Three Girls Cupcake Shoppe thrives on Berea’s community atmosphere

Gourmet bakery co-owner Maria Brenders values community, not competition

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Austin Patterson, The Exponent

Three Girls Cupcake Shoppe opened its location on Front Street in Berea in 2020.

Located right in the heart of Baldwin Wallace University’s campus on Front Street, Three Girls Cupcake Shoppe has been a go-to for students and families since its store opened two-and-a-half years ago, and its owner, Maria Brenders, credits the Berea community.  

“Everybody in this city just wants to see everyone succeed,” said Maria Brenders, owner of Three Girls Cupcake Shoppe.  

Founded by Brenders, the gourmet bakery is run by three women: Brenders, the owner, baker and cake decorator; Allison Kemple, the bakery manager; and Melissa Hancock, baker and dessert artist.  

Brenders had the idea for the business when she and her family started a cupcake stand at their home in Berea in order to help fund her young daughter’s wish to travel to Texas. From there, Brenders continued to bake, created a Facebook page and eventually founded the business that we know today.   

Since coming to Front Street, Brenders said that the other businesses, especially fellow women-owned businesses, have been “nothing but kind.” Other women-owned businesses in the area include The Shoppe, Igloo Frozen Yogurt and Treats and Mootown Creamery. Owning a business as a woman is often difficult, but the women in the area band together to lend a hand.   

“Anglea’s [of Mootown Creamery] freezer went out and her ice cream was going to melt, so we went over there and brought all the ice cream over here,” Brenders said.  

Brenders said that the resource-sharing she has been enjoying with local women-owned businesses has contrasted with negative experiences she has had in dealing with male business owners.  

“When it comes to trying to collaborate with other [male-owned] businesses … I have found myself in positions where they just make advances,” Brenders said. “Sometimes they’re very blunt, and it’s shocking.”    

Brenders said that she has experienced difficulties with being judged and stereotyped for her appearance for being a short blonde woman.  

“The stereotype is that maybe you can come off ditzy,” Brenders said, which makes business deals difficult to navigate when one party is not taking the other seriously.   

“It’s really shocking how much I’ve come across that, just trying to be a woman in business,” Brenders said. “I truly believe it’s tougher for women to make it in this industry.”   

Three Girls partners with OhioGuidestone, a behavioral and mental health service with a location in Berea that offers several different services to those in need. Currently, Three Girls serves as a drop-off center for those willing to donate to the cause — things such as gift cards, toys, groceries and clothing are welcome.   

“We really are about community, not competition,” Brenders said.   

When it comes to advice for hopeful female business owners, Brenders said: “[Oftentimes] you’ll come across a lot more critics than you will positive feedback … focus on your goal and the people that support you and continue to stay strong.”