The Cupcake Rack was established in 2013.
The Cupcake Rack
In August of 2012, Chelsea, my youngest daughter, and I were throwing a baby shower for my daughter, Shaanon. I wanted to contribute something unique, not just an ordinary cake for the party and was drawn to the creative and delicious display of a cupcake bouquet. Being the budget happy person that I am, I almost went into shock when I heard the cost of the delicious display! And being the type of person who thinks I can just do it myself, I decided to make my own cupcake bouquet! Shopping for the necessary items, a Styrofoam ball, toothpicks, flower pot, ribbon, bow, tape, and more, and then trying to assemble this huge, time-consuming mess of items by sticking cupcakes onto toothpicks and expecting them to stay (let alone eating cupcakes stuck with toothpicks-yuck), I came to the conclusion that this baby shower would end up with a regular cake, but I would end up with an invention!
As a busy wife, mother, and grandmother who works a full time job and also runs a home business, time is in short supply. Lacking the skills of professional cake decorating, I was intrigued at the idea of inventing a cupcake bouquet rack that makes it extremely easy for ANYONE to create a beautiful cupcake bouquet.
Oh boy, this was getting exciting! I finally had an idea of something that I believed would be well loved in many households. This could be it! The big idea! This could be the idea that changes my future. And instead of allowing this idea to become fleeting, as most ideas are if you don’t know what to do with them, I made the decision that I was going to figure out how to take this idea and make it happen!
In my mind, The Cupcake Rack was an extremely simple solution to the problem I was solving. The envisioned rack was simply a holder of cupcakes that should be easily manufactured out of plastic and be machine-washable. No problem. It was August then and I figured I could get it on the shelf by Christmas! (Yes, I was very naïve!)
A prototype was necessary to begin the inventing process. After many headaches and quite a few wasted dollars (learn as you go!), one night while I was in tears because I couldn’t find anyone to build my prototype, my brilliant husband told me he would make it for me. Thank the good Lord! My husband can make anything when he puts his mind to it!
As a super-fan of Shark Tank, I knew that I needed to protect myself if I wanted to take this unique idea from fruition all the way to the homes of American families and beyond. I realized I needed to file a patent. A patent? Hmmm. I wondered what the difference is between all the options they kept talking about on Shark Tank…Provisional Application, Design, Utility. I don’t know. But, Google does! Research time!
Researching patents led me to the decision that my goal was to acquire a Utility Patent because they seem to hold more weight than Design Patents. Beginning with a Provisional Application for immediate protection, I wanted to be sure my patent application was filled out correctly so I would not jeopardize my chances of becoming approved by the patent examiner. Therefore, I hired an attorney to write up the Provisional Application and then the Utility Patent Application. PS Within a year my Utility Patent was approved!
By now a couple of months have passed and I only have a prototype and a patent application filed. Maybe my lofty goal of getting my product on the shelf by Christmas was a little unreasonable. Silly Lizzy!
With the prototype finished, I was thoroughly enjoying testing it out and playing with it. The very first cupcake bouquet I made with the prototype was a fall display with a cute scarecrow ornament. I learned through research on Google, of course, that with the right tools anyone can easily create a beautiful cupcake bouquet and decorate the cupcakes to look like flowers.
At this point I needed to find a manufacturer. I wanted to keep my manufacturing in America. I truly believe in supporting Americans with work opportunities. But, after much, and I mean much, effort, I could not find even one company that would attempt to make The Cupcake Rack, let alone manufacture it for me. The Cupcake Rack is made of iron and requires a lot of iron work and welding. I really and truly could not find anyone here in America to accomplish this task.
I decided then to look abroad. I remembered the name of a website, Alibaba.com, given to me by one of my niece’s friends, of qualified and trustworthy manufacturers overseas. I perused the website and looked for a number of years worked as well as a good star rating for a manufacturer of iron or metal cupcake racks and similar items. Emailing a few companies, I came across my beloved John Tu. He responded to my emails and said he could manufacture my product. Keeping in close contact, I placed an order with him for a 20’ container filled with my future---3400 cupcake racks! John Tu and I have kept in close contact and I consider him like family to me. Someday we will meet face to face.
It was now time to find a shipper to ship my cargo from Hong Kong to Portland, Oregon. I got lucky by choosing a great shipper who handled all the import and tax paperwork for me, as well as handling all the shipping from Hong Kong all the way to my doorstep in Sheridan, Oregon. Can’t go wrong with that!
So what’s next! Oh, a website! I needed to sell my cupcake rack somewhere and I wanted a simple, yet elegant, website displaying my cupcake rack. To save money, I was trying to do most of the work myself with inventing The Cupcake Rack, but having a beautiful website was very important and I didn’t have the skill to build it myself. I hired a very well-known company to build my website for me. After two months of poor results and a website that was completely unattractive, I told them I wanted my money back because they were not abiding by their contract. They told me they were going to keep $200 for fees, but would refund the rest of the $1200. Uh, no! After a bit of back and forth debating, I was given a full refund. Disappointed at the results of hiring a company that I thought was the best, I decided to build my website myself. I’d just have to figure out how. That’s OK. I’m learnable! Let me know what you think: www.TheCupcakeRack.com
We’ve moved now to early spring of 2013. This whole process began in August 2012. I guess I kinda missed my Christmas deadline! That’s OK. I don’t know when I’ve had so much fun.
The year was starting off great. My grandson, Little Roy (named after his Papa) was now six months old, my step-daughter gave birth to her youngest son in February, and my youngest daughter just gave birth to her baby daughter in late March. Easter was here. The best day of the year as our savior has risen!
