Twenty six-year-old Seymour resident Alyssa DeMatteo fell in love with the art of cake design and decorating years ago at her first job as a bakery cashier.
In between customers, the young cashier would intently watch the bakery’s only cake decorator at work, eagerly soaking in every minute detail and technique. DeMatteo eventually left the bakery to help manage her father’s steel construction business, but after his sudden death she found herself yearning to return to the art she loved so much.
In her spare time, DeMatteo immersed herself in learning new cake decorating skills and launched a Facebook page for her budding business, Wildflour Cupcakes & Sweets. She quickly gained notoriety in Southern Connecticut’s cake and cupcake scene and her modern confections were a hit with her own clientele. More than anything, DeMatteo dreamed of opening her own brick-and-mortar bakery.
In her quest to pursue that dream, DeMatteo sought the assistance of the Women’s Business Development Council, a not-for-profit founded in 1997 to provide the training, education and borrowing power necessary to empower women to successfully launch and grow their own businesses. She received a scholarship from the Greater Valley Chamber’s Women in Networking Group to attend the Women’s Business Development Council’s nine-week “Passion to Profit Business Plan Development” program.
According to DeMatteo, “Passion to Profit” was an eye-opening experience. “I learned valuable information regarding tax prep, profit and loss, as well as the importance of planning for retirement and setting up a 401K.”
Today, the Wildflour Confections storefront in Seymour is a 750-square-foot space, loaded with natural sunlight filtering through large windows. It oozes vintage charm, with the building’s original bead board walls and ceilings.
“I can’t believe that the day has come when I am a business owner,” said DeMatteo, proudly. “I never thought, ever, that I would be here!”
DeMatteo was among 20 successful women entrepreneurs and women business owners who have prospered from the Women’s Business Development Council’s services to be honored with their “20 for 20” award at the not-for-profit’s 20th Anniversary Luncheon Gala at the Greenwich Regency Hyatt.
Long-recognized as the signature annual women’s business gathering in Connecticut, the gala brought together nearly 700 supporters of women-owned businesses including Small Business Administration Chief Linda McMahon, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, and Congressman Jim Himes.
McMahon remarked that the women-owned businesses served by The Women’s Business Development Council are “not only serving our communities with products and services, they are providing paychecks to families and making our cities and towns vibrant places to live.
” She explained that small businesses create two out of every three net new jobs in the private sector with more than half of the U.S. workforce either employed by a small business or owning a small business. “Women in particular are driving a lot of that growth,” she said.
“Research shows that women-owned small businesses are the fastest growing sector of our economy.” Women’s Business Development Council CEO Fran Pastore addressed the crowd, “The Women’s Business Development Council’s work on behalf of women entrepreneurs has never been more relevant than it is today. Make no mistake about it; this is not a female issue. This is a socioeconomic imperative. When a woman can borrow money for income-generating activities like starting their own business or growing their own business, it has a ripple effect around our communities.”
About the Women’s Business Development Council:
Headquartered in Stamford with a satellite office in Derby, the 501 ©(3) non-profit has served nearly 19,000 clients, assisted in the creation of nearly 1,800 businesses and supported the sustainability and expansion of 3,800 established businesses and created more than 4,900 jobs. For more information on the Women’s Business Development Council, visit ctwbdc.org.