The combination of a rough economy, the demand for artisan food, and talented foodies, created a trend of women in East Contra Costa opting to start their own home-based baking businesses rather than get a job in the public workforce. These “bizymoms” or “mompreneurs” have taken a sprinkle of inspiration, crumbs of talent and created businesses from scratch out of their own home kitchens.
Kimberly Reeves-Dunn, owner of Custom Cakes/Kim’s Creations starting her baking business when her husband was on disability. This art major/oil painter has combined her impressive artistic talent with culinary skills to create cakes that are a delectable work of art. Dunn comments that this business allows her to be a great mom and to be successful in business.
“It allows me to be a good mom and make amazing cakes.” The adoration and complements from clients, friends and family is also something she finds rewarding. “To do something that makes people happy and puts a smile on their face is my addicting!” says Dunn.
Dunn admits that balancing her time can be challenging. She works seven days a week and occasionally works all night to complete cakes. Dunn adds that some days she will only spend a few hours on marketing or designing, but each cake she creates is important to her.
“I care about this so much because it is my name and my work that people are talking about,” she says. “I am an artist by nature, but now I have to be much more. This endeavor calls me to be a baker, decorator, secretary, accountant, and marketing specialist.”
Custom Cakes and Kim’s Creations sell cakes, cupcakes, and cake-pops. The average cake is $200, cupcakes $30 a dozen, and cake pops $30 a dozen. Her prices vary because every cake is customized for each client. “Time fly’s when I am making cakes. I get lost in the process. My love for art has become my passion, and it doesn’t feel like work!” says Dunn. For more information about Custom Cakes/Kim’s Creations call Kim at 925-354-7148 or visit her website.
Another baker found inspiration in her dog Devon, a Dalmatian. Elizabeth Barber and PJ Dodgson, are owners of 3 of Hearts Pet Bakery, which makes all natural, preservative free dog treats from human grade ingredients. They use ingredients like oregano, carrots, unbleached or whole wheat flour, honey, and peanuts. Their treats are all vegetarian except for their jerky, which is sold on their Etsy shop. Their philosophy is, “If it’s not something we would eat ourselves, we will not feed it to our dogs.”
Barber’s dalmatian suffers from urate stone blockage which could kill him. Barber couldn’t give him treats from pet stores because they are harmful to his condition.After he suffered a blockage that gave him heart failure, Barber started baking his own treats herself and sharing them with her friends and family. “Everyone kept telling me I should turn it into a business, so I did that last year,” says Barber.
3 of Hearts Pet Bakery currently offers 14 different treats plus an assortment bag on our menu. The most popular treats are the Cheese Chompers (Devon’s favorite) and the 3 of Hearts Signature Hearts. The treats are all preservative free, so they need to be kept in the refrigerator. Everything is made at the time the orders come in, so they can accommodate special requests, such as if someone needs gluten free.
Prices range from $6.50-$10.00 for a small bag of treats and $10.50-$14.00 for a large bag. They offer free local delivery in Brentwood (coupon code BRENTWOOD), and post specials several times a month on their FB page.
Other bakers have found inspiration in the kitchen as well. When Erin Perata, owner of Coccolarsi Sugar Scrubs and mother of twins, was laid of from her job in the banking industry, she wasn’t sure how she was going to come up with gifts for her children’s teachers. Since her daughters love bath time, she thought, why not make something different, sugar scrubs. “I did some research and made my own formula and all of the teachers raved about about the gift,” she says. A business was born.
Perata loves that Coccolarsi allows her to be with her children and help her family out financially. “I am able to do something I love and to still have the time to help in their classrooms and homework and make sure they have a homemade meal every night.”
Perata makes the sugar scrubs in her kitchen. They are made with organic sugar, oil and fragrance and have been tested on sensitive skin. The scrubs are very good for your skin and can be used before shaving or waxing for even smoother skin. Her family and friends are her biggest fans. Her twins love the coconut scent and ocean was created for her dad. The scrubs are a great way for other mothers to relax and paper themselves. “I love that it could help a busy mom relax for 5 min and pamper herself,” says Perata. “Coccolarsi means pamper yourself in Italian.”
Cocolarsi Sugar Scrubs are found on Facebook . Jars are $30 and Perata offers a refill for a discount for returning customers.
Karen Ann Fernandez, proprietor, baker and cookie designer has also found success with Karen Ann’s Kitchen. When finances were tight Fernandez was hesitant about entering the workforce.
“I hadn’t worked in over four years and was fearful that at my age it would be difficult to land a decent job,” she said. Fernandez , a grandmother who has a history baking, perfected her recipe for butter cookies and created custom cookie flower bouquets.
Karen Ann’s Kitchen specializes in hand decorated butter cookies and gourmet cookies. With flavors like luscious lemon with lemon curd glaze, nutty peanut butter-n-chocolate, iced oatmeal raisin and cranberry white chocolate surprise, it’s clear these aren’t just pretty cookies. They taste good too.
The most popular item is the hand decorated cookie bouquets that consist of 5 or 7 hand decorated cookies displayed in a painted terra cotta pot with a large ribbon. “I am able to take a theme (new baby, new home, anniversary) and cookie it,” says Fernandez.
Cookies range in price from $2.50 to $5.00 depending on size and the art work required. Each cookie is individually wrapped in a cello bag and tied with a coordinating ribbon. Cookie bouquests are priced at $30.00 for a 5 cookie bouquet and $40.00 for a 7 cookie bouquet. You can fine Karen Ann’s Kitchen online and on Facebook
Sometimes, a rough economy or unusual circumstances presents opportunity for a new career and the home base baking business is thriving. Thankfully for East County residents, those looking to fulfill their sweet tooth, they now have lots of options.
Has the economy forced you to make a career change or start a business? We would love to hear from you. Email Amy Schrader at [email protected]
By Amy Schrader
Arts & Entertainment Editor
Email: [email protected]