Shelley Stannard, owner of Flavor Cupcakery, says she feels winning "Cupcake Wars" is less an individual triumph and more a win for Bel Air and small business.
"I don't think of it as much as a personal victory, but as, 'Wow, look at what we all can do,'" said Stannard, 45, who opened the business in 2010.
Just days after the episode of the popular Food Network show featuring Flavor Cupcakery aired, the phone at the Bel Air shop was ringing off the hook.
Stannard said participating in the show, which Flavor Cupcakery won, was fueled by the store's customers.
"We just kept hearing, over and over, 'Oh, you have to be on 'Cupcake Wars,'" Stannard said.
When someone from the show called the shop and asked if she would be interested in appying to be on the show, Stannard decided to take her customers' advice and go for it.
The process began in August, and Stannard enlisted Harford Community College student volunteers to produce the audition tape.
"They did a great job, very professional," Stannard said.
After about a month of back-and-forth, Stannard learned she and her pastry chef, Jason Hisley, would be competing on the show.
"Once we realized we were on, we realized we had to keep it quiet," Stannard said.
Keeping the exciting secret was further complicated after taping the show. A confidentiality agreement prevented Hisley and Stannard from spilling the beans about their big win.
"It was very difficult," Stannard said of keeping the secret.
She called the experience of being on the show "intense" and said it was a challenge to leave the shop and fly across the country to participate in the show.
"Thanks to my wonderful staff who kept things running so no one knew we were gone," Stannard said.
Despite the stress, Stannard said she and Hisley had a great time being part of the show.
"Jason and I just had so much fun, even with the stress, we would just giggle about the craziness of it all," Stannard said.
Before and after "Cupcake Wars," Stannard said the community has shown overwhelming support for the store.
"They're just so thrilled that someone local was able to compete on that national level," Stannard said.
For her it's all about local. She is proud to be a local woman and small business owner offering jobs to passionate young people from the area.
Hisley, 23, is among those passionate young people. A 2006 Bel Air High School student with a bachelor's in pastry arts, Hisley is grateful to be doing what he loves.
"This is like a dream come true," Hisley said.
Both Hisley and Stannard say they love their jobs.
"I just always wanted to have a cute little shop," Stannard said.
Her sister directed her to cupcakes and the more Stannard thought about it, the more she liked the idea.
"I saw how beautiful and creative cupcakes can be," Stannard said. "I also felt we didn't have a high quality bakery here. I could do something beautiful and fill a need."
From here, Stannard says her eye is on expansion and is considering opening another location in Cockeysville.
"We want to take this product that has enhanced our area to other parts of Maryland," Stannard said.
Stannard sees her shop as a respite; a place people can come for a sweet treat.
"I envision it being this beautiful little break from life's stress," Stannard said.