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Swirls and Pearls cupcake shop co-owners Bethany Willmarth, left, and Melissa Bentley show off some of their work at their new store Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, inside the Asher Building in Cheyenne. The new cupcake shop will formally open at the end of the month. Michael Cummo/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – Bethany Willmarth and Melissa Bentley will both admit that when they met around a decade ago, they would never have expected to find themselves working together almost all the time, usually with their entire front half of their bodies covered in flour dust or some type of frosting.

But in the past four years, the women have been making the Cheyenne community a little “sweeter” with their cupcake business, Swirls and Pearls.

If you’ve never had one of their cupcakes, you’re missing out. The two have managed to nail the perfect style of buttercream frosting that’s not too sweet, mixed with perfectly flavored cakes. Whether you’re looking for a sweet treat infused with alcohol, a gluten-free dessert or just a fantastic red velvet cupcake, Swirls and Pearls has an almost cult following in the area. The only demographic they can’t cater to is diabetics, but maybe one day they’ll develop a sugar-free cupcake.

And at the end of the month, they’re opening their first brick-and-mortar shop inside the upstairs portion of the Asher Building. The store will officially be open to the public Nov. 30, coinciding with Small Business Saturday.

“We both had a passion for baking, and it was just something we did for our families and friends,” Willmarth said when discussing how the two women got started working together. “We came together in 2014 to throw a Halloween party for our kids, and made some pretty stellar, fun cupcakes. All of our children’s friends and their parents gave us compliments about the cupcakes, so we walked away from that wondering if there was potential for more.”

Since Willmarth and Bentley lived in the same cul-de-sac at the time and were stay-at-home moms, they both felt like they needed a way to express themselves creatively. While both were and are dedicated to their families, they discussed feeling a little stir crazy at the time.

So after taking the time to discuss the idea of opening up a cupcake business with each other and their families, Swirls and Pearls came to life in January 2015.

They didn’t expect much when first starting, maybe getting one or two orders a month.

It was more like one or two orders per week.

“It was within days of us getting our Facebook page up and out there that things just exploded,” Bentley said.

Turns out that the people of Cheyenne love quality, homemade cupcakes. The two had steady business for quite a while, taking in multiple orders per month and occasionally doing a rush job when it popped up.

But when they worked with local leather goods company Alexis Drake on a pop-up shop, the two women began to consider expanding the business.

“That was when we went from having a part-time gig to doing a full-time job from our homes,” Willmarth said. “We didn’t expect it. We were shocked.”

Sure, working at home in your kitchen all day long might sound fun, but it can sometimes get a bit overwhelming when you’re elbow-deep in cupcake batter day after day.

But that’s what sets Willmarth and Bentley apart from other business owners: They genuinely love what they do, and you can taste it in every cupcake they create.

They’re hoping the people of Cheyenne, both former customers and new ones, will notice that once they finally open their store.

While they’re still a couple weeks out from opening, they do plan to be open from Wednesday through Saturday every week, as well staying open late for events at the Asher, such as Fridays in the Asher next year. They don’t have times for the store locked in yet, but will announce that in the coming days.

They plan to have at least six flavors available daily, as well as gluten-free, alcohol-infused and special cupcakes. They were unsure of what to price the cupcakes (noting they would slightly increase it due to rising ingredient costs), but it wouldn’t be much, likely between $3 and $5 per cupcake. They will have mini-cupcakes and regular-sized ones available daily, too.

While the women will run the store as its only two employees, they still plan to do their custom orders and catering, too. However, they did say the rush jobs they’ve done in the past might not be possible once the store opens.

Since the two announced the shop’s opening back in the summer, they’ve had people anxiously asking about when they will finally start selling their cupcakes to the public. Willmarth and Bentley are grateful for everyone’s patience and said hey believe their cupcakes are worth the wait.

“I think our secret is that we use quality ingredients; these aren’t coming from a cake box,” Bentley said. “You’re going to come into the shop and get to actually talk with the people who are baking and decorating these cupcakes every day. We take pride in what we do, and we love what we do.”

Ellen Fike is a freelance writer living in Cheyenne. She can be reached at elfylucille@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter at @EllenLFike.

Ellen Fike is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s features editor. She can be reached at efike@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3135. Follow her on Twitter @EllenLFike

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