In honor of it being Small Business Week…
Meet Kayleigh DiPaolo of Kaycakes!
Kayleigh and I worked together at Rockne’s years ago and have stayed in touch via social media. She is an extremely talented baker, decorator, yoga enthusiast, and world traveler. Let’s learn more about the woman behind the desserts!
You’re originally from Northeast Ohio and now live in Palo Alto, CA. How has your passion grown from moving your life?
We moved to California for two main reasons: My husband works in tech, and it was a lifetime dream of mine to live in the golden state. California is awesome and I’m still obsessed! This Ohio girl will never take for granted the royal blue skies and warm sunshine. Anyways! While my husband was busy with his job at Groupon, I was nannying part time and applying to grad school for social work. I had a lot of time on my hands and found myself baking… A LOT. After a few months of this I decided I would give baking a go, and 5 years later here I am.
What was your first big event with Kaycakes – what was on the menu?
My husband used to work for Dropbox and they needed sweet treats for a Women In Design event, so he passed my info along to the gal who was planning the event. She ended up ordering 200 mini cupcakes from me! They ordered vanilla, chocolate, and red velvet. That was in May 2013… crazy how much I’ve grown since then! I remember feeling especially nervous about the delivery process, but it all worked out in the end and my cupcakes were a hit!
Your Instagram has almost 15k followers, loaded with yummy treats and beautifully styled desserts – where does your inspiration come from?
I’ve always really enjoyed working on my Instagram account. I tell all of my clients that the best way to see my work is to hop on Instagram! One of my all time favorite baking Instagram accounts is @sweetbakes_ and I’ve gathered a lot of inspiration from her mad baking skills! I also noticed a deficit of “natural” or “rustic” wedding cakes and a lack of dessert bar options in general, so I decided to focus most of my time and energy into that niche. The result has been that almost all of my brides choose a wedding cake with all natural buttercream, real flowers, and one of my plentiful dessert bar packages.
You were recently a part of a Martha Stewart photo shoot, tell us more about this amazing experience!
It was such an amazing shoot to be apart of. I look back on that experience with immense gratitude! A few local creatives had known about me through my Instagram account and asked if I would be willing to bake a cake, macarons, mini cakes, AND model for an upcoming Galentine’s Day shoot. I had done several styled shoots in the past, but had a feeling this one would be a unique opportunity, plus a good excuse to get professional photos of me with my baked goods! After the shoot was over, the very talented photographer ( Indu Huynh Photography ) edited her photos and submitted them to Martha Stewart Living and sure enough they wanted to feature us for Valentine’s Day! That experience will go down as one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my baking carer. Do people say cool anymore? Haha…
Many of your items are gluten/dairy free, has it been hard staying with the growing trends while still making delicious treats?
As someone who sticks to a mostly paleo diet, it was important to me to offer some “allergy free” desserts to my brides/grooms because who wants to be told that they can’t have cake on their wedding day? No one! So, early on in my baking career, I spent a lot of time creating gluten free, dairy free, paleo, and some vegan recipes as well. I honestly felt like I was constantly doing chemistry experiments in my kitchen (good thing I got an A in Honors Chem, am I right?) LOL. I’m thankful for the initial work I put into “allergy free” options because I honestly don’t have the time to create many new recipes these days as I have a full baking schedule.
What is your favorite item to bake?
I will always LOVE setting up a large tiered wedding cake surrounded by one of my dessert bars and finally adding the last touches of flowers or edible gold leaf! It’s really rewarding to know that I accomplished another wedding all by myself. I also enjoy baking french macarons, although they are very tricky cookies! It took me a few tries before I got confident in my french macaron abilities.
Your husband, Josh, is an amazing cook (as we see on his Instagram), does he ever help you in the kitchen?
Josh does love to cook! Which is great, because I prefer baking to cooking. He doesn’t help me much in the kitchen, but he has helped with delivery and set up many times! If I have a massive wedding or corporate order he might volunteer to drive me to the venue and help set everything up. I honestly prefer to do the baking myself though. It’s a great time for me to listen to music, a podcast, or have some alone time.
As a fellow baker or someone that wants to start their own business, what words of wisdom can you share?
NETWORK! Find your local creatives and start networking with them. I’ve always gotten most of my business through word of mouth and I think that’s because I’m always networking with: wedding planners, venue managers, florists, makeup artists, even other bakers! It’s been wonderful to know so many amazing creative women who are all starting their own businesses and getting things done! Even though I work alone, I feel like I have a community of creatives in California and we come together for things like that Martha Stewart shoot (and have a blast doing it all together!)
What’s next for Kaycakes?
I’m not sure honestly! Right now I’m booking a lot of weddings for Fall 2018 and that’s always fun and exciting. In addition to baking, I’ve been doing peer counseling at a crisis pregnancy medical clinic on Mondays for over a year now, and that’s been a very rewarding experience as my undergraduate degree is in counseling. I also do part time admin work on Tuesdays and Thursdays for a local counseling agency. I might decided to go back to grad school for something counseling/psychology related, so I felt like it was time to dip my toes back into that world while I figure out what I want to do next. I imagine that I will always bake part time, but don’t foresee myself doing this full time for the rest of my life. I have mixed emotions about it, but mostly I feel proud and content with the business I created!
Check out Kaycakes website and social media –