Shaanon had split up with the dad of her baby and was now living with a guy who we would get to know a little better at brunch, after Easter service. I don’t know, I tried to like him, but I just didn’t warm up to him that much.
A few days later, I was staying up in Oregon City for a few days with my youngest daughter to bond with my beautiful new granddaughter. She is precious! I can’t stop kissing her!
I was there for a couple of days and planned on heading home on Friday, April 5, because my son-in-law would be home for the weekend, and then I would come back Monday for a few more days. That is, until the phone rang on Friday morning…
Roy called and told Chelsea and me that Little Roy was being life-flighted to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon. He was unconscious and it was really bad. Shaanon’s boyfriend was babysitting and said the baby had fallen off the couch.
Immediately, I fell to the ground, prostrating myself to the Lord, begging for the life of my grandson. "Please Jesus, don’t take him away. Please God, let us keep our baby." Tears were streaming down my face. Chelsea kept her cool as she told me that she would drive us to the hospital. She had an eight day old baby and we were rushing to the hospital to meet the helicopter carrying six month old baby Roy, unconscious and barely alive. Incomprehensible. I didn’t understand.
At Doernbecher, we were told that Little Roy would not survive. When he was taken to Santiam Hospital in Stayton by the guy who was babysitting, his body had already cooled down and he was unresponsive. His skull was fractured and his brain swelling on all sides. His leg was broken and one lung was collapsed. Our precious baby boy already had one foot in Heaven’s door. We were heart-broken. There were no words.
Soon, at the hospital were Chelsea and I, along with her baby girl, Brooklyn, Chelsea’s husband, Jesse, Shaanon and Roy. We were taken to a small room where the doctors could come in and keep us close at hand when news was to be delivered. They kept us together in the small room anticipating the worst.
Dr. Baird, our Neurosurgeon, told us that Little Roy’s brain was swelling and it would continue to swell for 72 hours. His little skull was not big enough to house this swelling brain. They would relieve some of the pressure by inserting a couple of tubes to help the fluids drain, but if the swelling continues on this path, they’d have to remove part of the skull to give it room to grow. Dr. Baird continued that with the injuries sustained by the baby, the chances of him surviving were minimal to none. Really, there was no hope.
But then again, he wasn’t supposed to survive the flight on the helicopter, and he did! There was hope! Shaanon and I had hope!
For three long days we prayed, and prayed, and prayed. We were given little hope from the doctors, actually we were encouraged not to have hope. They’ve seen these kinds of injuries much too often and know the outcome. But we had God! God can do anything, even save Little Roy!
After the crucial three days, Roy was still alive. Then we were told that if he wakes up, and that’s a big if, he would be a vegetable. If he survives, we would end up caring for him as he grows, but he would not be able to respond to us at all. He would never eat or breathe on his own; he’d never smile, laugh, know us, or tell us he loves us. He’d be a vegetable.
But we had hope! We had God!
So while this is all going on, I had a manufacturer in China ready to load my cargo and a freight forwarder ready to bring my cargo to Oregon. I couldn’t stop that process. So I told John Tu and Angel, my shipper, what was going on with my family. From that point on, they kept in contact with each other, organizing the shipment together, emailing me information and telling me there was no need to respond, they would take care of everything! The emails were just so I had updates about the entire shipment. They prayed for us and sent their love and support and kept my order on track without me having to do anything. I love them so much! You can see why I consider John Tu my family!
We had thousands of people from around the world praying for us. Social media makes it possible to share information so quickly that God was hearing prayers around the clock. I think He finally just said, "OK, OK, enough already! Little Roy will survive!"
After about six brain surgeries, eye surgery, five weeks in the hospital, an E.coli infection, and much more, we were able to bring our baby home.
We were given a miracle. Little Roy is now two and a half and he’s a living miracle! He breathes and eats on his own; he talks and laughs and teases, he walks with a walker, but will run like the wind someday! He is pure joy and LOVE! Shaanon is acing Nursing School and is planning a bright future for them both.
The person who hurt Little Roy is in prison until 2023. Surely not long enough! Had we not been given a miracle, this guy would have been up for murder instead of just Assault 1. I guess he was given a gift as well.
The order for The Cupcake Rack was done and I was following my ship, the Hanjin London, online as it carried my cargo across the ocean. Researching how a ship gets from the coast at Astoria inland to Portland, I found that to cross the treacherous Columbia River Bar, a specialty pilot is helicoptered out to sea, to the vessel making the crossing, and he pilots the ship across the bar. Then, a Columbia River Pilot steers the ship all the way to Portland.
I was so excited about the Hanjin London and my container aboard that on the day my ship was to make it’s crossing from the Pacific to the Columbia River, I decided to be there and literally ‘watch my ship come in’!
I now sell The Cupcake Rack on my website, www.TheCupcakeRack.com, and on Etsy.com and have extremely satisfied customers. I enjoy receiving pictures of their cupcake bouquets using The Cupcake Rack and I post them on my website on the Creations by You page. They’re wonderful!
At the beginning of this journey, I didn’t really know if I wanted to retail The Cupcake Rack myself or try to find a license for it. Currently, I’m selling it myself, but aggressively looking for a licensing partner.
While perusing options online, I found a website that makes it easy for anyone to submit an idea without going through all the steps that I took. At www.EdisonNation.com, submitting an idea is affordable. They are trustworthy and pretty much addictive! FUN!
The journey of inventing The Cupcake Rack has been one of the best in my life. It’s been exciting, challenging, educational, and FUN!
And all the events of the last two years have been mind-blowing…
~An idea brought to life
~An approved Utility Patent
~Another invention licensed
~And many wonderful prayer warriors supporting my family
God has truly blessed us!