We had the good fortune of connecting with celine ikeler and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi celine, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Actually very little thought went into starting Karma Baker. It was more just pure inspiration and fulfilling a need out there. I was a home baker for many years. I baked just for fun and my kids. After mastering a gluten-free flour blend for my neighbors daughter, I began creating gluten-free vegan baked goods that were truly head and shoulders above the rest. Honestly, back then everything tasted horrible. It was bad. If you were dairy or glutenfree in those days, some things out there might have satisfied you,
So yes I naïvely started baking in my own kitchen and found a few shops to carry my treats and the momentum took me from there. Six months later I was in a commercial kitchen renting space two days a week. And six months after that I was in a 1500 square-foot kitchen with a storefront! And Karma Baker Bakery was born.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
People may not think of being a baker as an artist but for sure I’m an artist first. I started my first career in animation in 1989. My first job out of art school and I’ve been creating whatever stirred my soul ever since. I think the biggest challenge for me in being a creative and an entrepreneur is that money and creativity tend to clash. In the mind of a creative you cannot have a dollar amount on the other side of your vision. It’s really important to not be attached to the outcome and to just stay in your creative flow while you are being inspired. I found that when money was tight and the business was in one of its downward ebb and flows, these are the times when my creativity was most stifled because I felt we needed to get dollars in the front door and this item I am creating needs to do that. Way too much need in there. And finding that balance is the hardest thing.
I’d say the coolest thing that I have done with this business is change peoples’ minds about a whole food group. Making a cake that is just vegan and gluten-free isn’t good enough, it really needs to be fun and interesting and inspired. That is when we attract everybody, not just vegans, to our website and when they try a cake, they are blown over by how good it is. Like really surprised at how good it is! Then they actually think for a moment that maybe they don’t need dairy and eggs in their baked goods after all. This for me is really at the crux of why we are who we are.. This for me is really at the crux of why we are who we are.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Ahhhh…Hi! Los Angeles is a vegan Mecca. We are so so lucky to have so many amazing vegan choices here in Los Angeles. From us way out in Westlake Village to Santa Monica to Long Beach to Pasadena. There are so many fun places to go and eat! My two favorites are Crossroads kitchen and Plant Food and Wine in Venice Beach. Vegan or not you will love every bite to eat there. And for me being a creative empath, I need to be at the beach so that’s where I spend any extra time I have every day. And my friends know it too… hang out with me? We’re going to the beach!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am definitely not a one woman show. I rely on so many people for so many things in my life and I’m not afraid to say so. I know my strengths well. And I know my weaknesses too. I think that is a huge importance when it comes to being real with yourself as an entrepreneur. My creative energy can take me everywhere some days but that is not the way you run a business. So I recognize every day that my staff and my husband are the key to our success. Arek has been with me since baking in the home kitchen and even made my tiny deliveries for me back then. After only nine months into this endeavor, I suggested he quit his job and do this with me full-time. I don’t even think he hesitated one second, he said “yeah! let’s do this”. I may be the Manifestor in the group but he is the Generator and along with our crew of amazing men and women we’ve created something extraordinary.