Husband-and-wife business owners Vincent and Rebekah Hopkins are getting creative in the kitchen.
The pair launched Freestyle Confections from their Worcester home in early 2018, blending their respective talents.
“I’ve always wanted to own my own business,” Rebekah, 35, said, saying that she previously started jewelry and photography businesses. “I always enjoyed food … but I had the entrepreneurial mindset and he had a food background. We thought about opening a restaurant or a cafe and then looked into home processing and decided to open a small traveling bakery, so it was the two melding into one.”
Oneonta native Vincent, 29, said that, after completing a BOCES culinary program in high school, he furthered that passion at SUNY Morrisville and Paul Smith’s College.
Rebekah said that she and Vincent pursued a home processing license in late 2017.
“Home processing means you use your home kitchen and there can be no commercial (equipment),” she said. “Everything has to be shelf-stable and packaged before you leave the house, so no cream fillings, no banana breads, no tempered chocolate; there’s a list of things you can make and everything has to be approved through the (New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets).”
The specific license, she said, allows them to sell from home, farmers’ markets and other vendor events. And because of a recent rule change, Rebekah said, they also offer deliveries.
“We started doing research and gathering information … and had our first event on May 4, 2018,” she said. Freestyle Confections has since appeared regularly at such events as Pride Fest in Oneonta, the Oneonta Christmas tree-lighting ceremony, the Susquehanna Balloon Festival, the twice-monthly farmers’ market in the Bassett Medical Center clinic building and farmers’ markets in Delhi and Milford. Freestyle Confections will also be at the Cooperstown Spring Fling on May 16.
That initial event date, Rebekah said, proved significant, as she and Vincent discovered they were expecting two days later and her pregnancy-related sickness kept her out of the kitchen.
“He took over baking, so he’s become the baker and I’m the idea maker,” she said.
That family would factor so heavily in the business, the Hopkinses said, was epitomizing. One-year-old Ezekiel, Rebekah said, is Freestyle Confections’ “mascot” and 11-year-old Emerson is the business’ “biggest salesperson.”
“Emerson is a big part of our business,” Rebekah said. “She does the money and the layout, and people like that we’re a family-oriented business and that we actually care about (customers). The response has been really good, because we don’t just sell you a cookie and send you on your way; we connect with people.
“My (parents) worked in Oneonta … so they were in the community all the time and I grew up seeing that,” she said, “so it’s nice to be a part of that now. It’s just a nice, big, family business and we try to make our customers feel that.”
Vincent said the food, too, leaves a lingering impression.
“(People) appreciate the simpleness but deliciousness of our food,” he said, noting the business’ “From scratch, from home” motto. “The ingredients are simple, but it tastes gourmet and people notice that.”
Customer favorites, Rebekah and Vincent said, include their brookies (half brownie, half cookie), lemon crumble bars, fruit pies, muffins and specialty Rice Krispie treats. Though they do not make custom cakes or cupcakes, because of the stipulations of their license, Rebekah said, they welcome custom orders.
Freestyle Confections also offers vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free and keto items, which the Hopkinses said they introduced after receiving “many, many questions.”
“We just started doing vegan items and those are popular, but keto is where we started” Rebekah said. “People love this stuff and the hype is there … and with the Department of Ag and Markets, you have to label everything, so people really like that.”
The business name, Rebekah said, reflects the Hopkinses' evolving offerings as well as their interests.
“We don’t have a set menu; we change it constantly, bringing in new items (and) changing flavors,” she said. “We decided right away that we wanted to be constantly growing with our menu … and Vincent is a beatboxer and I love to sing … so ‘Freestyle’ was fitting.”
Rebekah and Vincent said their client base is primarily 25- to 45-year-olds, with lots of treat-loving kids mixed in. Their vendor events and delivery services, they said, extend to “Cooperstown, Oneonta, Oswego, Syracuse and Binghamton.” They will also deliver to area colleges, bringing confections directly to dorms.
Rebekah said, while May through December and Valentine’s Day are the “busiest times,” she’s hoping to generate increased interest year-round.
“It’s just about growth and getting our names out there,” she said. “It’s about making that connection and people knowing they can call us for a wedding, a shower or just a gift.
“This year we doubled our events and sales,” she said, “so we’re focused on growth and letting people know we exist.”
For more information or to place an order, find “Freestyle Confections” on Facebook, follow @freestyleconfections on Instagram or email firstname.lastname@example.org.