Holly E. Dunwoody
Holly's Cupcake Bouquets 501(c)(3)Nonprofit Organization
Holly's Cupcake Bouquet 501(c)(3) is a nonprofit organization that continues Holly Dunwoody's heartfelt legacy of providing wigs and initial haircuts, free of cost, to women going through cancer treatment that cannot afford them. A cancer diagnosis can be financially devastating and the additional cost of a wig and haircut can be out of reach for many. The following article appeared in Edible Jersey Magazine on November 7, 2018. 10% of all sales from Cupcake Bouquets and The Art of Cake Studio are contributed to the nonprofit.
Sweet Treats Offer Hope - Holly's Cupcake Bouquets Carry On a Sister's Legacy
BY JENN HALL | NOVEMBER 07, 2018
If food is love, then baking may be its sweetest expression.
For Tammy Dunwoody of The Art of Cake Studio in River Vale, it goes deeper: It’s a form of tribute. With the launch of her nonprofit, Holly’s Cupcake Bouquets, Dunwoody honors her late sister, who died of breast cancer in May 2017. Along the way, Dunwoody brings a sweet pop of joy to customers and those fighting their own battles with the disease, one photorealistic cupcake arrangement at a time.
Holly’s Cupcake Bouquets pairs Dunwoody’s confectionary prowess with a charitable mission. As a newly incorporated nonprofit, the organization donates funds to benefit low-income women and girls who desire, but are unable to afford, haircuts or quality wigs during chemotherapy. As Dunwoody explains, it can make a real difference during a difficult emotional and physical fight. “You don’t think about it when you don’t have cancer,” Dunwoody reflects. “What would it be like if I didn’t have any hair? How would I feel?”
Dunwoody’s work is inspired by a 2016 YouTube video that her sister, Holly, who was a salon owner, posted during her own cancer battle. Entitled “The Wig Challenge,” it recounted the tender experience of shaving her head. “Even though I was fighting for my life, I felt I was losing myself,” she explained. Everyone’s experience is different, but for her, a realistic wig was transformational. She recognized the woman in the mirror again, saying “There you are!” It provided strength.
Holly vowed to help others feel the same, and today, Dunwoody is carrying forward her sister’s charge. Last year, inspired by Holly’s tradition of buying herself birthday flowers, Dunwoody’s daughter, Paige, brought home raspberry-red carnations to commemorate what would have been her aunt’s 55th birthday. With those and hydrangeas from Dunwoody’s backyard as muses, the first cupcake bouquet design took form. At first, the bouquets were simply models created for children’s summer camps held at the studio. The response was so positive, however, that Dunwoody realized she could do more—she could sell them to raise funds.
It takes only a glance to see that Dunwoody has a knack for transforming fondant and buttercream into art. Prior to the launch of Holly’s Cupcake Bouquets, Dunwoody’s confections had already led her to an appearance on Cupcake Wars and attracted high-profile fans, from the Bob Hope family to the Radio City Rockettes.
She even took her skills to live TV at the invite of none other than Martha Stewart. During an on-air fondant-rolling lesson in 2011, Dunwoody showcased her confections, including a replica Martha Stewart paint can that appeared ready to be hauled up a ladder, and an edible suitcase far too lovely to cram into an overhead bin. The work drew praise from America’s favorite tastemaker: “It’s phenomenal,” Stewart said, reminiscing about her own early fondant experiments. “I mean, look at this.”
Her bouquets are so realistic that you anticipate rose perfume. It’s hard to believe the former Wall Street stockbroker is self-taught. “Rather than reading a prospectus for an investment, I read cookbooks, anything Martha [Stewart] I could find, and I tried everything DIY,” Dunwoody says. While she enjoys the creativity sparked by baking and teaching, she says, the personal nature of the bouquet project brings special rewards.
People find their way to her during moments worthy of commemoration, and that’s not lost on Dunwoody. “I had a woman who ordered 13 cupcake bouquets for her daughter’s christening, and she did it because she feels like it’s such a great cause,” Dunwoody says. One of her first sales was for a trio of North Jersey women fighting their own cancer battles. “Bouquets are always about emotions and sentiment: sadness, happiness, encouragement. At this point in my life I want to do things that are more personal, that make me feel fulfilled.” Dunwoody acknowledges that the path has been emotional during this first year. Yet, she is committed to actualizing Holly’s vision. “I am on a mission,” she says. “Although I am still very much grieving, I know that what I do will help so many, and it would make Holly so happy.”
Pre-ordered bouquets are available for pick-up at The Art of Cake Studio in River Vale. Delivery is available to select North Jersey towns. Watch for expanded delivery options soon. To learn more or to donate, visit cupcakebouquets.com.
"There You Are!" Holly E. Dunwoody - 1962-2017