Today we’d like to introduce you to Jen Stone.
Jen, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I discovered my love for baking years ago when I baked a cake for a friend’s bridal shower. Ever since then, I have sought out opportunities to bake sweet treats for friends and family. I was baking for birthday parties, showers, outdoor cookouts, ladies’ night outs, etc.
Then when our son was born, I took time out from Corporate America to stay home with him. I am not what I would consider a “granola mom,” but I do believe strongly in feeding him organically, unprocessed foods. I made his food from scratch, which was primarily vegetables and grains. He was 8 months old before he ever had a fruit, and then it was pear mixed with spinach and kale.
As his birthday got closer, I began to stress about his smash cake. I didn’t know how his body would process bleached flour and fat, and I certainly didn’t want to deal with the sugar rush and ensuing crash. Yet, I also wasn’t willing to accept serving a mediocre cake to our party guests. After all, I had become known for my stuffed cupcakes! That is when the idea for Little Z’s Cakery was born — a bake shop that specializes in kids’ birthday cakes.
We are a fully-licensed, home-based bakery in Redondo Beach, California, baking custom treats for any occasion. We offer a variety of options from traditional cakes with smooth buttery frosting (because let’s face it, sometimes we just need a bite of that sugar-laden dessert) to the naturally sweetened smash cake to allergy-friendly treats. All are custom made from scratch for each occasion to meet each family’s wishes. We provide free delivery in the South Bay.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
As a home-based business, I continuously assessing how to best meet the needs of families in the South Bay and spend quality time with our son. I hate to turn away orders, but sometimes I do. My philosophy is that I would rather turn someone away than to accept an order to which I cannot dedicate the necessary time. My goal is for each and every customer to love the way their baked goods taste and look and to call again for the next party. I cannot do that if I do not appropriately balance my time.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Little Z’s Cakery – what should we know?
Little Z’s Cakery bakes custom treats for just about any event. Our passion is kids’ birthday cakes. There is nothing more adorable than a little one diving into his or her first cake! Smash cakes are designed with photo opportunities in mind for a first birthday photo session or birthday party. We enjoy designing cakes that will draw excitement and believe 3D cakes make perfect centerpieces. We don’t bake the same thing twice because we customize every order according to the customer’s wishes!
We want to ensure every customer and child has a memorable cake, and we certainly do not want to exclude those with allergies or dietary restrictions. We offer gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, paleo, and vegan options. We also offer lactation cookies for nursing mothers. We limit the use of artificial flavorings and colors. For the most part, coloring is only used for decorating cakes and cupcakes and is not added to batter or fillings.
There is no shortage of bakeries, both retail and home-based, in the South Bay. However, we do things a little differently at Little Z’s Cakery. Everything that leaves our kitchen is baked from scratch. We do not use mixes or premade frostings, and we do not freeze our cakes. Each week we review our orders and plan exactly what items will be baked/assembled on which days. This allows us to deliver baked goods that are freshly made.
Who else deserves credit – have you had mentors, supporters, cheerleaders, advocates, clients or teammates that have played a big role in your success or the success of the business? If so – who are they and what role did they plan / how did they help.
As a seven year old, I convinced my mom to sign us up for a Wilton cake decorating class. I was the youngest in the class by far. In fact, they would not let me take the class alone, thus my mother had to register too. As you would guess, my clown was not the most technical in the class; however, I was the most enthusiastic. Both my parents encouraged me as I periodically played in the kitchen. After graduating college, I had a couple of months with my parents before moving out of state for my first full-time job. That summer I began experimenting with healthier baking recipes: yogurt-based cheesecakes, low sugar tarts, etc.
Several years later when I baked for a friend’s bridal shower, I realized I wanted to own a bakery sometime. I took pictures of that bride cake, but it was an early version digital camera and the photos ended up lost. A year later, I recreated the bride but changed the color of her dress to make it a birthday cake. Somehow those pictures ended up getting lost as well. Each time, however, friends encouraged me to keep capturing my cakes. My baking picked up before I opened Little Z’s Cakery. One friend was very insistent that I document everything I baked. I thought she was going a little overboard, but she was right. I needed those photos for my social media. Another friend bought me a cookbook with nothing but cake recipes. I have modified the recipes, but the book still sits on my counter to this day.
The final push came from an awesome group of mom friends. They could see my excitement when I talked about baking. They asked me questions that forced me to reflect on my dream. It was because of those conversations that I realized there is, indeed, a market for Little Z’s Cakery. They became my first customers and advocates.
And last but not least, my two best friends: my husband and sister. My husband has supported me as I put a successful consulting career on hold. He has entertained our son on more than one occasion when I needed dedicated and undistracted time to finish a cake. He has surprised me with new baking equipment and supplies when he knew I was stressed. My sister lives out of state, but she has also been a huge cheerleader. She helped me brainstorm names for the bakery and to bring my vision for the logo to life. She monitors my social media and lets me know when I hit a new record number of likes. She encourages me to think outside the box when I’m struggling with a cake design.
I am forever grateful to all my friends, family, and customers who have supported Little Z’s Cakery!
- Phone: 424.262.LILZ (5459)
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/Little_Zs_Cakery
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/LittleZsCakery
Ben Graham, Jen Stone