Soaring high with cupcakes

Wendy Johnson 14 April 2018
Jade and her sugar bites. Photo: Kim Pham.

Jade and her sugar bites. Photo: Kim Pham.

She loves to create yummy cupcakes, runs her own business and is Australia’s youngest recreational pilot.

We’re talking about Jade Esler who became a pilot at the tender age of 16. “I couldn’t drive, but I could fly a plane,” says the young entrepreneur who attends Merici College here in Canberra.

Jade opened The Sugar Bite, her cupcake business, to raise money for her flying lessons. It’s just as well her second passion is baking, because Jade sold more than 20,000 fancy cupcakes to fund her first three years of lessons.

Today Jade is still soaring high and is close to getting her private pilot’s license on her 17th birthday and then her commercial license on her 18th birthday. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” says Jade.

Jade’s love of flying started when she was just a young thing. Her dad got his pilot’s license when she was a baby and soon after started strapping Jade in a car seat in the back of a plane. She took her first steps in an airport hanger and from the moment she could speak announced her intention to be a pilot. Jade trains in Cowra, New South Wales, and fits in her training on weekends (when she’s not at a market selling cupcakes) and around her school requirements.

Photos: Supplied.

The Sugar Bite took a lot of work to establish, but Jade was determined to beat the odds, often remembering one of her favourite quotes by Henry Ford: “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”

Jade thought of the business name, developed branding, registered with the tax office, completed courses to become a food handling supervisor, built a website, organised packaging and began marketing. The Sugar Bite is a licensed food business with the ACT Department of Health.

Over the years—with her baker’s hat on—Jade has experimented with new flavours and designs, all made to the highest standards. Sure she creates basic flavours like vanilla, but she also makes a ‘Death by Chocolate’, ‘The Maltesser’ and the ‘Peanut Butter Cup’, all big sellers. Decoration is important, with some cupcakes looking like roses and others adorned with fairy floss.

You can taste Jade’s amazing cupcakes by visiting The Sugar Bite stall at the markets run by the Canberra Markets, including the Canberra Fashion Market (next one 5 May), the Three Sixty Fashion Market (13 May) and Canberra Kids Market (16 June). At the markets, Jade isn’t just popular with market goers, she’s popular with stallholders. Megan Wilcox, a regular seller at the Canberra Fashion Market, has a big slice of advice for those who have never indulged in Jade’s cupcakes: “The salted caramel is to die for”.

Beyond her regular market stints markets, Jade is also the ‘cupcake caterer’ for weddings, kid’s parties, corporate and other special events. She’ll even match the flavours and decoration of her cupcakes to the occasion. How sweet is that?

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