Last summer, we welcomed local baker Jeney Christensen and her business, Peney Cakes, to the downtown Fergus Falls business community. As any business owner knows, the first year of business can be incredibly challenging — even without a pandemic! But, that hasn’t stopped Christensen from growing Peney Cakes into a thriving business. Now, she’s getting ready to start serving the Fergus Falls area in an exciting new way. Keep reading to learn more about her business journey and the new addition to Peney Cakes!
Peney Cakes Goes Mobile
Peney Cakes made its debut in downtown Fergus Falls last June when Christensen collaborated with the Hastings family to open a temporary pop-up shop at Sugarbomb. The flexibility offered by the pop-up shop model has played a significant role in the growth Peney Cakes has experienced.
Christensen says it gave her the opportunity to get a feel for entrepreneurship without investing a lot of money or committing to a long-term location upfront. “The low-cost, low-commitment operation allowed me to really learn what worked for my business without having to take out huge loans or dip into my operational funds more than I was comfortable with.”
At the end of the summer, downtown business owner Jen Werkau invited Christensen to set up another pop-up and pickup location in her store, Creative Handmade Goods. After the success of her first pop-up shop, Christensen was happy to accept. It’s safe to say that decision has worked out in her favor!
“Ever since my first pop-up last summer, I have taken a lot of big leaps in growing Peney Cakes closer to what I have always dreamed it to be,” she says. With two successful pop-ups under her belt and the help of Chelsey Beilhartz at Sweetie’s Raw Desserts and Ben and Tessa Schierer, Christensen began making arrangements to move production out of her home and into the commercial kitchen at the Schierer’s new restaurant, Toast.
Those aren’t the only big moves Christensen has been making, though! In addition to starting the process to obtain a commercial retail license, she’s about to make one of her biggest dreams come true: launching a Peney Cakes cupcake trailer. While it has always been her ultimate goal, she expected it to happen further down the road. Now, with the grand opening just around the corner, that dream is closer than ever.
“When the Hastings family approached me about collaborating with Sugarbomb and starting my own pop-up, I had no idea how it would alter the path Peney Cakes had been on. The food trailer was always a 5-year plan kind of thing, and here I am just a little over a year away from that first grand opening and seeing an actual dream become a reality.”
Christensen plans to sell individual cupcakes, brownies, and cookies out of the trailer and is looking forward to serving her customers in new and creative ways. The mobile nature of the cupcake trailer will allow her to bring what she calls her "Sugary Empire of Joy" to more of the Fergus Falls region, including local breweries, block parties, weddings, and more.
Fostering Growth Through Community
Christensen credits much of her business growth to the support system she’s built. She was an early participant in Greater Fergus Falls’ Entrepreneur Initiative and has continued to form connections with like-minded entrepreneurs ever since. Without the support and guidance of people like the Schierers, Beilhartz, the Werkaus, and countless others, Christensen doesn’t think Peney Cakes would be where it is today.
“It can be hard as an entrepreneur to ask for help a lot of the time; there is this myth of fierce independence and a ‘by your own bootstraps’ mentality that permeates business ownership. But it’s just that — a myth … Surround yourself with good people, find a community that believes in you, and you can’t not succeed.”
Peney Cakes will celebrate the launch of its cupcake trailer with a ribbon-cutting in the Chamber of Commerce parking lot at 11:30 am on Friday, August 27th. Those who can’t make it to the ribbon cutting can catch the Peney Cakes cupcake trailer for the official grand opening at Fergus Brewing Company on Saturday, August 28th. The fun starts at 3:30 with cupcakes, brownies, cookies, and other treats available for individual sale.
Special thanks to Jeney Christensen for sharing her journey and big news with the Greater Fergus Falls team. We’re looking forward to checking out the new cupcake trailer and can’t wait to see what’s next for Peney Cakes! To stay up to date with the latest news, menu, and schedule, visit PeneyCakes.com or follow along on social media.