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Wicked Good

(by Tracey Noonan)

Let me start by saying how much I love my daughter Dani. Unlike my other two children, Dani is my creative unicorn. She’s bubbly, a dreamer, definitely not a student, and relentlessly kind. My two older kids, also kind and thoughtful, have a more serious side. Being silly and playful doesn’t come as naturally to them. That’s why Dani’s decision to leave college in her senior year, and with just one class left to graduate, had me so concerned.

Dani stopped loving life. She became dark, withdrawn, and uninterested. In anything. She retreated to her room alone or with friends that I didn’t deem the best for her to be around, especially during this unexplained personality shift.

I tried desperately to reach her. I quit my blossoming career as a screenwriter and focused on helping her find her joy again. The challenge proved to be more and more difficult when she decided to move out of our home and “figure things out” on her own.

Normally, I wouldn’t have been such a “helicopter mom,” but finding my best friend after she had committed suicide, just a few months prior to this unexplained behavior, was enough to put me on “Mom” high alert.

I tried everything to light her fire. Knowing how creative she was, and is, I tried to get her interested in a hobby that had the potential to earn an income, like refinishing/restoring old furniture. She did make an aquarium out of an old console television, but that was unfortunately the extent of it. My final suggestion was that we take a cake decorating class together once a week. I felt like that would give me some precious time with her to try and assess which direction her heart and mind were headed.

To my extreme relief, she agreed. And so we met. And, I think to Dani’s surprise, we actually had a lot of fun, so much so that we decided to try and make a go of this new hobby we found and make it a legitimate business.

In October, 2011, we opened our first brick and mortar cupcake shop, outside of Boston, called Wicked Good Cupcakes. (If you’ve ever been to Boston, you’ll recognize the vernacular. Wicked is our go-to adjective, like “wicked smart” and “wicked pissah.”) The hours were long and the money was short, but we somehow found a way to learn on the fly and make our business work. We each focused on our strengths. Dani’s was definitely in the baking department, and mine was skewed more towards decorating. As we posted projects we were doing on Facebook, people began to order from us. The "proof of concept" was gratifying.

We were now together all the time. Dani moved back home because we weren’t able to pay ourselves in the beginning. What a blessing. It was then that we discovered she was suffering from bipolar disease and were able to get her the proper help she needed. The combination of family support, therapy sessions, and medications went a very long way.