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Sugar Rush by Amanda brings fresh sweetness to Suamico

Peers’ support and online buzz were key ingredients for opening bakery

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November 14, 2023

SUAMICO – From Grandma’s right-hand kiddo in the kitchen to the teenage go-to baker for her friends and family, to the registered nurse who regularly made cupcakes to brighten her coworkers’ days, Amanda Blawat was seemingly born to bake.

“Even when I was a child, I would say, ‘I want to own my own bakery,’” Blawat said.

For most, a passion for sweets is treated as a mere hobby, and despite her lifetime of piping frosting, Blawat said until recently, going professional was never more than a pipe dream.

“I never thought it was something I would do because it wasn’t the safe choice,” she said. “Becoming a nurse, having a stable career – that’s a safe choice. Owning your own bakery is not.”

Presently, both of those careers occupy Blawat’s long hours, equally splitting time attired in her nursing scrubs at a Green Bay hospital, and in her apron at her very own bakery, Sugar Rush by Amanda. 

Having cakes… and selling them, too
Blawat soft-opened the brick-and-mortar Sugar Rush last month at 1755 Riverside Drive in Suamico, nestled in Vickery Village.

The building’s prior tenant, she said, happened to be moving out just as she was searching for her own storefront.

An even sweeter coincidence, Blawat said, was that she had worked with the owner of Vickery Village, an orthopedic surgeon, earlier in her nursing career.

Blawat said the building dates back to the 1800s, and said she was directly involved with its new look and now-commercial-grade kitchen – all while applying for the necessary licenses.

“The day the health inspector came and said, ‘You’re good to go,’” she said. “I moved all my stuff in the next day and started working out of here.”

By this point, Blawat said it had been just more than two years since she, per her husband’s recommendation, had created a Sugar Rush by Amanda page on Facebook to share pictures of her home-baked cupcakes and more. 

“I love cupcakes, and being able to come up with different flavors and whatnot, (it) was always fun to me,” she said.

Blawat said it was fun watching Sugar Rush page’s organic and rapid growth – as folks followed her latest creations – increasingly receiving requests for her to sell her goods, which she eventually did.

“I would make six different cupcake flavors, and throw one of each flavor in a pack, and sell variety packs for what it cost me to make them, just to see if there was interest,” she said. “It took off very fast. So much so that, in a few years, I’m here (at the brick-and-mortar bakery). You always hope it goes somewhere, but I never thought it would bring me to where I’m at today.”

Blawat said as her production outgrew her kitchen, she recognized her entire family would appreciate her moving the operation to a devoted baking space.

Amanda Blawat is the owner, baker and decorator at Sugar Rush by Amanda. Matthew Day Photo

“I did everything out of my home, so I was thoroughly cleaning my kitchen before I baked, and thoroughly cleaning after, but it was insane,” she said. “I have a two-year-old and a six-month-old and a husband. I know he was excited for me to move, too, because I would be like, ‘Get out of my kitchen!’ But we have an open concept house, so it’s not like a designated kitchen.”

A balancing act of passions
Blawat said as she settles into Sugar Rush’s new location, she’s still as passionate as ever for both of her careers.

“I worked really hard to become a nurse, and I love what I do as a nurse,” she said, “So, it’s a little part of me I get to hold on to, and keep doing both of the things I love.”

Blawat said she reduced her hours at the hospital before her second child was born and she began focusing more on her baking business.

And amid all the changes in her life, she said she appreciates the relative comfort of working as a nurse, much of which she said feels second nature to her after eight years of experience.

“Working in the operating room is super cool,” she said. “It’s something new every single day. I get to take care of people in their most vulnerable state – they’re literally under general anesthesia, they can’t speak, they can’t move. So, being the nurse in the room, I’m that patient’s advocate – their voice. So, there’s something special about that, and I love taking care of people. I do it a lot more than I take care of myself most days.”

Though she’s now got an ideal location for Sugar Rush, Blawat said she is always striving to find that ever-elusive work-life balance.

“That’s the burning question,” she said when asked how she manages her complicated life. “I’m good with my time – I make the most of every minute of every day. I don’t necessarily know how I do it all, but somehow it all always gets done.”

Mixing it up
Much like the quest to achieve a perfect recipe, Blawat said she’s humble, open-minded and experimental regarding her strengths, her opportunities to grow and finding the ideal mix of products and quantities.

