We had the good fortune of connecting with Jenna Crawford and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jenna, how did you fund your business? Do you think you would do anything different if you could go back?
When I began taking orders in early 2013, I didn’t have any initial plan or timeline of where this journey would take me. Each cake I sold snowballed into growing the business: reinvesting in tools, skills/classes, and additional marketing costs. Without a set plan for how this would all play out in a new venture, taking on any debt or owing a third party didn’t make sense. While it took longer to grow and make my mark where I’m at today, I wouldn’t have changed the start of this career by bringing in additional funding. The feeling of being self-funded and grown means more to me than making it faster in this industry. I’ve been able to control the direction and pace at which I work, focusing on aspects that keep me happy and mean the most.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
The bright side of my industry is that sugar art combines two things that inspire people in so many ways: food and art. The main thing I’ve found which sets me apart is that I prefer my work to spark joy and have a deeper meaning. Many of my most proud projects have focused on empowerment, philanthropy, promoting healing, and marking a shift in life. In the beginning stages of this journey, I (like many in my industry) made every cake or cookie that came my way- it was survival, and wasn’t always easy. This led to challenges down the road as a new cake artist can easily burn out with the workload; I began to gravitate towards creating pieces that inspired me to grow as an artist and person. Directing my focus towards more artistic projects and incorporating various sugar mediums reignited the desire to push myself into a different part of who I am as a cake artist. My biggest hope is that the world and consumers in general begin to view cake as not just a food, but as a magical work of art that you get to indulge in- that it brings two types of joy.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Since I am the epitome of suburban homebody, I had to consult my BFF on this one- she always plans our outings with the best spots! The top of my list is always a nighttime Astros game, you can’t beat that atmosphere and the roof open at Minute Maid with some Friday Night Fireworks; if you’re up for a late night adventure, go for the bicycle bar hop around downtown. Shopping in Rice Village or the Galleria is a must if you need a little retail therapy (which I could do all day- even if it’s just window shopping). A casual stroll through my favorite city spot- the Houston Museum of Natural Science- is always on the agenda when we make the trek into town because the Cullen Hall of Gems & Minerals is the first stop inside; something about gems in raw form is so inspiring to me. A short hop over to Uchi for dinner brings you a combination of art and food if you need more in your life. For a lazy weekend, go for breakfast (or brunch, in my case) at Snooze and dip your toes into a twist on classic breakfast foods. Wind down in low-key style by playing yard games at Karbach, the live music and brewery tour are just the way to chill for the day. This city has such a vast array of options from high end, to chill and supporting local artisans/businesses, you can’t go wrong with a different vibe each day.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I can’t dedicate this to any single person or group, as who I am in both personal life and business is owed to a mix of people. First and foremost I look at my parents – they taught me what it means to work hard for what you want, and put in the effort so the rewards are more meaningful. My husband is the backbone of my business itself- he picks up supplies, delivers cakes, and offers endless unsolicited opinions on each project I create so that I can create better work. A group of cake-turned-personal friends have been instrumental in my growth as a whole; it’s funny how we all met online and found camaraderie in a sugar industry that isn’t always so sweet. Stacy from Stacy’s For the Love of Cake offers me more wisdom in every aspect of life and knows when I need gentle encouragement without too much fluff. Christina of Pretty Pops not only gets mass credit for the many collaborative events we produce, but she is like an unofficial partner in business. Not only do we pair up for projects on a regular basis, but we bounce ideas off each other, as well as guide one another through new opportunities and struggles we face. When I need a major pick me up or a wake up call, my go-to girl is Alma, of BellaSweet in Austin: she gives a no-nonsense outlook and finds a way to help me see my flaws and what can be improved. These closest to me have molded both me and my company in ways that have been imperative to my development and expansion.
Jason Snow Photography (shot of me with cake), Just Like Honey by Nadine Berns (geode cake)