At the intersection of fashion and hip-hop culture, Benny Emery carved out an unconventional path to entrepreneurship. Instead of settling for mundane internships like fetching coffee, Emery strategically positioned himself where every budding fashion entrepreneur was bound to go: Kinko’s in Soho.
“My thought process was simple,” explains Emery, “Anyone wanting to run a fashion business would eventually need to show up at Kinko’s for their logistical needs.” More than a stint at a copy shop, Emery laid the groundwork for an innovative endeavor—along with partner Carolina Wang, leading to the birth of their food and dessert art brand EATGOODNYC in 2014.
From Kinkos to Cupcakes
Coming from a marketing background, Emery’s love for baking started with his mother, a professional baker: “those memories lingered in me like a muscle memory.” Yet, traditional jobs didn’t satisfy him; he sought something fulfilling and autonomous.
Born in Taiwan and raised in Argentina, Wang developed a love for fashion early: “I am grateful for my parents for providing such an eye-opening upbringing.” Pursuing a fashion career in North Carolina and later in New York, she worked with established brands like Under Armor. However, seeking a creative outlet beyond the demanding fashion industry, Wang found solace in baking.
Recognizing the emotional significance of food in her life, Wang found a deep connection with baking. “Being Taiwanese and growing up in an Asian family, food has always been a significant part of my life.” Baking tied her to her roots and forged a path in fashion. An online dating site match led her to Emery, initiating a partnership that would eventually the creation of their company.
The philosophy of co-owners Emery and Wang is simple: “We always considered ourselves a design company and food artists.” This ideology is vividly reflected in their fashion-forward, meticulously crafted culinary creations. They embrace their non-culinary backgrounds and favor an artistic approach to their work, blurring the line between chefs, bakers, and artists.
The Birth of the “Selfie Cupcake”
Emery was promoting a party he and Wang had the ingenious idea of creating a unique gift for Awkwafina, who is now a well-known actress and rapper. Emery suggested, “How about putting her face on a cupcake?” Despite some second thoughts about whether it was possible, they decided to give it a shot.
Awkwafina, famous for her signature look – a beanie with glasses, loved the cupcake rendition of herself. When she reposted it, the reaction was overwhelming. Many people commented that it was a unique and creative idea, which led to EATGOODNYC’s founders’ eureka moment. They knew they were onto something, but recognition escalated to new heights with an event in 2015 involving Cara Delevingne.
“We got a selfie cupcake to Cara Delevingne. And she went nuts over it. So yeah, that was a whole Benny guerrilla tactic market — he literally posted in front of Sephora waiting for her to come out with a cookie, with a cupcake, and with the paparazzi”, said Wang. “Next thing you know, that story ended up in Vogue and Daily Mail and that’s where everybody kind of took off with it.”
The endorsement from a celebrity like Delevingne and others like it validated their creativity and acted as the launching pad for their vision to a broader audience.
The Power of Celebrity and Hype Culture
The brand’s personalized approach manifests in every creation. Each cupcake encapsulates an individual’s life moment, celebrity nods that often go viral on social media, or street culture influences. These creations not only spark excitement within their fanbase but continue to define and propagate the creative journey of
Notable celebrity interactions and projects, like honoring iconic artists such as Missy Elliot or a life-size version of the New Balance x Action Bronson’s Baklava sneaker, have helped EATGOODNYC establish its place at the intersection of food, fashion, and street culture.
From unique confections tailored to viral internet moments to pieces that pay homage to iconic figures such as and cultural touchstones within the hip-hop community, Their focus on current cultural phenomena and intricate edible art further solidifies their position as innovators in the industry.
Celebrating Present and the Bright Future Ahead
Today, after almost a decade in operation, the duo behind EATGOODNYC continues to broaden their creative scope, crafting eclectic and engaging masterpieces for brands, celebrities, and anyone celebrating a milestone.
Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Wang produced a limited-edition cookie-cutter set for the NBA’s 75th anniversary, which sold out in under four minutes. Recently, they penned a licensing deal with basketball’s governing body worldwide.
EATGOODNYC continues making impressive strides in its business journey. They supply all the desserts for Madison Square Garden—a major collaboration that underscores their industry standing and reputation.
Wang explains her passion and the couples’ unique approach: “I love cupcakes being a vessel because I love making tiny little things. But also, I feel somebody’s life has so many interesting points. Each cupcake has its own space to tell a whole story. I feel like one cake can only tell so much without it looking too cluttered. So that’s why we did this whole life story thing in a cupcake dozen arrangement.”
Their personalized approach manifests in every creation. Each cupcake encapsulates an individual’s life moment, sparking exclaims from customers such as, “Oh my god, that’s this moment in my life!
EATGOODNYC’s Homebase: Saint Michel Café
Their dedication to offering a more immersive experience than just a storefront transaction has manifested through their showroom and retail space Saint Michel Café and Bakery. The cafe itself opened November of last year after it served solely as a showroom for consultations and order pickups. “We didn’t want our customers standing on the curb,” Emery remarks. As Wang insists, “post-pandemic, we knew we had to open the space up.”
The café stands not only as a tribute to their community but as a creative outlet, a warm, welcoming haven adorned with an array of books, vintage magazines, records, and VHS videos. A place where culture is cultivated, creatives are nurtured, and the community is brought together.
Its influence doesn’t stop there, though. The café is also an homage to the Brooklyn native and artistic phenomenon, Jean-Michel Basquiat, who profoundly inspires Emery. Echoing Basquiat’s journey of self-discovery and his quest to seek his creative “tribe,” Emery shares his experience: “I left my comfort zone in Queens to find a community that shared my passions. The idea is that sometimes you have to venture off the beaten path to truly discover what drives you.”
Staying Creative through Edible Innovation
Emery and Wang embrace their non-culinary backgrounds and favor an artistic approach to their work, pushing the boundaries between chefs, bakers, and artists. Always staying hands-on, Wang recently ventured into candy flowers and wearable accessories, inspired by her fascination and love for the craft:
“I love hard candy. And the fact that it was like a sculpture that I could eat is just like so cool to me. And I was obsessed with it. Trying to brand candy and give companies a different option than just cookies and cupcakes and cake like candy you could ship it and everything. It’s just constantly thinking outside the box as a brand and how to brand yourself in a fun way,” shares Wang.
Emery and Wang’s strengths lie in their commitment to ongoing evolution and innovation. The journey of EatGoodNYC reiterates a valuable lesson for entrepreneurs—that the most unconventional ideas can lead to the grandest opportunities. It’s clear from their journey thus far that evolution and adaptability will continue to be at the heart of their work: “and that’s why we have survived because we just keep evolving.”