Today we’d like to introduce you to Rebecca Donze.
Rebecca, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I did an exchange program with UC Irvine when I was 21 and I realized by then the potential OC and LA have for French food. When I came back to France, the idea of opening a business eventually in SoCal set in my mind.
I finished my Master’s and did study pastry. I knew from the beginning “choux”, cream puffs, were my pastries of predilection. So after pastry school, I choose to work in pastry shops dedicated to cream puffs. The most educative shop for me has been L’Eclair de Genie in Paris, where I started working for their opening and stayed for a few years.
I decided in 2015 to stop working and built a business plan to set up The Sweet Nuns in LA. Two months later, I was in LA to find a space for the kitchen. It took almost a year to find my present space and obtain my Investor Visa meanwhile. Not sure I will do it again! But the rewards are here and LA has a lot of different markets for us to grow.
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?
I got lucky to find trustworthy people along the road to make it “smoother”.
Negotiating spaces is already a struggle when you want to build a kitchen. There are so many things to take into account to comply with what the Building Department requires. I must have spent at least 7 months to finally find a restaurant to remodel. And 7 more months to rebuild the space with all the back and forth with the Health Department.
On Top of that, I had to interview right before the opening with the US embassy in Paris to obtain my Investor Visa. Conjuncting the opening and the Visa was really stressing for me.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the The Sweet Nuns story. Tell us more about the business.
The Sweet Nuns is specialized in stacked cream puffs we call “nuns”, a.k.a “religieuses” in France. They are traditional French pastries; we usually find coffee or chocolate flavored nuns in our French bakeries.
We offer up to 9 different flavors, some “classic” and the rest “seasonal” to have always new flavors every month. We have a mini size puff people order for their cocktails, parties, etc., and a bigger size available also. We work a lot with production studios around LA, and we are proud to have supplied the Golden Globes last year and the Oscars this year for a post party.
Everybody likes cream puffs, most of the time, people ask us to “customize” our nuns to have the design fit with their party theme, like “owl nuns” or pastel nuns. It’s easy to sell the product, but it is tough to communicate about it in such a big city.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I came to the US on my own and I didn’t know anyone in LA. I got lucky to find good brokers and contractors to help me through the process.
As for The Sweet Nuns, we are always contacted by studios or designers for orders without the need for us to market our product much. We also have really loyal customers who refer us to friends and other businesses. We are really grateful for that.
- box of 4 regular nuns : $18
- box of 8 regular nuns : $35
- box of 10 mini nuns : $25
- “happy bday” box of 10 mini nuns : $29
- Address: 5450 W. Pico Blvd., unit 204, Los Angeles
- Website: www.thesweetnuns.com
- Phone: 323-447-2200
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @thesweetnuns
- Facebook: The Sweet Nuns