A taste of the sweet life with Susan Sarich of SusieCakes!
Tell us about your background.
I grew up in Chicago and now live in both the Financial District of San Francisco and the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. I am a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and began my hospitality career working for Hyatt Hotels. From there, I went to work in catering and special events at House of Blues, Richard Melman’s Lettuce Entertain You restaurant group in Chicago, and Ian Schrager’s Clift Hotel, amongst others.
Tell us about your inspiration to start SusieCakes.
I had worked in hotels and restaurants for my entire career and wanted to create a business model that allowed for all team members, especially women, to have a progressive career in food service, without sacrificing other aspects of their lives. For years, I worked every holiday, weekend, and very late into the evenings – having very little time for anything else. I want our team members to work a 40-45 hour workweek, which is quite unusual in the hospitality and culinary industries. Our business hours are such (closed evenings and holidays) so that our team members can have time to be with their families, practice yoga or do whatever makes them happy. I have a passion not only for desserts, but for building inspiring careers as well!
Where did you get your recipes?
I grew up living near my grandmothers, Mildred and Madeline, who lived across the alley from each other in Chicago. They were friends and I was fortunate to spend a great deal of time with both of them. The three of us had a wonderful relationship. The core recipes at SusieCakes are based upon their handwritten 3 x 5 recipe cards, which I eventually inherited. These cards are my most cherished possessions and a real connection to the past. My grandmothers taught me that by following my heart and dreams, I could achieve anything I wanted.
How are you different from the other stores that sell cupcakes and cakes?
First and foremost, we view ourselves primarily as a celebration shop, specializing in cakes! At our bakeries, we bake everything entirely from scratch, on-site, daily with the freshest and finest ingredients. We also offer a high degree of customized decoration. Each bakery has a team member who is the dedicated “Celebration Specialist.” They are responsible for assuring that each guest’s cake is created to their exact specifications. We are able to create many wonderful designs (as you can see from the pictures that accompany this blog). We specialize in making cakes for all of life’s celebrations – weddings, holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and other special days.
What do you do for fun?
My life and business partner, Houston, and I enjoy taking our dog Felix, a Bichon Frise, for day trips to the beach in Carmel. He and I also enjoy exploring new restaurants in the Napa wine country as well as entertaining at home.
What is your advice to women who are starting their careers?
My advice is to find a company that is truly aligned with your values. Finding a balance between your personal life and a corporate culture is very important.