Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessica Bose.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I started my business when I was 16 years old in high school. I don’t think I realized what I was getting myself into when I printed my own business cards and had logo stamps made. At the time, I was “Jessica’s Custom Cakes & Desserts.”
My customers consisted of teenage boys in search of a last-minute gift for their Valentine and family friends with sons who had dinosaur-themed birthday parties. I worked both out of my parent’s kitchen and the restaurant kitchen at my high school. I owe a major shout out to my restaurant teacher, Kristin, who connected me with students and teachers who needed cakes for parties and banquets. I’m also grateful for the encouragement and support she provided me with when I decided to apply to pastry school.
I left my cake business for a few years while I lived in Providence, Rhode Island to attend Johnson & Wales University. I started a blog in the midst of my freshman year. The blog, alittlebaker.com was created to document my classwork. The recipes came straight from my textbook. A few months later, when I moved into my first apartment with a functioning kitchen, I started playing with ingredients and testing my own recipes. The successful recipes made it on my blog, most with poorly lit photos, all of which can still, embarrassingly, be found on my site.
As time went by, my recipe archive grew, my photography improved, and I fell in love with writing about life as it connects to food. I booked my schedule, already packed with two jobs and full-time classwork, with intense writing courses. As graduation neared and the unavoidable and completely annoying question of, “What do you want to do when you are done with school?” arose, I replied, “I am going to be a food writer.”
I moved to Los Angeles in January of 2016, where I took a job as a Barista at Intelligentsia Coffee. I also landed multiple food writing jobs for startup websites no one had ever heard of. I took photos and videos of my work for social media, and before I knew it, I started receiving DMs asking me how much I would charge for a birthday cake. I was weary about whether I had the time or energy to start producing cakes again. Let’s just say, I have a hard time saying no.
My first big job was a wedding cake I baked in my tiny apartment in LA and finished in the kitchen at MIllwick, a gorgeous venue in the Arts District. I walked in with my head held high trying to radiate as much confidence as a professional 22-year-old could possibly have. I stacked and finished my cake by threading beautiful purple and white flowers in the icing. When I finished, my heart was pumping with adrenaline and I tried to keep my cool as I set the cake down on the dessert table and was bombarded with guests asking for my business card.
The orders poured in. Most days, I pulled my body out of bed at 4 am to work 14 hour days, serving coffee in the morning and baking cakes well into the evening. My eyes grew tired and my feet were sore, but I absolutely loved every minute of it. Meanwhile, I was still working to write for websites and found myself published in print for the first time in Chickpea Magazine (you can now find me in many of their issues!).
I’m speaking in past tense now because I’ve just ended my career as a barista to become a full-time recipe tester, food writer, and cake baker. I’ll be relocating to Park City, UT for this career shift, but will be returning to LA multiple times next year for a handful of wedding cake jobs! In the meantime, I still write for my blog and am well on my way to producing my first book, so if you’re into plant-based camp cooking/baking, keep an eye out for that!
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Running a business is both the most difficult and rewarding thing I’ve ever done. Now, keep in mind, it’s just me. I don’t have the staff to help me out, which means I take full responsibility for everything including finances, planning, production, and delivery.
There were a few instances where I wasn’t sure how on earth I’d find the time to finish a cake, but also believed there was a way, even if it meant sleeping 2 hours that night.
I quickly learned how valuable sleep was to my success, and did my best to give myself the rest I needed to function. However, the constant feeling of exhaustion remained my largest battle. It doesn’t exactly help that I held a high-stress leadership position at the busiest coffee shop in LA, but hey, we do what we gotta do to pay the bills.
I completed many of my jobs with my eyes half open and didn’t have much of a life outside of work, but at the same time, I see these as minor sacrifices. I have this motivational quote by John C. Maxwell on a sticky note attached to my desktop that reads, “Dreams don’t work unless you do.” I look at it every single day, and somehow, it got me here.
Please tell us about A Little Baker.
A Little Baker is a blog and baking business. I specialize in cakes and am known for my ability to customize anything to fit dietary restrictions and requests. About 80% of my cakes are vegan. I use whole, organic ingredients and natural dyes. I do my best to give everything a clean, natural feel from the inside out. I spend all my free time outside, camping and hiking, and am constantly inspired by nature. I decorate with buttercream, fresh flowers, and self-made cake toppers.
Honestly, it’s hard to find cakes in LA that can be customized to be vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, processed sugar-free, etc. If someone requests a cake from me and I don’t already have a recipe for it, I will take the time to develop one. Much of the time, I lose money doing this, but I feel it’s a small price to pay for the end result. I’d rather create something perfect and stunning over something just good enough.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I really wish I had the confidence to network earlier in the game. Even still, I find myself holding back in talking about my business, and I usually don’t unless someone else brings it up first. I actually very shy and have a slight fear of sounding full of myself.
Toward the end of my barista career, I really put myself out there and found that most of the time, people were extremely interested. It made me realize that I need to talk about it first if I want anyone else to talk about it (word of mouth is a magical thing).
- Website: http://www.alittlebaker.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @jessicabose
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alittlebakerjess/
Geffen Shichor https://www.instagram.com/gshichor/