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Meet Christine Bren of Lavender Lane Baking in Orange County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Christine Bren.

Christine, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I am a psychologist who started out specializing in eating disorders. I had many nutrition classes and experience with eating behaviors. When my son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes we all had to relearn carbs and sugars and how the body metabolizes these foods. It continued on with my daughter’s diagnosis of Celiac Disease and my own Autoimmune Diseases – Lupus, Sjogren’s Syndrome, Pernicious Anemia, Vitiligo… Each diagnosis is challenging in its own way. We sought out an internist whose focus was on integrative health and specialized in treating autoimmune diseases.

She put us on a special diet which eliminated gluten, grains, dairy/lactose, refined sugars, soy and bad fats from our diets as well as encouraging us to keep unrefined sugars low. We have all improved our gut health which improved our immune system functioning as well as helped to keep inflammation low in the body to reduce fatigue, inflammation, brain fog, joint pain, and the activation of autoimmune flare-ups in the body, etc. I, myself, have more life in my life, more energy, less brain fog, less joint pain. It was a real eye-opener to understanding food as medicine, and the realization that keeping the inflammation low in the body and reaching for more plant-based, clean eating could contribute greatly to my energy levels and overall health.

In that pursuit, I realized, I needed to put my passion for baking to use in creating a compliant yet delicious treat my family could have. So I reached for what I could have and put together recipes for cookies, browning, granola, bread… all of the stuff I was missing out on. I was encouraged by so many people to make the treats available to the many people who eat this way or others who just want healthier options in their treats and snacks. I joined forces with a friend who had corporate marketing know-how, and we founded a small but mighty designated gluten-free baking kitchen. Thus, Lavender Lane Baking Co. was founded.

We bake treats and bread from scratch and ship gift boxes anywhere in the U.S., while also selling to caterers, coffee houses, hotels and soon to be a part of Bubble Goods eCommerce site and possible pop-ups at Bristol Farms. We’ve been up and running almost a year and we are so happy to be getting our goodies out so people have an option to choose healthier options and have that cookie or brownie at events such as a wedding or baby shower!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
As with any start-up, there are always bumps in the road. As my entrepreneurial uncle explains, “..running a company is as much about damage control and putting out fires, one at a time!”

I’ve been lucky to have good advisers and people who have been loyal supporters of our mission. They have helped during trials, and I always want to recognize the gratitude that I have for them. Being older and starting a new business in the food industry (far from psychology) has been challenging in many ways. Besides just the physical demands (that have plagued my feet and back, LOL!), some of the bumps could be described as learning areas.

For instance, marketing has changed considerably, even in the last few years. Understanding the influencers and SEO, SEM was an area I was perplexed by. I still occasionally struggle with website issues and also client acquisition – reaching the people we need to. Hiring employees and getting the right fit is another area that is new to me, but I continue to learn! The food industry and distribution are also very new to me – bar codes and labeling requirements… It is all new! Those challenges, (to put a positive spin on it) I chalk-up to exercising my brain so it remains flexible in its functioning!

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Lavender Lane Baking Co. story. Tell us more about the business.
Lavender Lane Baking Co. is an online bakery known for providing people with clean-baked, healthier indulgences such as cookies, brownies, granola and sandwich bread. We also have vegan and keto options available but always gluten-free and grain-free, no soy, GMOs or trans fats! We ship packaged in our lovely branded Lavender Lane Baking Co. craft boxes which make an adorable gift. Our adherence to quality and specialty area of baking with nutrient-packed ingredients sets us apart from the usual less healthy indulgences and usual gift boxes or baskets that aren’t as thoughtful for that person who is gluten-free, diet restricted, or a wellness seeker.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I grew up in the Los Angeles vicinity – on Lavender Lane in La Canada, CA – hence the name of my company! I am a Southern Californian through and through, and I LOVE our weather, sunshine and diverse group of people!

Los Angeles and Orange County are full of innovative, creative people who are also wellness seekers, and with the year-round wonderful weather, beaches and mountains, most people are outside and moving their bodies, exercising and promoting wellness pursuits. It seems like so many great people live here and are open to sharing ideas and what they’ve learned.

Plus, many healthier businesses are inspired and start here – Pressed Juicery, The Bar Method, True Food Kitchen as examples. More recently, many of the local markets are starting to catch on and make room for more diverse, healthier options. Nutritionists, Dieticians, Personal Trainers and athletes promote a healthier lifestyle with gusto! People have been so enthusiastic about our treats!

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