Finance Alumna Teams up with Best Friend to bring you ‘Cuptails’


Akemi Lee (left) and Hanayo Martin (right), founders of Hapa Cupcakes.

Hapa Cupcakes was started by two childhood best friends seeking a business venture with a twist on the original cupcake.

Mihaylo alumnus Akemi Lee, finance ’10, and Hanayo Martin, advertising ’11, created Hapa Cupcakes to provide a more fun and provocative cupcake shop compared to the average shop.

“Many bakeries that you go into are more streamlined, polished and cutesy, (but) we want a store that’s a little bit sexy (and) more fun,” Lee told the OC Register. “Kind of like when you go into a bar, people are always talking and sitting on barstools and there’s a different environment than a cupcake shop.”

Hapa Cupcakes is not your traditional cupcake shop; the twist to the sweet treats is alcohol. They currently have five alcohol infused cupcakes on their menu with a new creation on the way.  Each contains a 24th of a teaspoon of liquor, just enough to add taste though not enough to cause inebriation.

The three top selling alcohol infused cupcakes are the Chocolate Jameson (flavored with Irish Jameson Whiskey), the Cinnamon Café Kahlua (includes Kahlua rum and coffee liqueur), and the Velvet Red Stiletto (which is the traditional red velvet cupcake flavored with red wine).

In addition to their signature alcohol infused cupcakes, Hapa Cupcakes has six nonalcoholic gourmet cupcakes on the menu.

Both Lee and Martin bake the cupcakes from scratch. Martin, who has been baking since middle school, does more of the creative work behind the business like designing the sweets. Lee focuses more on the marketing and the business side of the company.

The meaning behind the name “Hapa” Cupcakes relates to Lee and Martin: “Hapa means half-Asian and half-white,” Lee said. “Both of our moms are Japanese and our fathers are Caucasian. We wanted to mix our culture into our cupcakes.”

Aside from providing unique cupcake combinations, Lee and Martin are also active members of the community. The Hapa duo has donated 100 nonalcoholic cupcakes to St. Jude Medical Center’s Nicky’s Week, a fundraiser for children with cancer and participated in a BrideWorld Expo.

Their short term goal was to create a business combining cupcakes with a sophisticated bar atmosphere. They are now working towards their long term-goal of owning their own shop. Lee and Martin are currently sharing a space with a catering company but look forward to owning their own place by April.

Their advice for entrepreneurs?  Never give up. “We have gone thru our share of challenges and obstacles but we are determined to make our dream of owning our own bakery a reality!”

If you want to try a sweet treat with a little pizazz, visit their website and place an order. You can also follow along their success train through Facebook and Twitter! And be on the lookout for Hapa Cupcakes Alcohol Infused Dessert lounge!

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