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Meet Tiffany Peterson of Little Sugar Kitchen in Torrance

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tiffany Peterson.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
It was 2007, I had just started college. I spent hours on school work that I hated. I spent even more hours at a part-time job, folding an endless amount of clothes wondering what I was going to do with my life. I finally found a full-time job as a bakery packager at my local grocery store. I immediately took notice of the cake decorator and all the beautiful cakes that she would make.

One day she asked me if I wanted to try decorating one. I remember the excitement of the possibilities of that pre-frozen, quarter sheet cake. I decorated it with pastel pink, green and yellow buttercream and far too many ruffles. Something clicked that day. That cake combined two of my favorite things in life: art and baking. This was right before baking shows became a phenomenon, so I had never considered a career in pastry before.

After that, I wanted to create as many unique cakes as I could. I was told many times to stick to pre-fabricated designs and to be as plain as possible. I was told that I could never be a good cake decorator. Granted, during this period I was learning and committed many cake faux pas. However, all of the rejection and ugly buttercream roses only made me more passionate to become proficient at what I loved.

It took me a few years, but I finally mastered a number of basic techniques and held several amazing bakery positions. In 2015, I decided it was time to enroll in a pastry program. I received my associate’s degree and became the first person in my immediate family to graduate college. From there, I continued to improve my baking skills, teach cake decorating classes and entered several cake competitions.

I always knew that I wanted to have my own business someday, but it seemed very far off in the future. I wanted to share my voice and passion in a more personal way. Then in January of 2018, I found myself in a position where I had the opportunity to do so. I decided to take a leap of faith and begin the Cottage Food Law process. If you are unfamiliar with the term, Cottage Food Law allows you to license your home kitchen to produce low-risk foods for sale.

It took me about six months to establish Little Sugar Kitchen and determine what I wanted to say to the world with my desserts. I have now officially been in business for nine months and became the first woman in my family to own a business. This process has definitely been challenging, but I am very happy with the decision that I made. I am excited to see Little Sugar Kitchen grow and make everyone’s day a little sweeter.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I knew that starting a business would be difficult. However, the number of difficulties that came with the territory was more than I imagined. I am continuously learning new things about business and myself. The largest challenge is acquiring the same type of benefits that are normally received from a typical 9-5 job, such as a steady income and health insurance.

Becoming a sole proprietor is very different than clocking in and out of an establishment. Your hard work does not necessarily guarantee the salary and benefits that you may be used to. Developing a business plan that will allow you to have those necessities for yourself is the most important factor of any new company.

Many people hold the idea that making desserts is less challenging than other careers. While it is definitely my favorite thing to do, there is a never-ending amount of hard work that comes along with it. I am consistently marketing Little Sugar Kitchen on as many social media outlets as I can because I do not have a traditional storefront (yet). I have found that participating in my local farmer’s markets, pop-up shops and fairs have really been a great platform for many of these challenges that come with owning a new business like mine.

Please tell us about Little Sugar Kitchen.
The purpose of Little Sugar Kitchen is to provide our community with happiness through our baked goods. In my family, when we celebrate, there is always dessert. I want to be able to share that with others. I love all types of sweets. However, my favorite ones are always simple, like that classic yellow cake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles. For many people, simple desserts evoke a certain type of joy. Our menu is a reflection of those classic comfort treats. We specialize in cakes, cookies, cupcakes, and pies. Still, it is not enough to be simple.

In our world, much of the food we consume is processed. Quantity is more important than quality. It is not common to be able to go to a restaurant, and your meal be unprocessed. It is so uncommon that many people are simply unaware of the difference between a grocery store cake and a cake that is made from scratch. I want to be able to change the direction of the way our food is made, even if it is in a small form. Everything we make is intentionally made in small batches, by hand. We use eggs, flour, butter and sugar in all of our products. We will never serve something that comes from a package or pre-frozen.

If you order a dozen of our Salted Chocolate Chip cookies, rest assured they will have just been baking in the oven a few hours before they are in your hands. If you order a custom cake from us, it will not be a cake that is replicated from a picture. Every detail will be customized to your vision. I am first and foremost an artist. I use sugar to create happiness in a visual form that makes for long-lasting memories. That is something that I am the most proud of.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I was not old enough to remember this, but there is a picture of me in my grandma’s kitchen as a baby attempting to read a cookbook to my stuffed, toy dog. I love that picture. I spent many years learning to bake in her kitchen. We always do the most baking around the holidays. During Christmas, we always have a table just for cookies.

Sometimes we would have 12 different types of cookies, which far outnumbered the amount of dinner dishes that were available. The sugar cookies, snickerdoodles, apple pie and pumpkin bread that we sell are all recipes that we have enjoyed as a family for many years. It brings me great joy to be able to share that with others.

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