Jealous? You should be because Cindy is living your dream. After earning her marketing degree from Marquette University and spending years in the corporate world, she is now following her own path and working for herself. Her pastry shop, Sugar Fixé (pronounced ‘fix’) Pâtisserie located on Marion Street in Oak Park, creates delicious pastries that combine classic European traditions with American styles. Sugar Fixé’s macarons were voted best in Chicago by Serious Eats and her delectable almond croissant has even been featured on the Food Network.
I sat down with Cindy to learn her delicious secrets and gain some insight on how she came upon such sweet success.
Kari – Cindy, what gave you the courage to finally pursue your dream?
Cindy Summers – Starting my own business was always in the back of my mind. I could have stayed at [corporate] but I was itching for a different environment. Baking has been a hobby since I was young. Plus, I enjoy eating pastries!
Kari – What practical steps did you take to achieve your goal?
Cindy Summers – When I left my corporate position I enrolled in the French Pastry School and completed the 6 month long full-time program while simultaneously building the space here in Oak Park for Sugar Fixé.
Kari – What has helped you to reach success?
Cindy Summers – People ask all the time if we’re a chain. That’s a great sign! We give extra attention to the quality of our pastries, coffee, and espresso. There are many bakeries, even in our area, but our style is unique. Our focus is on freshness. We make everything here – fresh every day. It can be difficult to balance having enough to display without creating waste at the end of the day. For the sake of freshness, we end up donating a lot of what’s left over instead of selling it the next day. We eat a lot of it ourselves too!
Kari – Your pastry shop is such a large part of the community here. Do you have any tips for others who are looking to pursue a path similar to yours?
Cindy Summers – Understand who your customer is and make sure that the product you’re offering caters to the demographic of the people in your area. You see businesses open with products that are maybe overpriced for the area or their quality is too low for the neighborhood and their customer wants something better. It’s imperative that you find the right combination.
Kari – Lastly, we’re very particular when it comes to our coffee (see ‘4 reasons why my neighborhood café cup is better than your corporate cup’). What type of espresso and American coffee do you brew here?
Cindy Summers – We use only [popular Viennese brand] Julius Meinl. Their representatives have ensured we are educated in traditional Vienna coffee preparation. So, we take our coffee very seriously too.
Visit Sugar Fixé in Oak Park at 119 N Marion Street
or online at www.sugarfixe.com