Among Sugar Rush’s differentiators, Blawat said, is the exclusive use of freshly made ingredients.

“Everything we make is from scratch,” she said. “From our cakes to our fillings to our frostings – everything is made from scratch by yours truly,” she said. “I think that’s one thing that probably sets us apart. Knowing that everything you’re eating is freshly made with the best ingredients and love – lots and lots of love.”

Amanda Blawat said a variety pack of cupcakes was the first bakery items she sold. Submitted Photo

Blawat said her passion and inspiration for baking continue to grow, particularly with access to online baking resources like Pinterest and TikTok, which she said she’s captivated with during her limited free time. 

“It’s not a job to me,” she said. “I just truly love (baking), and I think because I love it so much, as tacky as it might sound, it comes through in the things I make. I don’t know if that makes me unique – I’m sure any bakery or business owner has a great passion for what they do – but I feel like even all these years later, I love it so much, and I hope that everyone else loves it, too.”

Blawat said her ever-expanding passion has inspired her to continually expand her baked good offerings – from cupcakes and cookies to heart-shaped Valentine’s Day cakes, to special-ordered number cakes for birthdays and anniversaries, as well as elaborate, multi-tier wedding cakes.

Blawat said though it’s exciting to try out new recipes and products, she still reveres the comforting classics, which includes honing her chocolate chip cookie recipe.

“That was probably my biggest thing of trying to perfect because so many people love so many different versions of it,” she said.

Blawat said another unique aspect of Sugar Rush is the way each bake is inimitable, even by herself, and that, she said, just how she likes it.

“(There’s) never a dull moment,” she said. “Every cake I’ve made is different and unique – I’ve never made any two that are exactly the same. And (customers) are thankful for that because there’s something special about it being completely customized to you specifically.”

At first, Blawat said she couldn’t quite describe the feeling she gets from a successful cake order – whether it’s specific or open-ended customer request – but eventually landed on “a sugar rush.”

“It’s a challenge, and it’s part of the creative side of being a cake artist,” she said. “Most of my customers are like, ‘You do awesome work – just do your thing.’”

Savoring the journey
Blawat said she’s been able to accommodate special requests for low-sugar or gluten-free bakes, but acknowledges she’s most talented with traditional dessert ingredients.

She said anytime a given customer’s ingredient or design specifications go beyond her comfort zone, she willingly recommends other local bakers.

“That’s the beautiful thing about being a bakery – you don’t have to do everything because there are other people that do,” she said. “So, you can find your niche and stick with what you’re good at and what you know. And what you don’t, you can say, ‘Hey, this person would be a better fit for you.’”

Chocolate chip cookies are one of Sugar Rush by Amanda’s specialties. Matthew Day Photo

Blawat said she anticipates she’ll never stop developing her baking skills and aspires to suit all unique requests – eventually. 

“How I got here is by being grounded, knowing what I’m capable of in the present moment and where I want to be in the future,” she said. “Plugging away each step of the way and not having to do all of it right away.”

Blawat said she also features her version of her mom’s chocolate peanut butter cake every week.

Another one of the ongoing challenges, she said, is the inventory she prepares each week at Sugar Rush.

She said her standby cupcake flavors are almond vanilla, classic chocolate, chocolate peanut butter, strawberry cheesecake, carrot cake and funfetti.

“Those are my core cupcakes I sell the most of,” she said. “And then I have so many other flavors than that, but to do all of those flavors every single week… maybe that would be the goal eventually. But right now it’s not something I can do.”

Blawat said she’s come to appreciate other challenges inherent to her business, stemming from the limited shelf life of freshly baked goods, as well as being the sole baker/decorator/everything for Sugar Rush – noting that being a staff of one, unfortunately, limits the number of orders she can take.

Hiring another baker is one potential option, Blawat said, and working at Sugar Rush full-time is perhaps a long-term goal.

“When I think of short-term goals, I want to get my bearings,” she said.

Blawat said she’s making plans for a grand opening, but more than anything is appreciating the exciting processes of her childhood dream coming true, carrying on her family’s skills and providing a bold example her kids will one day appreciate – all while helping to turn customers’ special occasions into their sweetest memories. 

“It’s been everything I could have hoped for,” she said. “I wish I would have done it sooner.”

Visit the Sugar Rush by Amanda’s page on Facebook to find more information and to view a gallery of recent work.

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