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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

MOVERS and SHAKERS: Brittany Alexander, Owner of Country Bed & Breakfast in Queensbury, New York and Owner of Special Cakes Our Coverage Sponsored by Paul Mayer Attitudes

Brittany Alexander

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A perfectionist, animal advocate, and cake-enthusiast, Brittany Alexander is right where she needs to be. Brittany Alexander owns and operates two businesses in Queensbury, New York with her sister, Megan Alexander: Country House Bed & Breakfast, which offers luxurious accommodations and is pet friendly, and Special Cakes, which creates and delivers personalized cupcakes. Brittany and her sister founded the businesses together. The creation and operation of both businesses requires imagination, a certain extent of theatrical production, and the occasional need for improvisation, all qualities that Brittany has honed with her background in performing arts.

Theater, music, and dance were a large part of Brittany's life growing up. She performed in local amateur musical theater productions with the dream of one day doing it professionally. Brittany attended Ithaca College, majoring in musical theater, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science from SUNY New Paltz in 2000. After college, Brittany pursued a modeling career in New York City as an avenue to enter the entertainment industry. She was in several print ads and television commercials. After experiencing the world of entertainment and the urban lifestyle, Brittany decided she wanted to refocus on home and family. With her current role as co-owner of Country House Bed & Breakfast and Special Cakes, Brittany has the lifestyle she desires, is using her background in theater in a way she could never have predicted, and she is perfect for the part.

Through theater, Brittany was involved in the creation of costumes and focused on what a role would wear in order to best communicate its character to the audience. This skill proves invaluable to her current endeavor, as the uniforms created for each business do just that; communicate the brand to the consumer audience. Both brands are professional, so require a polished look. However, Special Cakes has more of a fun, fashion foreword, celebratory essence, while Country House is more Cinderella, pre-ball; do the chores while still looking pretty (and talking to the dog and the birds is always in order too). With these fashion elements in mind, the Special Cakes uniform is a black suit (pants or skirt) with a black tee shirt that has the Special Cakes logo on the front, and bright pink high heels (thank you, J.Crew). Brittany and Megan wear their hair in a top knot with a black ribbon tied around it and tied in a bow under it. When Brittany and Megan are setting up cupcakes on tiers at a venue, they add pink aprons to this uniform, which have a different cupcake detail on each. This uniform projects the fun, chic, good nature of Special Cakes and clients usually comment on how it adds to the experience. For Country House, the black suit and hair ribbon is the same, but a white tee shirt is worn displaying the Country House sign on the front. Antique white aprons with varying details from Anthropologie are worn during breakfast and chamber service and black flats with a bow are usually worn (thanks, again, J.Crew). This uniform conveys professionalism, sophistication, and communicates that Brittany and Megan are ready to serve. With experience in costume design, designing the uniforms was second nature to Brittany.

Brittany excels at customer service, having had experience with the live audience. Her sparkling personality shines as she takes reservations, discusses cupcake personalization, or discusses travelers' trip itineraries. Brittany's very nature is to please and to ensure that guests and clients are treated with the best service possible.

It is in Brittany's character to push the limits. She has a mindset that nothing is impossible. She would never have thought she could even attempt an entertainment career if she did not have this mindset. This drive is what makes the products offered beyond the expected. Always asking herself, ‘what can be better,’ the Country House experience and Special Cakes are always of the highest quality with the most attention to detail. Brittany will not allow a product or experience that does not exceed expectations. She ensures every client's experience is the best and is memorable.

Brittany's focus is always on customer perception. Part of this comes from experience with audience perception, but most is her natural inclination. Customers always comment on her ability to make them feel welcome. With her attention to detail, broad creativity, and care for the client, Brittany plays an invaluable role in this sister act. We are delighted to present Brittany Alexander as our latest Mover and Shaker! Peachy Deegan interviewed Brittany for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: 
Do you have show business ambitions still-why or why not and if so what would you like to do in this realm?
Brittany Alexander: 
My need to connect with an audience has evolved into the need to connect with a market. I do feel that my ideas and approach to the current industries I am involved in are interesting and have high entertainment value, however. If I had the opportunity to share this with a wider market (audience) through television, that would be ideal.

What ads were you in and of these, which brands do you keep up with and what do you like about them?
I was in the first ads for Crest White Strips and Nike Goddess and ads for Ethan Allen and Office Depot. All of these brands are great. When I was shooting for Ethan Allen, little did I know that I would have a business full of Ethan Allen furniture. Most of the furniture at Country House Bed & Breakfast is Ethan Allen. I like this brand because it offers pieces that are approachable and exude modern luxury.

What are the most bizarre and difficult cake requests you've received and how did you rise to the challenge? 
I always find it interesting when people contact me with extreme enthusiasm about their specific cupcake design, only to find out, they have no idea what they want. To rise to this challenge, I attempt to draw some clues from the client so that I have something to base the design on. With few details, my goal and challenge is to create a cupcake design that is perfectly suited for this person. Strangely enough, I am always met with a positive response.

