LYNDHURST, N.J. -- What started as a hobby to beat stress is now a full-time business for a Lyndhurst mom who traded the corporate world for the kitchen.
Arlene Murray, who grew up in Fair Lawn and previously lived in Ridgefield, is running Polkadot Cupcake Shop in Nutley after a career in human resources.
"I was burnt out and baking was stress relief. I was in HR and was hired to let everyone go. That was the last two jobs I had, getting rid of people."
Now she's firing up a commercial oven instead of firing people, and even got to hire some help.
She and two part-time employees bake to order everything from gourmet cookies and cupcakes to extravagant wedding cakes.
"It's so crazy. I get to do what I love and get paid for it."
"Nutley is the first time I have my very own production space. Eventually, it will be a retail space too," she said, noting she.converted it from an office. "When I first started selling, I was in an incubator space where you pay by the hour. This is the first time I won't have to write a check to another baker."
She started the business in 2011, part time and slowly. "In 2012, it became my everything."
Her family chips in too. Her two-year-old daughter loves to come to the shop and sweep the floor. "And sample. She has a sweet tooth like no other. We introduced her early."
Her husband urged her to start the business -- he felt her cakes were the best he's ever had -- and as a graphic designer handles her branding.
"He also helps with last minute deliveries. He once carried a 200-pound wedding cake in an Uber," she said. "He's also he’s my taste taster and helps me when I have my moments of doubt."
Polkadot Cupcake Shop has an award-winning food truck that serves as its retail outlet. The Meadowlands Food Truck Mashup in June is one of their biggest events.
She said she still gets a happy thrill when people place orders, like a wedding cake. "It's so crazy. I get to do what I love and get paid for it."
Helping others through her business is also an added bonus that gives her a feeling of deep satisfaction. "I'm grateful I can use the business for good, whether it’s giving a cake or gift certificate."
She recently created a special cake for Lil Ryu, a Little Ferry boy with cancer who was in the hospital on his birthday last month.
Murray is hoping to get the Nutley retail side operating in the spring but is ready to start cake decorating birthday parties for kids this month.
Kids ages five and up will be shown basic decorating techniques and how to roll out fondant and make their own cut outs.
"They decorate either their cupcakes or cake depending on the party that's been booked, and they also collectively decorate a cake for the birthday girl or boy," she said. "We include pizza, drinks and the cake that's been decorated is served. Their cakes/cupcakes are boxed up to take home and enjoy. Parents are welcome to stay but we suggest they go enjoy their two hours of free time."
She's also aiming for a cookie or cupcake decorating class for kids around Valentine’s day.
For more information see the Polkadot Cupcake Shop's Facebook page or call (551) 333-3195.