BREE MILLER is the baker you knead to know.
As the 25-year-old owner, proprietor, and head baker of Bree’s Cakes, Ms. Miller has become the go-to gal for creative cakes in Los Angeles. After a successful stint as the pastry chef at popular Japanese restaurant Katsuya in Glendale, CA, the self-taught baker decided to risk it all to start her own company. While she specializes in creating any cake you can imagine, coming in flavors like Cherry Coke Float and Do You Like Pina Coladas (yes, that’s pineapple!), her repertoire includes cupcakes, cookies, pies and mason jar cakes. If you can imagine it, she can bake it. This baker on the rise spoke with Lady Clever about how she turned her devotion to desserts into a business, the inspiration behind her unique cakes, and how social media helped advance her career, one Instagram photo at a time.
How did you become interested in baking?
I started baking as a hobby while in college. I used baking as an outlet and escape away from all of my schoolwork. I began watching all of those shows on TV — like Cake Boss, Ace of Cakes, Cupcake Wars, etc. — and was immediately intrigued by the creative element that was being portrayed through cakes! So I just had to try it out! I was determined to teach myself the ins and outs of the bakery business.
Being self-taught, have you ever tried your hand at a new recipe only to discover that you had torn off more than you could chew?
Baking is tough because it is like a science… you have to be very precise with your ingredients, so I definitely learned over time that there are NO SHORTCUTS in baking. Although I went through a lot of trials and errors, I took my mistakes as lessons and learned from them.
I find inspiration EVERYWHERE! I like to create “out of the box” flavors that you can’t find at every other bakery. I find a lot of inspiration from the Food Network & Pinterest.
What led to your decision to leave Katsuya and focus 100% on Bree’s Cakes?
The ONLY reason I left Katsuya was because I found myself turning away a lot of orders because I had to spend my weekends there. Although I absolutely loved working there, I felt deep-down that it was time to take a leap of faith and go out on my own. I kept thinking: “If I don’t do it now, when will I?!” So I did! I quit and am now working for myself 24/7, which is crazy because I am so used to working 1-2 different jobs. It definitely took some adjusting to and I wouldn’t change it for the world!
You were working full-time at other places when you first started Bree’s Cakes. How did you find the time and ambition to get your business off the ground?
It definitely didn’t come without difficulty! Tons of sleepless nights and a lot of passion is what got me through each day. Every free moment I had to myself I invested in bettering my craft and getting my name out there, whether that was through events or social media!
How do you balance the creative aspects of Bree’s Cakes with the business side of the company?
To be honest, this is the hardest part of running a business alone. I am naturally creative so my ideas come pretty easily. Balancing all of my inquiries, making all of my orders, and doing all of my deliveries is very tiring, but I also LOVE it because I get to build personal relationships with my customers!
I would say my biggest success, thus far, would be nailing consistent celebrity clients & building a large social media following! It is extremely rewarding knowing that my desserts are admired by so many people all over the world!
If a client doesn’t show you a photo, how do you take their vision and turn it into a reality that also satisfies your own creative urges?
When they don’t show me a photo, I probably think of 4 different designs in my head before actually committing to one. It makes me nervous sometimes, because I always think, “What if my vision is different than their vision?” — but I ask my customers a million question, from color schemes to themes to sizes, just to make sure they get exactly what they want!
Have you ever found it difficult to be taken seriously due to your age?
Luckily, I haven’t really encountered anything like that, but people are always shocked when I tell them that I am only 25.
I would say my most difficult cake, thus far, was a giant 4-foot long Lamborghini cake I made for rapper THE GAME! It had the doors open and everything so I had to create a custom cake board for it with an inner skeleton inside so that was a huge challenge!
You have over 63,000 followers on Instagram. Do you think that social media has contributed to your success? Was that part of your business plan?
HANDS DOWN! YES! 90% of my business comes solely from social media! So I recommend anyone starting their own business to take advantage of social media because it’s FREE ADVERTISING!
Sounds like a slice of heaven to us!
You can check out Bree’s menu and find information on ordering by visiting her website. To see some absolutely-amazing confectionery creations, check out Bree’s Cakes on Facebook and Twitter, and join the thousands already following Bree’s Cakes on Instagram.