Check Her Out: Leah Gourlie of LaLa Custom Cake!

What exactly is your business?
LaLa Custom Cake is a custom cake boutique catering to weddings, birthday, and every other cake occasion. We design cakes starting with the delicious insides with creative and fresh flavors then build a beautiful centerpiece customized to our client’s personality and vision.

How did you come up with your business idea?
I started out cooking in the savory fine dining world. Out of curiosity, I took a fondant cake decorating class about 9 years ago, and loved it, soon after that LaLa Custom Cake was born.  I wanted to approach cake from a culinary standpoint focusing on flavor and texture first to give guests not only a beautiful cake, but an unforgettably delicious experience.

How did you find out about Aviatra?
I started selling cupcakes at various markets around and began following other small business owners on social media. I heard of Aviatra through a few fellow market vendors who had enrolled in the program.

What is your inspiration?
I love to bake and love good food! I want each customer to have a delicious dessert experience with our cakes. I love bold colors and bold decor and unexpected elements that make our cakes unique.

What has been your biggest accomplishment with your business so far?
So far, my biggest accomplishment with LaLa Custom Cake has been maintaining a storefront for the last year and half. We currently have 2 employees and are slowly but steadily growing our customer base and profits each month.  While we have a long way to go, it is encouraging to know that each month we are doing better than the previous year and continue to book more weddings and specialty cakes as more customers discover our shop.

What was the most valuable thing you gained from your experience with Aviatra?
Moving the company from a home-based business to a brick and mortar storefront was much more difficult than I could have imagined.  Aviatra helped to give me a good idea of all of the challenges and different aspects of running a business.  From legal help to financial spreadsheets I gained so much knowledge from each class that ended up being crucial as I moved forward into a brick and mortar. Aviatra also gave me a great network of other entrepreneurs and professionals to lean on when I need advice, services or just moral support!

What was the biggest challenge you faced when starting your business?
Being a baker at heart, it has been tough to learn the business side of running LaLa Custom Cake.  While I enjoy running the business as the owner, I’ve had to learn how to do a little bit of everything to keep the business moving forward.

Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
In 5 years I hope to have LaLa Custom Cake positioned as one of the top go-to custom cake shops in the area for weddings as well as all other cake needs.

Any advice for future Aviatras?
Running a successful business requires a lot of homework and research, as well as an exceptional product or service.  The exceptional product/service is usually the easier part of being an entrepreneur because it’s what we are most passionate about, but equally important if not more important is a well-run well organized business.  Aviatra is a great crash course on everything you need to run a great business, and has given me invaluable resources and connections that I would have spent years trying to figure out on my own.

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