Naperville cake studio mixes tech into custom designs

 
 
Updated 1/30/2018 4:54 PM
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  • Beth Fahey owns the new Creative Cakes Design Studio in Naperville with her sister, Becky Palermo. The design center opened last week as a consultation location for Creative Cakes Bakery & Cafe in Tinley Park, which the sisters have owned since 2003.

      Beth Fahey owns the new Creative Cakes Design Studio in Naperville with her sister, Becky Palermo. The design center opened last week as a consultation location for Creative Cakes Bakery & Cafe in Tinley Park, which the sisters have owned since 2003. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Beth Fahey of Creative Cakes Design Studio in Naperville uses an iPad and a TV screen to display social media photos of cakes her customers provide as inspiration and then to design her own creations. The downtown Naperville design studio opened last week.

      Beth Fahey of Creative Cakes Design Studio in Naperville uses an iPad and a TV screen to display social media photos of cakes her customers provide as inspiration and then to design her own creations. The downtown Naperville design studio opened last week. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Putting Apple Pencil to iPad, Beth Fahey of Creative Cakes Design Studio in Naperville sketches designs during in-person consultations with her customers, then projects them onto a TV screen for a larger view.

      Putting Apple Pencil to iPad, Beth Fahey of Creative Cakes Design Studio in Naperville sketches designs during in-person consultations with her customers, then projects them onto a TV screen for a larger view. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Creative Cakes Design Studio in Naperville allows customers of Creative Cakes Bakery & Cafe in Tinley Park to schedule design consultations using an iPad to sketch the look of the custom cake they'd like.

      Creative Cakes Design Studio in Naperville allows customers of Creative Cakes Bakery & Cafe in Tinley Park to schedule design consultations using an iPad to sketch the look of the custom cake they'd like. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

An Apple Pencil, an iPad, a TV screen and some creative juices are the main ingredients in a new Naperville cake shop -- before butter, flour or sugar even enter the mix.

Creative Cakes Design Studio, which opened last week at 55 S. Main St., Suite 355 in downtown Naperville, is a consultation space that allows customers to help owners Beth Fahey and Becky Palermo sketch, quote and create the cake of their dreams.

Sisters Fahey and Palermo, who "come from a family of artists and geeks," have owned Creative Cakes Bakery & Cafe in Tinley Park since 2003 and said they wanted a Western suburban location because many of their customers come from DuPage County.

So on the third floor of the Main Street Promenade, next to the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, the design studio is welcoming customers to turn ideas into cakes.

During in-person consultations, Fahey looks at pictures customers found on social sites such as Pinterest, uses her Apple Pencil and iPad to sketch a similar design, then projects it onto a TV screen. She said this technology-oriented process allows millennial brides and grooms to involve their parents in selecting details and to get the right blend of online convenience and in-person service.

"It's a much more involved process with everyone being able to participate," Fahey said. "We can all get creative together."

Fahey, who is also president of Retail Bakers of America, said many bakeries don't provide quotes by email or incorporate social media. But Creative Cakes Design Studio has thousands of images in Flickr albums and on Pinterest and also promotes its masterpieces on a Facebook page.

"What we do best is custom cakes," she said -- even in wacky shapes like kayaks or babies. "Essentially, we're being commissioned to create art."

The bakery sets cake prices per serving, with its most basic designs costing $5 a slice.

"That helps today's bride, who tends to be a little bit more cost-conscious," Fahey said.

While the Naperville design studio is new, the business is established, having opened in 1989 in Tinley Park.

Palermo joined in 1991 as a decorator at the shop known for its scratch-made Italian meringue buttercream icing, which the owners describe as "very light, not super-sweet or heavy." The sisters took over in 2003 and still operate a bakery and cafe in Tinley Park with 30 employees.

Future plans include opening a production facility along I-355 and improving logistics to speed cake delivery to the Western suburbs.

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