photo of the owners Dan and Julie Couturier
Dan and Julie Couturier’s children, family, and friends are a lucky bunch. The couple, who own DreamScape Desserts in downtown Comstock Park, like to experiment with new flavors for their cupcakes, and somebody has to do the tough job of taste testing.
“We are constantly trying new flavors of cupcakes, cookies and brownies,” said Julie. “We like to take other types of desserts (like) root beer float, raspberry cheesecake, and see if they would make good cupcakes. “We test them with the kids and other family and friends.”
The couple started the business out of their home in 2010. The business quickly outgrew their kitchen, and they leased a space in Sparta which they also outgrew. In 2014, they moved to the Comstock Park location, 3917 Leland Avenue, which they leased for two years before buying it. The building, which had housed a restaurant, had hook-ups for a commercial kitchen, and they brought in their own equipment. Besides the kitchen where they do the mixing and baking, there is a small entryway with a counter where people pick up their orders, and a decorating area.
Being near a highway makes for easy delivery and customer pick up, said Dan. Besides the Couturiers, there are two employees who are full-time during the busy wedding season which is the May through October and part-time the rest of the year. Family members help out occasionally. They primarily make cupcakes and cakes, but also do cookies and brownies. The business does not do retail sales. Customers order what they want and pick it up or have it delivered. “You see so much waste in regular retail bakeries…they have to make things in case customers want an item, then they may have to throw some out” said Dan. “We do orders, so we don’t have extra leftovers.”
The one event when they do storefront sales is their “Sunday Fun Day’ when people can stop in and get a package of twelve mini-cupcakes for $5. That event is hugely popular in the community, said Julie, and when the signs go up advertising that sale, the word spreads, and the place is packed. Other advertising is done through social media and at bridal shows. Weddings are their main business, and they’ve made some interesting cakes. “A couple had their wedding at the Michigan International Speedway, and we did a thousand cupcakes,” said Dan. “The groom’s cake was a custom carved snowmobile.”
Dan also carved a “fish cake” for a groom’s cake that was two fish interlocking. It was salmon pink inside, and Dan air-brushed the outside to make it look silvery. Carving a cake is tricky, and Julie noted, “You gotta make sure you plan.”
Julie credits her sister for getting them started in baking. “She was getting married and wanted me to make a cake,” said Julie. “I had no experience, probably had fourteen heart attacks. Then my other sister asked me to do her wedding cake,” she said. “Then people who saw (the cakes) asked us to do birthday cakes, and we decided to give it a go.”
It all paid off. The business was named “Bride’s Choice” by the Wedding Wire web site in 2010, their first year, and they have won that award every year since.
Dan majored in computer information and technology at Grand Rapids Community College. When it comes to their Dreamscapes business, he likes “the business side of it, doing the numbers.” For Julie, the greatest pleasure is “seeing the people when they see their cakes, especially the kids.” The two participate in Icing Smiles, a nonprofit organization that provides custom celebration cakes and other treats to families impacted by the critical illness of a child. They are also a Little League sponsor. They have a son age 15 and daughter age 10, and Julie is in the Comstock Park Parent Teacher Organization.
Julie, who majored in business management at Grand Rapids Community College, works at Valley City Sign as sales support supervisor. Dan managed a wholesale warehouse until it closed in 2011. Now Dreamscapes is his full time job. When they’re not baking, they’re usually busy with their kids’ sports and activities.