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Meet Lauren Rennie of Sweet Cheeks Baking Company in Mission Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lauren Rennie.

Lauren, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
After many years of working in the corporate world and feeling very unfulfilled and burnt out, I left my job and never looked back. I knew that was not what I was meant to be doing and although it paid extremely well, it was literally sucking the life out of me. After taking a few years off, I saw that Sweet Cheeks was looking for an administrative assistant. I thought that sounded FUN and I had a background in baking… great office skills and customer service skills so I went in for an interview!

At that point, I didn’t care that it wasn’t a high powered job… I was just looking for something that brought me JOY! I went in to meet with the owners Donna & Elaine and although it went really well, they didn’t hire me because I lacked skills in Quick Books… and unfortunately, they needed someone ASAP and had no time to train me. But after the interview, they kept emailing me… for almost a month! They really liked me and they just felt in their gut that I would be an asset to their company.

At that point, they said they really didn’t have a job for me… but they would create a position for me. If you ask them now, they will tell you that they knew that administrative assistant position wasn’t right for me and it would have been a waste of creativity. 🙂 Initially, I started out part time helping on weekends to set up wedding cakes and meeting with clients on Saturday’s for tastings. After about a month, they called me one day and said: “We want you here all the time!”. So my part-time position turned into a full-time career.

I became the lead designer and wedding consultant at our little bakery! I now meet with all of our wedding clients to design their dream wedding cakes and dessert tables, as well as accompany my cakes to weddings so I can set them up and arrange all the fresh florals on them or set up their entire dessert display. I also work closely with wedding planners, florists and venues to design the complete look!

When I started this career… I had no idea how to sketch, so that was self-taught. And although my very 1st job in high school was working for a florist, I also had no idea about sticking florals into the buttercream. Thankfully MANY MANY talented florists in our industry like Jennifer Cole Florals, Organic Elements & Artistic Florals were extremely patient & taught me so much about styling & arranging flowers on a cake. I am one of the only cake designers that design cakes as well as styling the cake with fresh flowers to complete the overall design.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The biggest struggle, in the beginning, was getting others in the industry to trust me. It’s scary when there’s a new girl in town and they were used to working with Elaine. So for about the first 2 months when I showed up to venues… I got a lot of “where’s Elaine, why isn’t she here?” I had to work hard to gain people’s trust. I took advantage of every opportunity to go to networking events and parties. I took the time to really get to know my colleagues, to ask for coffee dates and to just build relationships.

I also really had no idea what I was doing with florals on a cake…it was SO scary! So after a few florists showed me what to do… I just faked the confidence until I realized one day that I was actually really good at it! I also had a few small disasters with cake construction… building a cake isn’t as easy as it seems. The biggest challenge is sometimes just getting it to stay put together! So with trial and error, I realized some cake sizing weren’t the greatest and with that comes having to sometimes tell your clients they can’t do something… that it just won’t work.

Our biggest challenge these days is Instagram and Pinterest! Our clients see these beautiful cakes and they want me to recreate them… but they don’t realize that those aren’t REAL cakes…they’re faux cakes! We also struggle with the outside elements! Mother Nature!!! Heat, humidity, BIRDS!!! That is seriously a struggle at almost every single event! So a lot my job these days involves educating our clients and wedding planners. Educating and then sometimes coming up with an alternative plan… it involves thinking outside the box most of the time!

Please tell us about Sweet Cheeks Baking Company.
Sweet Cheeks is known for being a female-owned business, using all locally sourced products, and making everything from scratch!

We specialize in Wedding cakes and Desserts, but we also provide tons of goodies to Wholesale clients in San Diego (Jake’s Del Mar, The Del Mar Race Track, Loews Coronado, Manchester Hyatt, L’Auberge, La Jolla Beach & Tennis, Santa Luz, Pendry Hotel, Various coffee shops & restaurants). We also specialize in intricately sculpted cakes for events and birthdays!

We are known for bringing the FUN!!! I think one of the reasons clients love to work with us and wedding planners bring their clients to us is because we are a fun team! We also feel like our couples are more than just “clients”, they become like family during the wedding planning process and I’ve developed friendships with many of our past couples!

The biggest thing that sets us apart from other bakeries is that we get FULLY involved in the design process… from the tablecloth to the florals! We are in constant communication with other vendors and provide a full-service option for clients that aren’t just looking for cake or desserts… they are looking for a stunning accent piece to their reception! And of course those cake florals… that my signature!

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Is it strange to say “nothing”! The mistakes along the way or things that maybe weren’t perfect have taught me so much! They’ve prepared me for bigger and better things every step of the way!

Pricing:

  • Tiered textured Buttercream cakes start at $9 per slice
  • Fondant cakes start at $10 per slice
  • Mini Dessert Tables typically start a $1000 for 150 guests

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Rachael Smith Photography, Paul Barnett Photography, Petula Pea Photography, Cavin Elizabeth Photography
Laura Christin Photography, France Photography, Shane & Lauren Photography, Iamrtg photography Lindsey Marie Photography

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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