For today's Just Bakecause Community Feature, I have the pleasure of introducing Courtney and Celia from Cake & Caramel! Based in the Bay Area, CA, these two friends combined their love of business and baking to create a company revolved around their favorites: cake and caramel. Read their stories below to learn how they started, what their company mission is, and where they find their inspiration! Links to their information will be provided at the end (they ship nationwide!).
1. Did either of you ever think you would go into the food business?
Courtney: I always knew I wanted to be in the food industry - although I never thought I'd end up starting my own food business. I completed my undergraduate studies in Public Health, and believed I would end up going into nutrition… a few years later I now co-own a confectionary company… a little ironic given my original desire to go into the field of nutrition & health… but hey, everything in moderation, am I right?! ☺
Celia: I've always loved to bake, and enjoyed exploring the food scene both locally and while traveling abroad, but I didn't really think I'd end up with my own food business. In fact, when I was an undergrad, I was planning on going to law school - so that's quite a different path. Instead I ended up in business school. I've always loved to create, and running a business has been really fulfilling so far.
2. What were your fears in starting a business?
Courtney: The responsibility, primarily. Realizing that I am responsible for not only myself, but for my co-founder as well as any employees we hire. We are responsible for making sure their time with C+C is enjoyable and fulfilling, as well as making sure we can always cover paychecks :)
Celia: Definitely the financial aspects - like forgoing income initially, etc.
3. You always hear that partnering with friends is risky, especially in business. What made you feel confident in going into business together, and do you have any advice for those considering this option?
Courtney: Celia and I have worked together in the past. In getting to know her, I instantly realized her work ethic as well as talents. Luckily enough, we have different skill sets/specialties/work histories but a similar passion for good food, which make us a good team. I can honestly say I was never nervous in our partnership not working out.
Celia: I second that! Also, we didn't know each other super well on a personal level before starting Cake & Caramel Co. Our friendship developed more as we worked together, which I think also gave us the space to be honest and upfront with one another. I think it's important to both hear and consider a partner's opinion, but understand when to forgo flexibility and stay true to a conviction you might have. Also, there is rarely a "right" answer in business, so sometimes doing something that you may not have considered might turn out to be great! And I think I got lucky!
4. What are your dreams and goals for Cake & Caramel Co.?
Courtney: When Celia and I were envisioning what type of company we wanted to start, we came across Noisette Bakehouse, on Pinterest. The company sells baked goods out of a renovated citroën van. We fell in love with the concept of selling cakes & caramels out of a cute trailer. A few months later, we purchased a 1957 Calcraft "canned ham trailer" and are currently starting the renovation process so we can take that baby out to the streets!
Celia: I'd love to grow in terms of size and scale, while staying connected to our customers, employees, mission, ingredients, selves, and more. Right now, I'm excited to start work on our trailer, and increase our presence and brand recognition in California!
5. Where do you get your inspiration from for your flavors and design?
Courtney: I get flavor inspirations from California's agriculture. We really like to take ingredients that are local and create a cool and unusually good flavor.
Celia: For me, it's a mix: definitely the Bay Area's food scene, and traveling. We love combining unexpected ingredients like orange and rosemary in our caramels, or honey and lavender. Those caramels are amazing! I've spent a good amount of time in Europe, and I love older, classic, rustic elements in both food and design. I shy away from anything overly sweet or artificial.
6. Your instagram feed is absolutely gorgeous! Do most of your clients find you through there?
Celia: Wow, thank you! It always feels like a work in progress. Actually, I'd say most of our customers come from direct face-to-face interaction, or through purchasing our caramels at retail.
7. Is there a recipe you would like to share? OR If there is one dessert (besides caramels/cake) that anyone should master, what would it be?
Celia: Hm, a dessert BESIDES caramel or cake (WHY would you need that?!). Just kidding :-) Definitely having a good chocolate chip cookie in your repertoire is key. You can make big batches and save the dough in the freezer - then bake whenever! I love these from Butter & Brioche.
8. I love that both of your stories involve growing up around sweets and baking. Does baking provide a type of nostalgia; what is the best part about baking for you?
Courtney: Growing up, every holiday my mom and I would make caramels for all of our loved ones. It was not only a way to give something to those we care about, but also a bonding experience for my mom and me. We would chat for hours about the important and not so important things in life. Hence, every time I make caramel, my mind goes back to those precious moments growing up – which is definitely the best part of making caramel for me.
Celia: Absolutely, baking for me imparts a feeling of coziness. It makes me feel relaxed, like I'm creating a homey space. It's almost like creating an image or being part of a storybook. I also just love being able to make something with my hands. My family is German, so I've also always loved German cakes, and the ones my grandmother used to make when I was small. Cake is a big part of German culture - and Germans will invite each other over for "coffee and cake" at 3 pm to catch up!
9. If you had to describe your company's mission statement, what would that be?
Treat our customers and employees like family. Make super delicious handmade caramels and cakes that are visually appealing and retain a sense of nostalgia. Use high quality, whole ingredients, which are local whenever possible (we use Clover cream, Gilt Edge butter, etc). Keep sustainability in mind. We love nostalgia with a modern kick.
10. What is your favorite caramel flavor?
Courtney: Cashew! Always has been, and likely always will be! It’s so deliciously sweet & salty with a little crunch! Mmmm…
Celia: I can't choose! This question is always so hard. Right now it's our Coffee Caramels - we make them with espresso powder and they are soooo gooooood.