Splash: Berlin’s chamber director has her cake and decorates it, too

New Berlin Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Shae Stangl is hoping to revamp more than the chamber’s new digs at 104 E. Huron St., which now features a new logo along with the chamber’s new face. Maic D’Agostino photo

by Maic D’Agostino

They say, “Do what you love.”

For the Berlin Chamber of Commerce’s executive director, she’s doing just that in her brand-new position.

“It’s kind of like combining all of the different things I’ve done before into one position — marketing, sales, event planning; I’ve done all of those things professionally, just separately,” Shae Stangl said. “So now I get to combine all of my strengths, which is really cool. Because you always have a favorite part of a job; now I get to do all the favorite parts from each one. So that kind of worked out in my favor.”

And the Ripon native was talking about just one of her jobs.

Because, you see, Shae also does marketing, social media management and wedding cake-making for Berlin’s Baked, a business she dreamed up with her friend, owner Kristina Boeck.

Talk about having your cake and eating it, too.

Shae is deeply excited about both ventures, but much of her time now is spent at the chamber’s new address, 104 E. Huron St., where it’s been located since February, just down the street from its former location.

“I’m usually here all day,” she said, noting she also puts in three days a week at Baked, plus many a summer Saturday for wedding cake delivery. “Which I don’t mind. I enjoy it.”

Although Shae’s only been on board since July 17, she’s already envisioning a revamping — both of the chamber’s physical office itself and of the benefits it can offer to Berlin businesses.

Some of her ideas for how the chamber can better engage its members include “happy hour” gatherings, greater social media presence (on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram), free seminars, networking with other Berlin and Green Lake County businesses and featuring displays created by businesses — one or two at a time — in the chamber’s prominent, storefront windows on the corner of Huron and Wisconsin.

“So within the next year, there’s a lot of new benefits our members are getting,” she said.

Shae hopes she can model small-business growth and networking with Baked.

She and Kristina jumped right into baking and selling cakes, pastries, cupcakes, brownies and more last year.

“We started together with kind of a joke,” Shae said, calling the idea of their own shop “a dream” that they shared while they worked together at their previous jobs.

But then the opportunity to rent a space materialized.

“We kind of looked at each other one day, and she was like, ‘What do you think?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s just do it!’” Shae said.

Since then, the shop has done well, recently needing to expand its hours.

In fact, Shae and Kristina have been so busy they missed their shop’s first anniversary June 1.

“We didn’t even celebrate,” Shae said.

(Fortunately, it’s never too late for birthday cake, right?)

Fourteen months later, they’re still settling into their corner of the large building that used to house an old fur-trading production company.

Although the address is listed as 208 Broadway St., the entrance to the shop is off Pierce. They’ve utilized the oddly shaped space and its old fire-proof safes, vault and pull-out fur-drying racks to incorporate charm and resourcefulness into the growing business.

The little shop is bright, with sunlight gleaming off chocolate-frosted brownies so seductively that this reporter was forced to buy not one but two.

(Don’t worry; I shared one with a friend who later texted me that “it was delicious!” a view with which I whole-heartedly concur.)

Even though they’ve made it their own, there are parts of the building Shae dares not venture.

“I won’t go in the basement; don’t know what’s down there,” she said with a laugh.

But the partners in creme are excited for the future of Baked, whether it includes basements or not.

Shae hopes the business may one day expand to her hometown of Ripon, possibly with a retail-focused shop where orders could be placed and picked up.

Right now, however, she’s focusing on her new community: Berlin.

“I [still] say ‘they,’ but I have to remember to say ‘we,’ because I’m here now,” she said.

She’s eager to network with the local chamber members to highlight all the nooks and crannies that make Berlin unique.

That starts with the stretch of street both Baked and the chamber — along with many other businesses — call home.

“I really want to focus on rebuilding the downtown and getting more exposure to the businesses,” she said. “There’s actually some really cool businesses in town that, [being] born and raised in Ripon, I didn’t even know  Berlin had.”

While Shae believes it’s the chamber’s job to facilitate the networking and advertising, she hopes greater involvement from the chamber with the community, as well as greater involvement within the community itself, will rekindle excitement and pride in Berlin.

“From what I hear from a lot of the locals, there used to be more of like a ‘fire’ for the town,” she said, “and then it kind of was kind of hard without someone spearheading things in this office …

“But so far, I think everything has been good; the direction that we’re going in has been really good.”

Moving in the right direction is something the 2011 Ripon High School graduate has been doing herself.

After high school, Shae attended Marion University in Fond du Lac for vocal performance, but she realized quickly that “just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you should do it for a living.”

She then got a degree in meeting and event management at Fox Valley Technical College, and currently is finishing up another degree in small business entrepreneurship at Moraine Park Technical College.

“It’s all very applicable to what I’m doing,” Shae said.

And she’s been working full-time throughout her educational pursuits.

Now, though, she feels she can really focus on the chamber and Baked.

Shae has come a long way from what she called “stress baking” in high school to a self-taught wedding cake designer.

And now she can add “chamber of commerce executive director” to her resume.

“I love the community; I’m loving what I’m doing here,” Shae said. “… Good things are happening.”