We had the good fortune of connecting with Andrea Richie and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Andrea, is there something you can share with us that those outside of the industry might not be aware of?
I don’t think people understand the amount of time that goes into creating custom cakes and desserts. From the initial client consultation, to brainstorming ideas and designs, sourcing products and ingredients, baking, prepping the design elements and finally putting it all together. It’s a lengthy and intensive process with many sleepless nights.
We’re not like a chain bakeries or grocery store bakery departments with a full staff who use industrial size machinery to crank out hundreds cakes in a day that are available for purchase at the last minute. We’re not just the baker, we’re the marketer, the accountant, the photographer, the customer service rep, the tech consultant. Self employed home bakers and cake artists like myself do it all.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I decided to start Brown Sugar Bakery after being laid off from a non-profit job in 2010. I always wanted to be a pastry chef, but ended up going into the field of social services. Over the past eleven years I’ve continued to hold full time, part time and consulting jobs, in addition to being a parent, so I’ve had to learn how to manage being a small business owner without having all the time I need to dedicate to it. I’ve struggled with wanting to give up at times because it wasn’t growing as fast as I thought it should.
I finally realized that the definition of “success” is different to everyone and only I can define that for myself. I enjoy having multiple career paths (I work in the law field and am a non-profit consultant in addition to baking) and tapping into each of my passions is what helps me fulfill my life’s purpose.
One of my biggest challenges has been marketing and social media. I’m a “behind the scenes” kind of person. I don’t like being in front of the camera. I’m also pretty humble and never want to come across as arrogant, so constantly posting to social media just doesn’t come natural to me. (I just want to bake things that bring people joy and happiness, not post selfies everyday! Lol)
What I’ve learned is that social media is a tool and to focus on using it as a method of story telling rather than racing to get the most followers. People fall in love with brands and entrepreneurs they trust and can relate to. I feel like I’m in a season of self-discovery and figuring out what I want my brand to look and feel like that is genuine to who I am and what I create. I’m excited for the next steps and am proud of my dedication to not give up when things have been difficult.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Living in Los Angeles means you have the beach, the mountains, the dessert and Mexico right at your fingertips. There’s so much to do, but here are my favorites:
Roger Room – It’s literally the size of a closet, but that’s what I love about it the most. Small, dark, intimate and they’re one of the only places that knows how to make my favorite drink, “Death in the Afternoon”.
Cole’s French Dip – open since the early 1900’s they have the BEST French dip sandwich and the garlic tots are to die for. Love their cocktails too and be sure to hit up the secret bar in the back. (Shhhhh, don’t tell anyone about it.)
Seven Grand – my #1 favorite whiskey bar. Play some pool while listening to live jazz or watching local live artist at work.
El Cerro Verde – People come to LA for the tacos, but there’s so many other Latin American foods to try when you’re here as well. If you don’t know what a pupusa is, now is the time to learn. Get the “revueltas” with a side of black beans and platanos. You won’t regret it.
Continental Jazz Club – great drinks, fun cocktail making classes and live jazz. Perfect for a first date.
Massilia – Great for brunch, lunch on the patio or happy hour. Nice ambiance and is walking distance to the beach and all the good stuff in Santa Monica.
Dodgers Stadium – Going to a Dodgers game is a MUST when in LA. Preparty at The Short Stop bar with fellow Dodgers fans then walk or Uber up to the stadium. Once inside get the garlic fries and a cold beer and you’re set.
Largo at the Coronet – I’m a music junky and prefer small, intimate setting over a huge stadium any day. No pictures or phone use allowed indoors so you really get to focus on the artist and enjoy the moment. They also film/record podcasts and comedy shows here so it’s a good mix of things to choose from. (This spot is literally right next door to Roger Room.)
Cinespia – outdoor movie night, in a cemetery. Sounds spooky, and it kinda is, but you’ll get over it after 5 minutes. If you look real hard you can see bats in the trees, but they won’t bother you. BYOB and picnic, but there’s always great vendors on site. It gets packed quick so get there early to get a good spot on the lawn.
Villa Royale, Palm Springs – The older I get, the more I love a relaxing weekend by the pool, lounging in the sun with a drink in hand. This is an adults only hotel so you don’t have to worry about screaming kids AND you get a free drink when you arrive. Pure heaven.
Glen Ivy Hot Springs – this will take up a full day and is totally worth it. Mineral pools, hot tubs, mud baths, drinks and spa treatments will make you forget about all your stress. Great for a self care solo date or a group outing with friends.
My friends nicknamed me the “brunch queen” because it’s my #1 thing to do, but sadly my favorite rooftop brunch spot, Sonoma Wine Garden, permanently closed due to the pandemic (insert crying emoji here). It’s gonna take me some time to find a worthy replacement, but I’ve heard nothing but great stuff about Poppy & Rose. Anywhere that makes fresh biscuits and gravy gets an endorsement from me.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My daughter, Anaya, has been an integral part of my baking journey. She keeps me motivated and I’m proud to be setting an example of what it means to be a hard working mom and small business owner. She sees the good and the not so good moments. I hope that watching me grow over the years helps her to realize that anything she wants is possible if she does it with purpose and passion. My family and close friends have also been an important motivating factors. So appreciative of all the orders, referrals and pep talks that have kept me going over the years.
Andrea Richie, Noemi Lang