What started as another source of income for Millie Peartree to help raise her four siblings after their mom died in 2006 flourished into one of New York’s high-end pastry establishments.
Peartree, founder and owner of Millie Peartree Cupcakes and More, has catered to a multitude of celebrities. Entertainers such as Alicia Keys and her husband Swizz Beatz to journalist Gayle King and actor Nick Cannon are a few of Peartree’s faithful clients. She managed to start her own pastry company and build a loyal clientele – all while working at Viacom in advertising sales.
Graduating from the State University of New York –Institute of Technology, with a degree in sociology in 2004, Peartree had hopes of becoming an attorney. But, when her mother passed in 2006 from cancer, it was cooking and baking – a favorite pastime of hers – that took the cake.
So, when Viacom hosted their annual bake off in November 2009, Peartree entered without hesitation. After great feedback from her colleagues, Peartree started her company a month later.
“Cooking has always been my passion,” Peartree recalls. “So, I went back to something where I felt comfortable and something that I’ve always done with my mom. It was a good way to share that bonding experience I had with my mother and my younger brothers and sisters.”
Now, at the age of 32, Peartree is an entrepreneur, celebrity baker, sister, employee of Viacom and primary caregiver of her siblings – Tyreek, 19, and Christina, 21 and 18 year-old twins Taliyah, and Darnelle.
As Peartree’s clientele began to grow, so have the responsibilities of her brothers and sisters. Cupcakes and More became more of a family business.
“The unique part about this is Tyreek and Christina are severely autistic,” said Peartree. “They say autistic people feel and observe everything. They’re great in that aspect because they want to help. They come into my kitchen, lift boxes and package cupcakes – and they enjoy doing it.” “People with disabilities,” Peartree added, “can actually do things. They’re not limited.”
Despite the different business hats Peartree wears, her secret ingredient to life is balance and patience.
“Life is about balance,” Peartree says. “You can work two jobs and do this. I work my days out and I bake at night. Don’t think you have to jump out the window and quit your job.”
And for those who want to start their own business, Peartree insists, “There’s no shortcut. There’s no quick fix to it. Hold steadfast and use your adversities as a stepping-stone to continue to reach for the stars. And be patient with it!”
She also advises budding entrepreneurs to find a mentor in each aspect of their business.
Now, five years later, Peartree has managed to obtain over 40 corporate clients. She’s catered for Yankee Stadium, Mary J. Blige, and Naomi Campbell. And while Peartree works on building her clientele, the entrepreneur hopes to launch a Millie Peartree Cupcakes and More pop-up store in the near future.
When times get hard, Peartree reminds herself of a simple Bible verse: “To whom much is given, much is required.”
Pastry and cupcake enthusiasts can go to Peartree’s website to place orders, view her latest creations or create their own personalized cupcake.