Puffect Bakery Cafe, located in Walnut, bakes delicious desserts for special events, from weddings and birthdays to corporate lunches. The owner of Puffect Bakery Cafe took some time out of their busy schedule to meet with us to celebrate the business's new status as an EmployABILITY Champion and to learn what that means to them.
How did you start your business?
I started my business 10 years ago. I’m a self-taught baker. It was a journey to owning my own bakery. The first step was learning to make my dad his beloved Chinese egg puffs. I had studied abroad in China, and I learned how to make them while I was there. They were a hit, so I thought it would be fun to have a food truck that sells egg puffs. Then when my brother brought home macarons one day, I loved them so much I taught myself to make them. From there, I took cake decorating classes. The teacher there told me that I should open a bakery. It really was about finding things my family and I love to eat – there’s a reason our slogan is “eat dessert first” – and then honing my decorating skills. Through it all, I just fell in love with industry. I love meeting with clients and helping them plan their special events. I love the artistry of making beautiful desserts that will become part of someone’s special memories of a big event in their life.
How did COVID affect your business?
My business is very event focused. Because venues were closed, the shop was closed. We quickly pivoted to selling smaller, prepackaged items, and holding “drive-by” events like selling cookie decorating kits. But that didn’t keep me very busy. When it became clear that we would be closed for quite some time, I started wondering how I could help people in the community. I saw how people were struggling to get basic groceries because the stores were having supply chain issues. I could get basic supplies through my wholesale connections, so, I reached out to the community and began offering to sell what supplies I could get, like eggs, milk, and flour. So many people reached out for help that it became difficult to keep the orders straight! I called the mayor, to see what kind of help the city could give me. I wasn’t doing it to make money, just selling the product for what I paid for it. Once they were aware of what I was doing, the city asked me to pack boxes of food for the community. They let me bake a loaf of bread for each box. We became like a grocery store to get by. I just really wanted to help. I have a heart for this community and believe in going the extra mile to help where I can.
How do you plan to use EmployABILITY Business Grant funds to grow your business? I’m hiring several employees with disabilities to train them in all aspects of the baking and events industry. This is going to really help me expand my business. Having more employees who are talented and love what they do means I’ll be able to take on more event catering jobs and help me do more wholesale business. It will also help our ability to offer new kinds of products.
What does it mean to you to be an EmployABILITY Champion?
This grant gives us the opportunity to offer others meaningful career opportunities. It means we can give people with disabilities the chance to find out what interests them and what they’re good at, all while baking with us.
For more information on Puffect Bakery Cafe, visit https://www.puffectbakerycafe.com/.