Have you ever wondered what it's like to own your own sweets company?
Then keep reading for a peak into the life of Iisha: LA-based baker and owner of the speciality dessert brand: "Sugar Rush by Iisha!"
Although Iisha now has her dream job, she almost walked away from the profession entirely. Thankfully, Iisha was able to return her focus back to her passion, and now uses her culinary background to churn out scrumptious treats on the daily!
What truly sets Iisha apart is her authenticity. Working in LA LA land means being surrounded by a lot of fluff and fad desserts, but Iisha remains focused on what SHE does best: creating beautiful desserts that put superior TASTE first (and she's got the reviews to prove it!).
What did you study in school? Did it help you launch "Sugar Rush by Iisha?"
When I graduated high school, I went to college (UOP) and received a degree in Pharmacology. After the birth of my last child, I went back to college and received a second degree in Baking and Patisserie, from the Art Institute of LA.
Receiving information, learning techniques and training under some top chefs from Europe really sets me apart. I do believe that you can be a good, successful baker with being formally trained. I also believe you can be a GREAT, smart successful business owner, if you’ve gone to school and gotten the knowledge and tools to use to make sure you are as prepared as you can be.
What makes Sugar Rush one-of-a kind?
I believe the fad now is making a dessert that looks better than it tastes. That’s not my style. I learned a lot about pairing flavors and ingredients together while attending culinary school (2007-2009), and I take a lot of pride in developing my recipes to the point where I’ll put them up against any ‘big name brand’ desserts.
My unique sense of flavors, paired with visually stimulating desserts is what sets me apart. I also play a lot with “adult” desserts – which I think is pretty cool (that way men aren’t always left out).
Also, because I’m a culinary school graduate, I have a moral obligation to uphold certain standards when creating desserts. I see a lot of “bling” desserts going around and it bothers me because bakers are using craft materials on these desserts to make them look amazing. Just because you use a material that says “non-toxic” it doesn’t mean it’s edible.
What sparked the idea for Sugar Rush?:
Originally, I had 2 other names for my business. After a divorce in 2011, I stopped baking for a while and let go of my, then, name. When I started baking again and really committing my time, energy and skills towards THIS effort, I wanted to choose a name I loved. Initially, a few of them were taken. Actually, so was "Sugar Rush," so I added “by Iisha” on the end….. and made it completely MINE! ;)
What drives you to get out of bed every day and continue what you’re doing?
I have 3 children (1 will be attending college in the fall) that keep me motivated.
I also have a love for baking and creating great desserts. So I'm constantly checking the internet to know what the next new dessert will be, and trying to find a new spin on an old/existing dessert.
Sometimes I just like showing off too. ;)
What inspires your creative ideas? Are there activities, techniques, people or places that help you dream up new creations?
First, I like looking at what all the hot, new bakers are putting out.
Then I'll use my creative skills to simply come up with desserts that I think people will like. There’s really no specific method to my creativeness.
What would you have told an earlier YOU when you were first starting out?
To go to school (first) for baking. To stay focused because it’s a long haul. To go intern in Europe and get more background in training and technique.
How do you handle fear and self-doubt?
I take it one day at a time, and simply keep telling myself to not give up.
It’s a process.
When you are feeling overworked or frustrated, what techniques do you use to handle your stress?
I usually completely remove myself from the situation (out of the kitchen, store, bakery). I do something completely unrelated to baking, so that I can clear my mind (hiking, running on the beach, reading or attending one of my kids’ games usually does the trick).
Tell us about one or more business decisions you’ve made that you are proud of, and have contributed to your success in some way?
There’s not really one that stands out, however I was involved in LA’s Best unWINEd event in 2014. I was a little nervous simply because there were other well-known bakeries that were going to also be sponsors. I think their “cockiness” benefited me, because “sending” items to display didn’t win over the crowd. My presence and my desserts were center stage – which made me believe (even more) in my calling and ability.
What are some of the challenges you face in your business?
I still need to open a brick and mortar.
I’m still in the process of re-vamping an old website (there’s just not enough hours in the day).
I would love to get to a point where people “have to have Sugar Rush by iisha” at their events.
What has been the most exciting part of owning your own business?
Just seeing how motivated I am about something that I’ve created and am 100% invested in.
If you had 24 extra hours in your week, what would you do with it (personal or professional)?
I’d probably devote that time to the website, or possibly split it with my children since my oldest is going away in a few months.
is your vision for your business? Where do you want it to go?
Again, I’d love to open up a store front and for it to be a bakery for everyone.
Not just the Hollywood types, the snobs or “cool” people… but for anyone who just like great desserts that they don’t have to mortgage their houses to purchase.
In the spirit of our ongoing #sheforshe campaign, which women have supported or inspired you the most throughout your career?
My daughter, Ryann Gibson (17) has been a huge supporter.
My closest friend, Kristen DeLeo (40, Neutrogena) has been an even larger supporter.
What would your advice be for young women looking to launch a new venture of their own?
Trust and believe in yourself. Stay focused and never give up.
Put as much energy into YOU as you do into your BOSS, CO-WORKERS. That way, one day, you’ll be a boss having employees working to make sure YOUR brand/business is the best.
What advice would you give to young women who worry about their future—or are unsure which career path to choose?
There’s no rush. Trust the process. A lot of extremely successful people became successful well after high school, college, marriage, child birth and divorces.
What will be, will be!