When Theresa Deliberto's close friend Susan Dietrich approached her in 2001 and asked for support as she battled breast cancer, Deliberto didn't hesitate.
"She needed someone to be there all the time and she trusted me," Deliberto said. "She didn't want to be a burden to everyone else."
The Pasadena resident and La Cañada High School graduate was at Dietrich's side through seven years of doctor's visits and chemotherapy treatments. A La Cañada-based veterinarian, Dietrich continued to work right up until her death in March 2008.
"[Veterinary care] was her absolute passion," Deliberto said. "People still come up to me and say, 'She saved my dog, she gave us two more years.' That was absolutely her baby."
Deliberto, founder of Cupcake Cuties, an Internet-based business that sells themed cupcake-decorating kits, was looking for a way to remember Dietrich, as well as two dozen other family members and acquaintances who had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
This month, in conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Deliberto released "Cuties for the Cure," a breast-cancer-awareness-themed decorating kit. The company will donate 5% of revenue from each kit to the Susan G. Komen L.A. County Foundation.
"It was absolutely on my mind to do something that benefited breast cancer, and to honor [Dietrich] and honor her legacy," Deliberto said. "Also, my mom is a breast-cancer survivor, and two of my best friends are breast-cancer survivors."
The kits include all the supplies needed to decorate cupcakes, but not the actual cupcake mix or frosting, Deliberto said. The kits include 24 sleeves (to line the outside of the cupcakes), decorative pink-ribbon sprinkles and a pastry bag (used to apply the frosting).
Loyal customer DeeDee Montesanto said the cupcake kits are the perfect fix when she is trying to prepare a dessert in a hurry.
"I personally love the fact that it all comes in one box," Montesanto said. "Making them is just so quick. It is the best dessert for the least amount of time."
Cupcake Cuties is not Deliberto's first business venture. She had a long career in sales and marketing, and in the mid-2000s started Just Like Family Inc., a care-management service firm also born out of her experience caring for Dietrich.
Her goal, Deliberto said, is to grow Cupcake Cuties to the point where it can support her work with Just Like Family, and convert the business into a non-profit organization.
For now, however, she is focused on decorating cupcakes. And orders for the breast-cancer-awareness-themed kits, as well as kits with other themes (there are 32 total), have been pouring in. Deliberto is now conducting much of her business out of a warehouse in North Hollywood, and she is in negotiations to sell the kits through major retailers.
Cupcakes are the perfect treat to take to a neighborhood gathering or school party, Deliberto said, and the decorating kits allow users to take their cupcakes to the next level of fun.
"When you buy the kit, all you need is cupcakes and frosting," Deliberto said. "Cupcakes are just easier to bring [to events]. They are just much more fun, and you don't have to bring a knife. At almost every wedding I have been to in the last few years there has been cupcakes rather than the traditional cake."