Azaria Woods was only 11 years old when she first started her baking business, Cupcake Craze by Azaria.
Now a college senior studying exercise and sport science, her business continues to delight the UNC community.
“I started baking when I was really little, but it didn’t actually turn into a business until seventh grade in 2012,” Woods said. “I started selling stuff at school out of my lunchbox and my mom's friends would buy from me, and then it just grew from there.”
When she first began her business, Woods only sold cupcakes. Now, she offers a wide variety of treats including dipped pretzels, cookies and cake pops. For Valentine’s Day, she is offering seasonal items, like an assorted treat box and conversation heart cookies, that can be purchased on her website.
As a small-business owner, Woods had to make adjustments to Cupcake Craze during the pandemic.
“I started doing cookies my freshman year at UNC,” Woods said. “Once the pandemic started, I realized that shipping cookies would be an easy way to continue selling stuff, so I sort of focused on cookies a lot the last couple years.”
In order to continue selling goods during the pandemic, Woods started to ship cookie sets, which expanded her business to as many as 10 different states.
From selling out of her lunchbox in middle school, to running her business from Craige Residence Hall, Woods credits her parents as a key component of Cupcake Craze’s success.
“When I was staying up the night before I would take stuff to school, they would help me with packaging,” Woods said. “Even if I had an order on the weekend that I needed to wake up early and finish, they would help me wake up early because I wasn’t good with that at that point.”
Woods lived on campus during her first two years at UNC, which she said presented a set of new challenges for baking her products.
“My daddy would come pick me up on Friday after he got off work and then he would take me back to his house and I would bake,” she said. “If I had a bunch of orders that weekend, he’d try to help me and then he’d drive me back. And if I needed him to, he would drive me to someone’s off-campus apartment to make a delivery.”
In addition to her parents, Woods also recognized the impact her teachers have had on her journey as a business owner.
“I remember one of my first non-family orders that I got on my own was for one of my teachers," Woods said. "She ordered it for our class Valentine's Day party, which was super cool of her."
Johna Register-Mihalik, an assistant professor in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science, described Woods and Cupcake Craze as passionate, thoughtful and innovative.
“It is really incredible to watch Azaria innovate around her passions and to integrate her experiences, love of cooking, love of learning, and her interest in Athletic Training and Physical Therapy into her business and academic successes,” Register-Mihalik, who taught Woods in her Fundamentals of Sports Medicine course, said in an email.
In addition to her time in the classroom with Woods, Register-Mihalik is also a longtime fan of Cupcake Craze products.
“My favorite thing I’ve ordered was an Orange Crush cookie set,” she said. “My kiddos (4 and 10) absolutely loved it. The colors, shapes, and texture were perfect!"
The Orange Crush cookie set, inspired by a family recipe, is also one of Woods' favorite treats from her business.
Paige Hathaway, a senior majoring in public policy, has known Woods since the early days of Cupcake Craze, as their friendship dates back to middle school.
“One year, I was at a Zumba event and they were giving away prizes, and they gave away a business consultation,” Hathaway said. “I gave that prize to her because of all the talks we had in our dorm and in life about where she wants to take it and grow Cupcake Craze. All of our conversations have either been around the future of the company, her ideas and even just financial plans of the company.”
Hathaway hopes UNC community members will use Cupcake Craze for all their baking needs.
“If you’re looking for well-made desserts with love and compassion, please use Cupcake Craze,” she said. “Even with every bite, you can tell it's not rushed, she takes her time, she cares about presentation and she cares about the feeling you get when you eat it.”
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