the build-out of the boutique bakery concept, and a year later, Sweet Arleen’s officially opened their doors baking cupcakes and bread puddings in Westlake Village, California. Today, after several rounds on Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” and the Cooking Channel’s “Unique Sweets,” Scavone is preparing to continue extending the success of Sweet Arleen’s beyond California through franchising.
The brand has three franchise units scheduled to open in early 2014 with the goal of selling an additional 100 units over the next three to five years. By focusing on bringing multiunit owner/operators to the system, Sweet Arleen’s hopes to be on track to sell 22 stores this year.
In addition to launching their first franchise location in Orange County, California, in the first half of 2014, Sweet Arleen’s is also looking forward to the store’s debut of a new, modern prototype. Guests can expect an all-glass building with modern lighting and upscale finishes like contemporary chandeliers, a cupcake bar, and a private Sweet Occasions Consultation area. The typical cost of build-out for this model ranges from $250,000 to $300,000.
“As a child, my mother always believed in having cream and butter in the cabinets at all times—I suppose I have her to thank for my taste for quality and perfection,” Scavone says. “Similarly, our customers know what ‘perfect’ tastes like. It’s my promise to give Sweet Arleen’s fans and future customers a consistently happy experience as we continue expanding across the county.”