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Meet Jaime Hardesty of Daisy Lou Sweets

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jaime Hardesty.

Hi Jaime, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I started baking at a young age. Not unlike many children of the 80s, my favorite toy was my Easy Bake Oven. I also grew up in a family that cooked and baked as an expression of love. My grandmother loved to bake and often gave me the leftover dough to play with. My mother spent hours filling the kitchen with holiday cookies. We always had homemade decorated birthday cakes. My father and brother participated in several cub scouts cake decorating competitions. When I grew older, my parents shared recipes, tips, and tricks for baking beautiful desserts.

After graduate school, I started working as a counselor. Working in an office of social servants, we held self-care and looking after one another as a priority, and that always meant celebrating special occasions and birthdays. I became the office baker and loved my role, knowing it was an expression of love and appreciation. From that point on, baking became my therapy.

After some years of contemplation, I finally decided to open my own baking business always from a licensed home kitchen; it started in the Chicago suburbs of Indiana in 2009, then moved to DC in 2011, and I have been operating in Los Angeles since 2014. I continue to work for the US Dept of Veterans Affairs where I assist Veterans with their disability compensation. During my off time, I run my bakery, Daisy Lou Sweets, a licensed Cottage Food Operation through LA County. My desserts are always vegan and always made with love and compassion, that I hope my amazing customers feel.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Yes and no, but what made my road smooth is also limiting. I have the luxury of baking from my licensed home, so I don’t have the expenses of a Los Angeles storefront. However, my business can only grow so much while operating it single-handedly from my home. The costs of running a small business are much greater than big name chain bakeries. Not only are supplies considerably more expensive to buy in smaller bulk quantities, but the space to store supplies and run the business is also limited. That also means if an order goes awry, my small business suffers a much larger loss in product, expenses, and time, than a typical large scale bakery.

Also, most of my desserts are custom-made per order, so I had a difficult time keeping up with orders. So many customers didn’t want anything specific but simply wanted something that was readily available, which became fairly difficult to produce. This year I began offering a flavor of the week to streamline business. Once someone places a custom order, that is offered to everyone as the flavor of the week and is produced in larger quantities rather than for one customer. This simple new process has received an amazing response. That being said, I am incredibly grateful that business went well for me during this past year, knowing so many small businesses struggled. I was very fortunate that food delivery services were among the handful of essential businesses to remain open throughout pandemic, and since my home is licensed, I didn’t have to close a storefront. It should also be mentioned that the pandemic, lock-down, and social distancing really took an emotional toll on all of us, and my customers said having custom, vegan sweets delivered to them helped their brighten their days and lift their spirits.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Daisy Lou Sweets is a woman-owned, vegan bakery entirely operated by Jaime Hardesty. Located in the Beverly Grove neighborhood, I create and deliver custom, vegan desserts primarily to the greater Los Angeles area for many types of events including birthdays, showers, weddings, film and entertainment events, community fundraisers, and local business partnership events. I have a few personal and customer favorites, such as carrot, red velvet, and cinnamon streusel cakes; although the carrot is by far what I’m most proud of. It’s always been a fan favorite and is a spin-off from my mother’s carrot cake that people used to rave over when she made it. I also place a lot of energy and attention to detail in my creations; I love going over the top with candies, cookies, sprinkles, edible gold leaf, and incorporating other desserts like cupcakes, cookies, and sweet rolls into cakes. My vegan customers love my sweets for obvious reasons, but I love that my non-vegan customers love my sweets because they can’t tell a difference.

I think in the current moment, people really want to know where their money is going and what the companies they patronize represent. My customers love that I provide quality, organic vegan sweets that they know are compassionately and ethically sourced. I don’t use any products, materials, or brands that have been associated with animal testing or mistreatment of any kind. Additionally, I have been working in the social services field for nearly 25 years as a counselor and an advocate for Veterans and individuals with disabilities. I think this is why I find so much fulfillment in baking for others; it provides my own creative and therapeutic outlet, and it’s another way outside of counseling that I can help someone feel good. Over the years, I have donated my time and sweets to a variety of non-profit community programs and budding projects as well, including local scholarship programs for high school young women, ultra running events, and indie film projects; supporting other women-owned, minority-owned, and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses is crucial; I focus on these businesses when obtaining products for my business, and also when investing time and energy into partnership events.

Can you talk to us about how you think about risk?
I have always been a calculated risk taker. Having always been a single mother, I felt as though I had to work twice as hard to earn what I needed to provide for my family, so I couldn’t afford to risk any of that on leaps of faith. Although my daughter is grown, we still maintain that philosophy of thinking through our decisions, considering the unknowns and outcomes, and then making as much of an informed decision as possible. Often, my very supportive customers ask me when I am going to open an actual storefront bakery. Of course that has been a dream of mine for years and I would love to own a beautiful bakery; but given the economy, the cost of retail space in Los Angeles, and the impact of pandemic, I am still convinced that the Cottage Food Operation is the best option for me at this time. Thankfully I have a great customer base and I have been able generate and run my business primarily online and through word of mouth.

Pricing:

  • Cakes starting at $75
  • Cupcakes starting at $38 dozen
  • Pies starting at $35
  • Cheesecakes starting at $40
  • Cookies $25 dozen

Contact Info:


Image Credits:

Karan Singh

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