Kathryn Olsen always considered opening a business, but she didn't think the opportunity would arise while a graduate student in accounting at UW-Madison. When her father discovered a vacancy next door to Art Gecko, she couldn't resist.
In a two-month period, Olsen and her family acquired the baking equipment and set up Sweet Impressions, which Olsen co-owns with her brother, Don Olsen, a second-year law student at UW-Madison.
The shop is largely known for its selection of decadent cupcakes. On weekdays, it offers six to eight flavors; on weekends, anywhere from 12 to upwards of 20. Flavors include the "D'Oh," a chocolate cupcake with a cookie dough center; "Red Velvet," their take on the classic cake with a cream cheese frosting; and "The Great Dane," a cupcake inspired by the local brewpub's Black Earth Porter. It features hints of chocolate and coffee flavors, as well as a beer cream filling. Olsen adds a new flavor every two months to keep things fresh. One of her more recent efforts: a seasonal eggnog cupcake, featuring eggnog cake and eggnog frosting.
Olsen puts "a lot more effort into the actual cake," she says -- all the batter and frosting are made from scratch. And the cupcakes are a sweet deal at $1.75, about half the going rate.