Georgetown Cupcake co-owner Katherine Kallinis Berman became a United States citizen and celebrated by sharing cupcakes with the 449 other new citizens at the Oath of Allegiance Ceremony on Sept. 21.
At her swearing in ceremony, which took place at the Hylton Performance Center in Manassas, Va., Berman was excited to celebrate her citizenship with the other immigrants who shared in her accomplishment. The process of becoming a U.S. citizen involves meeting specific criteria through a naturalization application, as well as an interview and civics test, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The ceremony was a momentous occasion that served to celebrate both her citizenship and her journey as a female entrepreneur and immigrant, Berman said.
“Being sworn in as an American citizen was such a powerful and moving experience and I was so happy to be able to share this special moment with 449 others from 83 different countries,” Berman wrote in an email to The Hoya. “As a female entrepreneur, I am grateful for all of the opportunities this country has given me to start and grow my business and realize the American dream.”
Berman, who grew up in Canada, opened the first Georgetown Cupcake location on Potomac Street in 2008 with her sister, Sophie Kallinis LaMontagne, after they both left corporate jobs to pursue a childhood passion for baking. Georgetown Cupcake gained popularity after a positive New York Times review, and the sisters soon opened a bigger location on M Street in December 2009.
The company has since expanded to Bethesda, Md., New York City, Boston, Los Angeles and Atlanta and has over 300 employees across the country.
Berman’s success as an immigrant is an example of the positive impact of starting businesses in America, specifically businesses started by immigrants, she said.
“Starting a business from scratch is never easy, and starting Georgetown Cupcake was no exception,” Berman wrote. “Over the past ten years of navigating the growth of Georgetown Cupcake, I’ve learned that even if things are difficult, if you are willing to put in the dedication and hard work, anything is possible in this country.”
In 2010, the television channel TLC released a reality series titled “DC Cupcakes,” which documented Berman and LaMontagne’s experiences running Georgetown Cupcake. Though the show ended in 2013, the television series continues to draw attention to the Georgetown neighborhood, according to Nancy Miyahira, vice president of the Georgetown Business Improvement District.
“Georgetown Cupcake is a popular destination for visitors, especially those from around the country who may have followed their story on TLC’s DC Cupcakes show,” Miyahira wrote in an email to The Hoya. “As a neighborhood, their name has helped to increase awareness nationally for Georgetown’s commercial district as a stop while visiting Washington, D.C.”
The Georgetown community has enjoyed watching the growth of Georgetown Cupcake over the past 10 years, according to Miyahira.
“Georgetown’s business district continues to be a vibrant and energetic mixed-use neighborhood that has grown over the past ten years,” Miyahira wrote. “It’s been great to see Georgetown Cupcake grow from a small business start-up on Potomac Street to the national success story it is today, while continuing to give back to the communities it serves.”
In her time running Georgetown cupcake, Berman has also given back to the community that welcomed her and her business. Since 2018, every October, during National Bullying Prevention Month, Georgetown Cupcake offers special “Give a Little” cupcakes, with part of the proceeds benefiting the Love is Louder foundation, according to store associate Arden Fitzpatrick (COL ’20).
Georgetown Cupcake serves as a bustling business hub in Georgetown, Fitzpatrick said.
“I get to be on the pulse of the tourist scene in DC, so every shift people from all over the world are coming in and their excitement makes the store buzz with energy,” she wrote in an email to The Hoya. “I love talking to all of them and sharing my favorite flavors, and it doesn’t hurt that the store always smells like sugar.”