Tell us about your business.My late father, Stu Mikelberg had a delectable cheesecake recipe. Some of my happiest childhood memories are the times we spent around the table enjoying his cheesecake. Wanting to add my own flair, I changed the recipe when I baked the cake for a gathering. Something unexpected happened. Everyone bonded over the delicious Stu's Cheesecake. They raved about how sweet, light and creamy it was. Thoroughly surprised and delighted, I decided to share Stu's Cheesecake with the world. I started my business on October 12, 2012. 17 days later, I lost most of my possessions in Hurricane Sandy. I have persevered ever since the storm. Stu's Cheesecake is currently online and at restaurants with our first store in the planning stages.
Tell us about your workspace, shop, or studio.I work out of a rented commercial kitchen space and am currently looking for investors to open my first store. My ideal workspace would be a custom kitchen with several double ovens. My favorite workspace is my own kitchen. I love being in there, baking cheesecake.
What inspires you?With each obstacle and success comes a new growth opportunity. My father was a larger than life character and I've spent my life following his example. He always wanted to open his own restaurant, a dream I am determined to make come true. I am taking his love for family, friends and food... adding my own passion and putting it all into Stu's Cheesecake. Another inspiration is to be of service. I donate cakes to many non-profit organizations. I create tasty delights, which bring joy into people's lives. Everybody loves Stu's Cheesecake! Stu's has been served at parties, corporate and fundraising events. The delight and rave reviews from everyone who tastes Stu's Cheesecake brings me joy and inspiration.
What makes your business stand out?It's our process. Every Stu's Cheesecake is baked especially for you, one cake at a time. We want Stu's to be a very personal experience. We accomplish this with our product and our story. Each cheesecake is accompanied with a "Letter of Vintage". Our customers know the date and time their cake emerged from the oven. We are unwavering in our dedication to bring quality and excellence to our customers.
What advice would you give an aspiring creative entrepreneur?Finding a small business counselor is important, often available at little or no cost. The Entrepreneur Space, a small business incubator in Queens, NY provides assistance in every aspect of growing my business. Reaching out to others in your field can provide support. I find that nothing brings people more pleasure than the opportunity to share their experience. Dream big and bring every aspect of your creativity to a project. You never know from where your next great idea will come.
What does American Made mean to you?It means having the opportunity to take my passion and talent and expressing it in my own way. It is as important for me to inspire others with the story behind Stu's Cheesecake as it is with the cake itself. I am proud to be a small batch baker, creating custom-made cakes. Stu would be proud and happy you were enjoying something he had a hand in creating. That it was being presented to you by his son would make his pride and happiness infinite. To embrace that dream and create a successful business is, for me the very definition of the term, "American Made."
Mark Your Calendar
NominationsJune 3–Aug. 29, 2014
Nominate yourself or other aspiring makers.
JudgingJune 23–Sept. 9, 2014
Judges will select finalists throughout this period.Meet the judges
Online VotingSept. 15–Oct. 13, 2014
Vote for your favorite American makers.Vote now
Winners AnnouncedOct. 17, 2014
2014 Award Winners and Audience Choice Winner announced.See past Award Winners
American Made EventNov. 7–8, 2014
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