What is the difference between people that meet expectations and those that exceed them?
People that meet expectations do what they are told without further thought. People that exceed expectations have a vision of what can be and believe in the possibility of carrying it out.

What should the world know about your sister Megan?
Her sense of humor. While Megan may appear stoic to the outside world, at home, she is a riot! Also, she does not just bake. She is a fabulous cook too!

What field was your Bachelor of Science in and does what you learned in this discipline influence you today, and if so how?
I have a Bachelor of Science in Theatre. It applies to what I do today because in these businesses, it is like setting the stage for a new act every day.

What are your favorite animals and why?
All animals are special and I feel that we, as humans, are privileged to be able to take care of them. My favorite animals are dogs. A dog to me is a permanent member of my family. I have never lived without one. They are companions, each with their own funny personality. I love how they always accept you.

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence?
My family has always been a huge support system. This foundation has allowed me to pursue excellence.

What are you proudest of and why?
I am proud to be an American because it has afforded me the opportunity to create my own businesses.

What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do?
I would like to lead Special Cakes in the direction of beauty by designing my own makeup and beauty product line. I would also like to offer my expertise through makeovers, both in beauty and in home design.

What honors and awards have you received in your profession?
I was on the Dean’s List through college. I was fortunate to be a recipient of the Jane Woods Werly Scholarship and the Theatre Arts Alumni Scholarship awarded at Ithaca College. 

What one word best describes you and why?
Organized. I find that if I am organized I can be most efficient.

What do you take your sense of identity from?
My sense of identity has a lot to do with my upbringing and the way God wired me. Who I am today is derived from these things.

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan?
57th and 5th because it is within walking distance to my favorites shops, salons and restaurants. When I go to Manhattan, 57th and 5th is always my starting place.

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan?
My favorite shop in Manhattan is Juicy Couture on Madison Avenue. Every single piece there is so pretty and so unique. The clothes, shoes and accessories are feminine and ultra glam while, at the same time, remain practical for every day wear. I feel like a kid in a candy store when I shop at Juicy. The brand speaks to my inner Barbie.

If you could hire anybody who would it be and why?
Joel Osteen because his attitude is exactly what you need to propel you to success.

What is your favorite drink?
Dirty Grey Goose martini, straight up, no vermouth with three large olives.

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you at a cocktail party?
At the corporate Christmas party, I was unexpectedly asked to lead my coworkers in performing Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” as we had recently performed the dance at the office for a Halloween skit. My sister, Megan, participated too, as she had learned the moves with me when practicing for the office. The DJ’s version of the song was a different arrangement from the original recording. We scrambled to find a good starting point and just started to dance. We completed it flawlessly, not missing a move. We walked off the dance floor happy we were able to pull it together in front of the live crowd until we looked at each other and realized we did the entire dance facing the DJ and with our backs to the audience. The funny thing is, nobody seemed to notice besides us.

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan?
BG Restaurant at Bergdorf Goodman. I love the décor, I love the menu and I love the fact that it is in the store.

What is your favorite Manhattan book or favorite character in Manhattan literature?
Audrey Hepburn’s character in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I love classic style.

Who would you like to be for a day and why?
A dog walker in Manhattan by day and a ballerina by night. I have always wanted a group of dogs and have been fascinated by the art form of walking them in Manhattan. I would love to be a ballerina for the costume, the pointe shoes and to be able to embody a ballerina’s graceful athleticism.

If you could have anything in Manhattan named after you what would it be and why?
I would like to have a store named after me in Manhattan where I could offer my products. Manhattan would be the ideal location for the flagship of my brands because the city embodies characteristics that are common to my personality and my brands; high energy, sophistication, and on the cutting edge of fashion.

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience?
Shooting the Nike Goddess ad campaign alongside professional athletes. I mean, who gets to do that?!

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else?
Go to the Broadway theatre.

If you could have dinner with any person living or passed, who would it be and why?
Vincent Piazza! I first saw him in Jersey Boys and it was love at first sight. He seems charming, smooth and adorable. I feel like he is the exact type of man I have been waiting for.

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience?
After seeing Robert Cuccioli perform as Javert in Les Miserables several times on Broadway, and admiring him from afar, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to audition for him in Manhattan, for a role in a performance he was directing.

What do you personally do or what have you done to give back to the world?
I believe that individual responsibility and making the right choices will better the world. I contribute to the world by being an individual who makes responsible choices. If everyone operated in this manner and believed in personal accountability, I believe the world would be a better place.

What do you think is most underrated and overrated in Manhattan?
underrated: being able to be fashionable and set a trend without looking ridiculous 
overrated: yoga

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite Whom You Know column and what do you like about it? 
The Better Living and Travel section of columns, particularly the Blissful Bed and Breakfasts because I am interested in other bed and breakfast owners and their takes on the business.

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
I believe all things are possible through faith.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?

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