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Meet Kimberly Bailey of The Butter End Cakery in Gardena

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kimberly Bailey.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
During my first year in California, ten years ago, life delivered a present to me: Cancer. I say it was the best pressie in the strangest wrapping.

After a few days of devastation, a switch flipped… I became a happy, fearless beast, filled daily with a crazed desire to create, to cook, to paint, to sculpt… anything I could get my hands on became my canvas.

I quickly found that feeding other people and gifting them cakes made them happy… which in turn made me happy! Happy people don’t have time to worry about things like cancer.

Once I started designing cakes, it was clear that this would be the next chapter in my life. I became obsessed with my new hobby, spending hours around the clock working on new designs and teaching myself about the materials and processes, and trying new things. I took photos of the cakes and then gifted them to friends.

During my third round of chemo, my nurse looked over my shoulder as I was uploading photos into my homemade website on my laptop. She said, “those are really pretty cakes… did you make those?” I proudly said yes, and explained that I was going to open a bakery. She asked if I would make her birthday cake for her 40th birthday which was that coming weekend. It was my first paid job… and I was off to the races!

The amazing thing about creating cakes at that time was the immediate soul-satisfying rush of the art and the benefit of planning for something in the future: my budding business. When your head and hands are busy planning and creating, joy replaces fear. Art replaces worry.

It has been an amazing eight years since opening my shop in Santa Monica. I built a brand new commercial kitchen in 2010, only to fall victim to an evil landlord in 2016 who raised my rent 240% with 60 days notice to get out. I had to decide if I was going to fold the company or rebuild somewhere else. I decided to rebuild – and grow! I quickly found a property to buy in Gardena, which is a really cool neighborhood in LA that has tremendous potential!

My new building is a super cool industrial space with giant windows. In the back, there are two shipping containers which serve as my workshop for building custom armatures, and anything else my imagination dreams up.

The big studio space is perfect for hosting classes of all kinds. In addition to the decorating classes that I teach, I invite fine artists and culinary artists who I admire to come to teach as well. We host live model sculpting classes, and even recently hosted Ray Villafane, world renowned pumpkin artist, who taught pumpkin carving!

My small staff of five holds it all down when I’m busy filming shows for Food Network or the Hallmark Channel. I’m constantly grateful to my ladies for keeping the standards high!

This year continues to deliver more surprises… as they say, it is the best of times and the worst of times. I had my first baby at 48, which is a joy beyond measure. My happiness was tempered at 34 weeks pregnant, by a lump that I felt in my remaining breast. The cancer was back… only this time, it didn’t feel much like a gift.

Last week I finished my fourth and final round of chemo. Scans show that cancer ran scared from the chemo, and has all but disappeared! So, I will prepare for another mastectomy in a few weeks and an oophorectomy in the future. Turns out I was misdiagnosed ten years ago and am, indeed, BRCA1 positive.

I don’t plan on dancing again with this devil.

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?
Running a small business is rarely smooth! Hahaha… you only do it because it feeds you like nothing else.

The biggest challenge I’ve faced is scaling. Because what I do is entirely custom and artful, it is difficult to grow the business. We can only build a handful of cakes a week. It’s not like we can ship hundreds of them. They are made by hand, some taking 70 hours or more to make. Then, we drive them within an eight-hour radius of Los Angeles.

Of course, I could have done without my evil landlord in Santa Monica raising my rent 240% with 60 days notice just five years in. Building a commercial kitchen is a big (expensive) undertaking. Walking away from that investment was painful – but I decided to rebuild.

Lesson learned: don’t increase someone else’s property value.

So, I bought my own property. In Gardena.

I love the vibe in Gardena. You can feel the energy shifting here. There are growth and opportunity in abundance, and we love being a part of that!

My new studio space is a canvas ready for new and wonderful things for me and my company.

Even the new space had its own challenges. Just five months after the construction was complete, a woman drove her SUV through the front of my building! Unlicensed and uninsured. You just can’t make this stuff up! Thankfully no one was hurt by my staff, and the women in the car weren’t badly hurt.

When my staff asked if I wanted to cancel the tasting meetings for that night? I asked, “is anyone hurt? no? well, then, let’s sweep up the car parts and just carry on with our day!” (another gift of cancer… it puts EVERYTHING in perspective!)

I delayed the construction so that we could film Ridiculous Cakes for Food Network in the space. It all works itself out. It always does!

So, as you know, we’re impressed with The Butter End Cakery – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
The Butter End has become known as the cake shop to the stars. We specialize in not only the most creative designs but pride ourselves on the tastiest cake in all of the land. We make grandma’s cake… moist and delicious, and we use only the finest and local (when possible) ingredients.

While some cake businesses are better known with signature styles, I’m happiest when we are challenged to create cakes that keep our clients in mind, not us. This means that we create designs every week that are completely custom for our clients.

We crack local cage-free eggs and use only hormone-free butter, pure extracts, the finest chocolates and organic produce for all of our baking.

Truly… they do taste as good as they look!

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
In the near term, we will be adding more classes to the studio, and growing our custom cake business. In the long term, well… there have been talks about a retail store on the west side and creating a line of products that we can ship.

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Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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