Custom Dream Cakes in Downtown Olympia
Cranking out custom-made specialty cakes and pastries like clockwork might seem like a herculean task to those who don't know their way around a kitchen, but this baker at Gotti Sweets in downtown Olympia makes it look a little too easy.
Lauren Rogers is evolving.
Starting her custom cake business right before the pandemic, Lauren enjoyed a successful year or two before she, like a lot of other businesses in the food industry, were forced to pivot. She went from stocking the display cases in her charming Gotti Sweets shop in downtown Olympia with signature cookies, cupcakes, macaroons, and cake pops, to offering grab-and-go items due to COVID restrictions.
Restructuring her baking model, Lauren suddenly had the ability to devote a lot of time to creating edible masterpieces in the form of custom cakes. If you can dream it, Lauren can build it – in cake form. From monster trucks and T-N-T explosives to colorful mushrooms towering over adoring frogs and wedding cakes decorated with both fresh and sugar-sculpted flowers. The possibilities, at least to Lauren, are endless.
Learning From a Baking Institution in Portland
I asked Lauren what inspired her to make baking a career, and she answered thoughtfully as she slid a sheet pan of cookies into the oven to bake. “As a kid, I loved spending time baking in the kitchen with my grandmother,” she shared as she set a timer, “but I never thought of it as a viable option.”
Instead, Lauren’s family wanted her to become a doctor. Naturally adept at math and science, she graduated from high school at 17 and was involved in accelerated programs, earning college credits along the way. But in 2004 she dropped out of college and enrolled in culinary school, “Back before that was a thing,” Lauren laughs. “Cooking and baking wasn’t cool, and my friends were all asking me, ‘Are you seriously going to make dessert for the rest of your life?’” Her mother was terrified, but her family supported her. After culinary school she interned at the Beaverton Bakery in Portland, a well-loved but now-closed baking institution that was in business for over 93 years.
Food Network Comes Calling
“I learned a lot in culinary school, but Beaverton Bakery is where I got the hands-on experience you need if you want to start a place of your own,” Lauren recalls. It was there that she met and became friends with a fellow baker named Arthur, and learned that his family’s bakery in Olympia was up for sale. With her family’s blessing and the financial backing of her grandmother, Lauren was suddenly the owner of a bakery.
While she had plenty of baking experience under her belt and a built-in client base at the little shop in Olympia, it took a bit of time for her to prove to the previous clientele that she had the right stuff. But word of mouth spread quickly, and Lauren found her calendar filling up without the need to invest in traditional advertising.
In the fall of 2022, she received a call from Food Network to compete on their Halloween Baking Championship where she made it to the finale but just missed winning the competition. Coming home with a renewed inspiration, she’s hired a brand manager to further that forward movement.
Putting Heart and Soul Into Cakes
“I don't have kids, so this here is my baby,” says Lauren. “This bakery is really personal to me, and I put all my love into everything I bake.” Her steadily booked calendar is proof of that. While the shop isn’t open to the public on a daily basis at the moment, follow her social media feeds for a potential reopening after Easter this April (2023). When people come looking for pastries and croissants, she happily refers them to places downtown like Wagner’s Bakery, The Bread Peddler, Left Bank, and San Francisco Street Bakery, but if they want a bad-ass specialty cake, she’s their girl.
Thinking of booking her for a specialty cake, wedding cake, or birthday celebration complete with cupcakes and cookies? Lauren is a one-woman show right now, so the best way to reach out to her about commissioning a cake is to call or text her. Head to her website first to get valuable information about her pricing structure and you’ll be ahead of the game.
“I have no idea what’s in store for me but I’m just keeping my focus on evolving as I go,” Lauren says. Not everybody in life gets to make a career out of what they’re passionate about. She may be burning the candle at both ends but she gets to be creative and spend every waking minute building edible masterpieces. Nice work if you can get it.
Need More Culinary Inspiration?
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