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Meet Sasha Gustafson of Butter Cake Shoppe in Los Feliz

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sasha Gustafson.

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 baking from home while I was finishing up my BA in Psychology at UCSB. My husband (then boyfriend) moved in with me during college and I really got into cooking and baking for the both of us – I was super excited to have someone to share meals with every day! I started falling more and more in love with baking and it was then, that I decided I’d head off to culinary school and where better than Paris to learn the art of cooking?! I graduated Le Cordon Bleu and headed back to LA. I worked in restaurants and didn’t care for plating desserts and felt like cakes were calling my name! I eventually got hired at a cake bakery where I worked my way up the chain over the next 6 years, starting as a beginning cake decorator to eventually being a head bakery and then helping with training, recipe development, streamlining and more. Throughout those years, I was also baking for my friends and family from home. I eventually opened a Yelp account and as the years went by I gained more and more positive reviews on Yelp and business started really booming. I got to the point where I was working two full-time jobs and had to decide which one I’d stick with before I burnt out… I chose myself! That was in 2014 and Butter Cake Shoppe was born. I set up my dining room to look like a small cake studio where I help private tastings, consultations, and cake pickups. After only 6 months of quitting my job, I moved into the cake studio I’m in today! We’ve been here for about 2.5 years and are less than a year away from opening our storefront bakery with beverages and seating in Virgil Village.

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?
Most definitely not. This job is tough. Baking and decorating require a lot of patience, heavy lifting, and hard manual labor. Not only was this tough on me physically, but running a business itself is challenging – checking emails, phone calls, meeting with guests, baking and finishing the product, handling and ensuring smooth deliveries, dealing with any criticism and figuring out to handle any negative feedback, etc. It’s been a rough journey of self-learning but also self-discovery, and that’s been the best part. I truly came to love what I do, and being my own boss has also allowed me to live my best life – though it hasn’t been short of sweat, battle wounds with the oven, loads of tears, plenty of nights working until the early hours of the morning. But through all of that, I’ve loved every minute of that. If I didn’t, I don’t think I’d be where I am today – months away from opening my dream bakery in Los Angeles and fully embracing the road to entrepreneurship.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Butter Cake Shoppe – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Butter Cake Shoppe is a custom cake studio specializing in creating unique cakes and desserts for any occasion from weddings, to birthdays, graduations and even divorce parties! We pair deliciously moist cakes with Italian buttercream, a buttercream style that’s hard to find in East LA. Our best sellers include classic vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream, red velvet cake with cream cheese buttercream, and our strawberry chiffon cake with fresh strawberries and vanilla buttercream – yum! Our chocolate chip cookies infused with rainbow sprinkles are also one of our biggest sellers. If you haven’t had Italian buttercream before – it’s not like many buttercreams you’ll find at other bake shops. It’s very buttery, light and rich all at the same time. I had no idea how it would be accepted so it took a lot of guts to roll with it, but 9 years later, after selling cakes on craigslist to owning a bakery with a solid 5 start streak on Yelp, I can tell people can’t get enough of it.

The fact that I rolled the dice and stuck with what I know is good and never gave up on that – that’s what I’m most proud of. Our priority is to ensure that anyone who walks through our doors is 100% satisfied with what they’ve gotten. We always check in with our guests to see how everything went and if they’re ever unsatisfied with something we always make sure to correct it. I take feedback very seriously because I feel like it’s important to know how to learn from our mistakes and how to continue to improve because the challenge never ends. I feel that this is what sets us apart. Every opportunity for a custom cake design is another growth opportunity for me as a baker and an artist. I am constantly willing to challenge myself and take on designs that force me to grow and challenge myself,

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Currently, we’re working on opening our first commercial storefront bakery, offering beverages and seating, in Virgil Village later this year. This is the most exciting, yet most difficult task I’ve ever taken on. It has sucked all life out of me for the last 9 months, but it’s all I’ve ever dreamed of and I can’t believe it’s actually happening! As to what will happen next? I can’t really tell you. This entire journey has been about me just rolling with the punches – everything has happened naturally and on its own time.

Pricing:

  • All custom cakes are a $300 minimum

Contact Info:

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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