Alumni run local pastry shop Polkadots Cupcake Factory

Kate Beispel

UT alumna Olga Lee’s Polkadots Cupcake Factory began with an Easy-Bake Oven.

As a little girl, her parents refused to buy Olga her own toy oven, so she resorted to using her friend’s to bake pastries for loved ones.

“I begged my mom to buy me an Easy-Bake Oven,” Olga said. “Now I have my own little store with a real one.”

Since then, Olga has earned an engineering degree, quit her corporate job and become co-owner of the West Campus pastry shop Polkadots Cupcake Factory. She and her husband, UT alumnus Ben Lee, spend their days baking cupcakes and cookies for weddings, parties and walk-in customers.

In the summer of 2008, Olga left her job as an engineer, and Ben left his position at Dell to pursue their baking dreams. Aside from their shared affinity for baking, Olga said she and Ben had always hoped to own their own business.

“I told my boss ‘I’m going to leave my company in 12 weeks, and I’m going to pursue a bakery with my husband,’” Olga said. “So I switched to baking full-time and never looked back.”

While driving around Austin, Ben discovered an old home built in 1908 he thought would be the perfect location for the bakery. The couple decided to set up shop in the small and colorful building that stands on the corner of 28th and Rio Grande streets. Inside, there are glass cases filled with Olga’s creations, from lipstick-shaped cookies to circus-tent cakes.  

Five cupcake flavors are available daily in the store, with seven other flavors offered on a rotating basis, and customers can place speciality cupcake and cookie orders. Olga said they also offer wedding cake and cupcake consultations and taste testings.

“I like wedding cakes for their craft nature, rather than the art nature of birthday cakes,” Olga said.

With a location so close to campus, Olga said students frequently visit Polkadots. She said working near campus makes her reflect on her time in school, and she credits UT for helping her make the connections she needed to be successful. She said one of her main focuses right now is building up her reputation and client base within the UT community.

“I think the thing that helped me most is having created a base of people to contact,” Olga said. “What I like is not only creating more UT jobs around campus but also the opportunity to meet new people every day.”

After years of not being satisfied with her old job, Olga said she has developed a positive attitude toward work since owning her own business.

“The best part of owning a business is that you don’t get an entitlement attitude toward work,” Olga said. “That attitude filters out to all different parts of your life and it can help you feel content in all facets of your life.”

Olga said her love for baking isn’t going away, and she doesn’t plan to return to an office job anytime soon.

“I think [baking] is almost therapeutic,” Olga said. “I like how things are going right now. I get to do something I love and make enough money doing it to live.”