FAIRBANKS — After five years of “paying her dues” at local markets and bazaars, AKCrave owner Jessica Danielson is happy and excited to have a brick-and-mortar shop in downtown Fairbanks.
The confectioner crafts truffles, homemade marshmallows and fudge from the historic 1930s house at 505 Illinois St. “We’re the cute white house with the red trim,” she said.
Soft white walls contrast with old hardwood floors. A spacious showroom is lightly lit by lamps, the result of no electrical wires in the ceiling.
Her showroom also offers hand-crafted goods from Alaska and beyond, including greeting and holiday cards, jewelry, clothing, glass straws, coffee mugs and children’s items in her popular kids corner.
“People would ask me where I would get my earrings or other little accessories, and I thought maybe I could start carrying these things from local artists,” she said.
Danielson always knew she wanted to run her own business, but she originally envisioned event planning. She unexpectedly started a food business after bringing a batch of carrot cupcakes to her previous job.
“Someone wanted to place an order, and it just kind of sparked from there,” she recalled.
Danielson quickly realized her oven was too small for baked goods — not to mention a lot of people were already selling cupcakes — so she got an old family recipe and transitioned to chocolates.
Now, she makes small batch gourmet confections, with flavorings made from scratch and a desire to try new recipes.
Danielson’s key to confections: “Lots of love and a really good KitchenAid mixer.”
Great customer service and marketing are how Danielson drives her business. Joining the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce was pivotal. “It connected me with other companies rather than cold calling,” she said.
Danielson’s main customers are locals who want to support small businesses, though she has catered a few events with a desert bar, something she hopes do more of in the future.
She also holds craft classes in a spare room at her store. In February a local boutique will expand into her spare room for the month, part of Danielson’s plan to find a broad and busy business model.
Running the business is a personal challenge for Danielson; she’s constantly working up her confidence to expand and try different things.
Danielson recently brought on her first employee, a part-timer originally hired to work the front end but who turned out to be “a ninja-rolling truffle machine.”
Most of AKCrave’s confections are priced $2 each, or six for $10, but gifts in her store hit every price point between $1 and $60.
Her personal favorite sweet is the rocky road fudge, with lightly salted peanuts, marshmallow and “just enough chocolate to hold everything together.”
“I quality control that one a lot,” Danielson said.
Contact staff writer Robin Wood at 459-7510. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMcity.