Deirdre’s Cakes and Bakes is the small business owned by Deirdre Olszewski in which she sells cakes and other baked goods which please taste buds and are visually works of art. Started in January of this year, Olszewski started her own business fulfilling a lifelong dream.
Background in Baking
Olszewski and her husband moved to Lowell just over a year ago. Since then she has become the sole owner and operator of Deirdre’s Cakes and Bakes. After obtaining a Bachelor’s in Hospitality she decided to attend culinary school. The 29-year-old has always wanted to own her own business but it wasn’t until graduating from the Culinary Institute of Michigan (CIM) in Muskegon with a degree in Baking and Pastry Arts that she knew what she wanted it to look like. “”It was intense, [but] it was so much fun,” she says. “We had access to amazing ingredients.” That program led to an associate degree in baking and pastry.
Baking since she was a child, her business blossomed from years of experience and memories. Offering props to her own mother, Olszewski says she learned from an “amazing baker and an even better hostess”. Of her early experience with her mom she says, “I always loved being at her side when she would create decadent desserts that I knew everyone would enjoy later.” Honing her skills at the CIM would provide additional knowledge from chef instructors in order to become successful in her business.
The Baking Experience
Discovering new recipes and techniques for the variety of products she makes is one of Olszewski’s favorite things about her business. Each order and product is made fresh without the use of preservatives. Of the process of creating products for her customers she comments, “I find the process of baking very therapeutic and relaxing. Yes, there are extremely stressful moments, but it’s always worth it when your product turns out.” Whether it’s a cake, shortbread cookie, cupcake or another item, time, dedication, and even love is put into baking and decorating of items.
Olszewski hopes that the experience of buying baked goods from her is worth the individual attention, care, and attention to detail that comes with working with her small business. Cupcakes and shortbread sandwich cookies have been popular with customers as they are great for bigger groups, offering a single serving option.
Cakes and cupcakes are available in a variety of flavors and fillings. Also offered are a collection of classic cookies, shortbread sandwich cookies, and custom sugar cookies. Olszewski is also willing to work with customers to come up with baked goods tailored to individual occasions.
She’s ServSafe certified and is always interested in learning more having taken courses in Chicago and closer to home at The Local Epicurean in Grand Rapids. Olszewski is always looking to expand skills in the kitchen even if it’s not specific to her business – like learning to make pasta.
“Sometimes I think baking is romanticized,” she says. “There’s nothing glamorous about the process.” While the final products coming out of her kitchen are made with care, attention to detail, and are packaged to please, the act of mixing ingredients isn’t necessarily a pretty process. A scientist of the kitchen, she typically uses all of her counter space, lots of dishes and utensils, and has a mess to clean up once something is put into the oven or decorated. But that’s just part of the job. A job that Olszewski loves.
Looking Toward the Future
For now her business is one that takes up time in the evening and weekends. Olszewski works at Love’s Ice Cream & Chocolate at GR Downtown Market four days a week. However, she’s hoping as her customer base grows it’ll turn into a full-time operation.
While her business is less than six months old, Olszewski is already thinking about what she would like to do in the future. As orders increase, she has plans of turning her basement into a commercial kitchen and retail space. Her home is set up so customers will have be able to visit without disrupting other parts of the house. They’ll also be able to see first hand where products are made.
Already participating in community events like Expo and Girls’ Night Out, look to see Deirdre’s Cakes and Bakes setting up pop-up shops around town as a way to meet members of the community and allow people to taste some of the products offered.
Olszewski will also continue her culinary education, taking classes to further her own techniques and learn new things. She even has interest in taking food related classes not necessarily related to baking indicating things can be learned and applied to what she does. She remains eager to engage in the community, meet new people, and learn about resources she can tap into. “I have learned that there is no shame in asking for help, and you never know what information a person can provide.” she says of her philosophy of networking and getting to know others.
Experiencing Cakes and Bakes
Deirdre is eager to help her customers plan sweet treats for family gatherings, parties, special occasions, or those times when a baked good experience is needed. Typically two weeks notice is requested when placing an order as items are made fresh. For a bigger order and something like a wedding cake, significantly longer notice is needed.
Deirdre’s Cakes and Bakes menu provides a listing of flavors and fillings for cake, cupcake and cookie products. And follow the business page on Facebook for photos, information, and where a pop-up shop will take place. As part of our research for this article, Amanda and Maryalene spent some time partaking in tea and cookies with Deirdre. We can attest that at least the Lemon Poppyseed, Spice Chai, Espresso Dark Chocolate Ganache, Chocolate Salted Caramel shortbread cookies are awesome!