First we picked the Bad Kisser, then we moved on to the Hot Mess. Because we still couldn’t get enough, we singled out the Rebel and then zoned in on the People Pleaser.
No, it wasn’t a casting call for a reality dating show—just a cupcake tasting inside IveyCake’s 160-square-foot bakery in downtown Franklin. Connected to Franklin Mercantile Deli on Fourth Avenue North, the shop is a tiny haven bursting with sugary confections and gourmet cupcakes. Though Ivey Childers opened the space in 2008, she’s already created a favorite stop for both celebrities (ahem, Scotty McCreery and Jo Dee Messina) and regular folk alike.
“I put a lot of heart into my ingredients. I think people love that there are so many personal touches,” she said. “Everything’s homemade, and you can taste the difference in the cupcake.”
Childers’ shop boasts more than 20 rotating varieties of the made-from-scratch treats, each offering up the perfect balance of cake and icing. There are her everyday kinds, like red velvet (Break Up), salted caramel (Beach Bum), banana walnut (Crazy Ex) and strawberry (Big Dreams)—each coated with a generous dollop of cream cheese or butter cream frosting, some drizzled in rich ganaché and others topped with various sweets. And then there are seasonal offerings, like the coffee and rum-soaked tiramisu Dancing Queen, the apple spice and butterscotch Spoiled Rotten or the gingerbread Double Dog Dare.
“I think one of my favorite parts is naming each one,” Childers said of the memorable tags. “It’s got to be sort of sassy. I want it to make people go, ‘oh, my sister’ or ‘that is so me.’”
Two rows over, an elementary-age girl wearing a Battle Ground Academy sweatshirt chimes in, holding up her Sweetie Pie cupcake.
“Oh yeah!” she said. “This is so me.”
“See?” Childers laughed. “See what I mean?”
The Texan native hasn’t always been an expert with flour and flavors. Before she took up baking, she worked at a record label, in a dentist office and as a spokesperson for a skincare center. It wasn’t until she relocated to Nashville 13 years ago that she began practicing with recipes as an outlet from the daily grind.
“I just picked baking and started playing around, creating different combinations based off of recipe books. My first love was cake,” she said. “I never thought that I’d open a bakery, but people started asking me to do baby showers and birthday parties. I think after a little bit, my phone always rang for the weekends.”
Childers, who didn’t grow up in the kitchen and never showed interest in cooking as a child, said it was a two-year process that led to the development of the business and so many cupcake options.
“I spent every moment I could experimenting and taking risks with my own ideas,” she said. “It was trial and error. One day, I was trying to figure out how to make a great strawberry cake. After several miserable attempts, I finally just went to bed frustrated. That night I dreamt step-by-step how to do it, and it’s still one of the most requested cupcakes on the menu.”
For Childers, there’s joy in watching her guests enjoy her creations.
“I never get tired of hearing people say they loved my cupcakes,” she said. “I’m like the grandmother on the Wedding Singer who makes the meatballs. You know, ‘I want to watch you eat it!’”
Though Childers only opened a brick-and-mortar four years ago, she’s already planted a second location in Brentwood—and found tremendous success outside the shop: she appeared on the sixth episode of Food Channel’s Cupcake Wars, has been featured in the likes of Us Weekly and People Magazine, and recently nabbed ‘Best Bakery’ honors in the 2012 Toast of Music City. Oh, and did we mention she created Carrie Underwood’s 2010 wedding cupcake tier?
“My husband [Mark] is Carrie’s bass player and music director,” said Ivey, who was also a bridesmaid in the wedding. “When she announced that I was doing her cake, my website received 500,000 hits. It crashed the site!”
Though Childers said she is always thinking of new ideas to grow the business—a reality TV show may be in the near future—she said she always hopes to keep her original location.
“Having something in downtown Franklin always seemed like a dream. When I first realized I got to be part of such a historical place, it was like ‘nooo, that couldn’t happen to me,’” she said. “I hope I never leave this little spot. It’s my signature store, it all started here.
“I have my name on the wall in downtown Franklin. There’s so much pride in that.”
For information on IveyCake or Childers, go to www.iveycake.com or visit 100 Fourth Avenue North.
This is part of a series on merchants in Downtown Franklin.