HUFFINGTON POST
08/13/2013 03:08 pm ET

Cakegirls' Founders Turn Tragedy Into Rebirth After Fire Destroys Once-Famous Bakery

Sisters Mary and Brenda Maher were enjoying an amazing run of success with their Chicago bakery, Cakegirls. They founded the business in 2000, making fantastical confections out of their apartment. And over the course of a decade were selling cakes to celebrities, as well as making appearances on reality TV. Then disaster struck.

In 2010, the sisters lost practically everything they'd worked for when a fire tragically burned their business to the ground. But three years after that fateful event the duo have bounced back, reinventing themselves with a new do-it-yourself party planning and cake-making website. They say it’s allowed them to preserve all of their favorite aspects of the original Cakegirls but with “a better business model.”

At the height of their cake-making business, the Maher sisters were selling cakes to celebrities such as Bono and Queen Latifah, at sometimes more than $1,000 each thanks in part to the notoriety gained from appearances on shows like We tv's "Amazing Wedding Cakes," as well as Oprah. They still tear up when recounting the fire that destroyed that business, forcing them at the time to cancel some 500 orders, according to The Chicago-Tribune. But from that tragedy, in which thankfully no one was injured, the business has found new life.

“Three years later, it was almost serendipitous,” Mary Maher said. “We can still have the same passion, be in the same arena, but do it in a whole different way.”

The site offers how-to tips, recipes and entire projects such as turning your favorite American diner staples into delicious dessert treats. Not to mention, their new business allows more time to spend with family, all while expanding to a global market, the sisters told The Chicago-Tribune shortly before the launch of their new website last summer.

“We were spreading ourselves too thin,” Mary Maher said, noting that she had failed to attend a single birthday party her kids were invited to while running the original Cakegirls.

Speaking of their new business, she added:"People knew us in one arena, but I'm hoping they'll get to know us in another."

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How I Did It: Cakegirls

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