Spotlight: How Strong Flour Bakes Turned a Break From Show Business into a Bakery

baking business

Lots of industries struggled over the past year. This left professionals attempting to pivot to different areas. That was the case for Strong Flour Bakes. Read all about the founder’s story in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Offers custom made treats in Los Angeles.

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Founder Jessica J’Aime told Small Business Trends, “I am an artisanal baker and master roaster. I sell specialty coffee and baked goods including breads, pastries, and various other desserts.”

How the Business Got Started

As an alternative revenue source during the pandemic.

J’Aime says, “My love for baking started in my mother’s kitchen when I was young, and has been a passion of mine ever since. For years, I dreamt of owning my own bakery, but I always thought it was just that—a dream. That changed when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“For the last 25 years, I’ve been a touring stage actress, but I was forced to put my career on hold when theaters shuttered their doors last year. When our state went into lockdown and quarantine started, I, like many others, thought it would be at most a few short weeks. During that time I began spending more time in my kitchen, and reconnected with my passion for baking. When it became clear that the pandemic was going to last much longer than anyone thought, I knew I needed to find another source of income.”

Small Business Deals

Biggest Win

Working with a local cafe.

J’Aime says, “To grow my business and brand, I leveraged an existing connection at a local café I frequently went to, and “pitched” the idea of offering breads and pastries from Strong Flour Bakes at the café. When I pitched myself, I brought in a mix of baked goods and shared it with their team. The variety I shared showed I could bake delicious and diverse treats that catered to their customers, with vegan and gluten-free options. After establishing myself with the café, not only are my baked goods being sold at a few locations across Los Angeles, but they’ve also allowed me to create artisanal batch coffee at their café.”

Biggest Risk

Starting during a pandemic.

J’Aime explains, “Before starting my business, I worked as an actor in LA, and, like many others, my career became obsolete overnight. I had bills to pay, and I needed a steady income. I faced hardships along the way, specifically with funds. But I knew starting a bakery was what I wanted to do, and I needed to make it work.”

Biggest Challenge

Creating an online presence.

J’Aime says, “After officially launching Strong Flour Bakes, I needed to reach customers and get the word out about my business. I understood that a high-quality website would establish me as a baking professional. But this presented challenges. I didn’t have the tech skills to build a website. But I needed an affordable way to get online.

“I began partnering with Yahoo Small Business soon after, which was an excellent business decision. It truly was a springboard for me as a new business owner, and for Strong Flour Bakes. I took advantage of the Yahoo Small Business free Get Online offer to help get my small business online. With the offer, I received a customizable website, established a domain name, and secured professional email addresses to show customers that I meant business!

“While Yahoo Small Business helped build my dream site, I could focus on growing my business instead of spending hours trying to figure out how to develop and optimize my website. As they worked to establish Strong Flour Bakes online, I spent time establishing my business on the ground.”

Lesson Learned

Take advantage of every opportunity.

J’Aime adds, “If I hadn’t taken advantage of the Get Online offer, I wouldn’t have had the tools to truly establish myself as a professional or build my business from the ground up.

“I knew I wanted my website to be personal with functions that allowed my customers to have a direct line of communication with me. And Yahoo Small Business and its small business advisors helped me achieve this. They have helped me differentiate myself from competitors and have helped advise me through each step of my entrepreneurial journey.”

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Opening a brick-and-mortar bakery.

J’Aime says, “I would love to own a sit-down bakery that serves as the community’s “third place”. Ultimately, I want to be able to offer artisan coffee and baked goods at my own café where friends and the community can gather and feel like they’re at home. As my business grows, it’s important to me that I continue growing my relationship with my community.”

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Image: Strong Flour Bakes, J’Aime Comment ▼

Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

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