'Sugar Hooker' Hopes to Break Houston's Kickstarter Curse by Raising 50K for Bakery

Photo from Kickstarter
Pastry chef Rebecca Masson is seeking funds through Kickstarter to open a permanent bakery.
After three years of operating a sizable baking business on an eight-foot table in the kitchen of Kraftsman Baking, Rebecca Masson was ready for a little more elbow room.

She's the creator and owner of Fluff Bake Bar, a company that makes cakes, cookies, cupcakes and other baked goods, and she has achieved enough success to warrant a space of her own. Masson, who uses the nicknames "Sugar Fairy" and "Sugar Hooker," stocks her products in shops and restaurants around town, but with the business growing, she needs a storefront and another employee.

Instead of turning to the bank or investors, though, Masson turned to Kickstarter, a crowdfunding website that's been gaining popularity among would-be restaurateurs across the country. Here's how the outfit defines itself:

Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. Everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. Kickstarter is full of ambitious, innovative, and imaginative projects that are brought to life through the direct support of others. Every project creator sets their project's funding goal and deadline. If people like the project, they can pledge money to make it happen. If the project succeeds in reaching its funding goal, all backers' credit cards are charged when time expires. If the project falls short, no one is charged. Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing.

There's the catch, and the thought that sometimes runs through Masson's head as she works toward her goal: If she doesn't raise $50,000 by 10:04 a.m. on December 19, she gets nothing.

Photo from Kickstarter
James Nelson and Jeremiah Tallerine got Bravado Spice Co. up and running through Kickstarter.
Another Houston business has successfully run a Kickstarter campaign and is continuing to reap the rewards. James Nelson and Jeremiah Tallerine solicited funding from the community a little more than a year ago in order to start their company, Bravado Spice Co. By their deadline, the duo had raised $19,117 -- 273 percent of their original $7,000 goal. The Bravado Spice hot sauces are now available in more than a dozen stores in Houston and California and are sold online.

Part of what has made Kickstarter successful is the reward system it encourages. People seeking funds set up award amounts commensurate with specific donation amounts. In the case of Fluff Bake Bar, for example, Masson has offered a reward of six free snickerdoodle, chocolate chip or gingersnap cookies and a "Sugar Hooker" sticker for a pledge of $25 to $49. For a $50 pledge, the reward increases to a Fluff Bake Bar tote bag and a dozen Fluffernutter cookies. The pledges max out at $10,000. For that much money, Masson will give a generous patron his or her very own Fluff Bake Bar cookie created by Masson and the patron, a four-person dessert tasting, an invite for two to attend a pre-opening event, a Fluff Bake Bar tote bag and a dozen free cookies each month for a year. Not too shabby.

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