Business is a Cake Walk for Entrepreneur with a
Passion for Baking

Most people love sweets. Some people love to bake. But few people combine their love of sweets and their passion for baking into a full-time business.

Kathy Phan (’13, finance) noticed just how few people there were in San Diego County that operated bakeries, especially bakeries that specialized in cookies and brownies. So the San Diego native left her full-time accounting job at a local screen printing company to establish Caked Bakery in April 2017.

Phan had always planned to open her own business which is precisely why she enrolled at San Diego State in the first place. “I’ve always dreamed of having my own business,” said Phan. “I chose to attend SDSU because it has a great reputation as a business school and I hoped that a major in finance would help me learn how to run a business successfully.”

And while running a business is new to Phan, baking is not. “I grew up knowing how to bake and I’ve always loved eating desserts,” she said. “I noticed that there was a local industry gap for a bakery that specialized unique flavors for simple items, such as cookies, brownies and cake.”

Caked Bakery fills that niche by offering unusual treats such as brownies that are combined by rice cereal bars, marshmallows and cookie dough, and cookies flavored with pistachio, mocha/toffee and caramel/pecan.  “Most of my recipes are original and I love experimenting with new combinations I’ve never seen before. I also get inspiration from desserts I’ve seen on social media,” said Phan. “My most popular item – and my personal favorite – is the taro cookie. It has a unique flavor and an extra soft, chewy texture.”

Kathy Phan

Kathy Phan ('13, finance) sells her unusual cookies and brownies at SDSU basketball games

Being the sole proprietor of a new company comes with rewards, but it also has its share of challenges. “As sole proprietor, I have to control all aspects of the business without a manager or even a co-worker to reaffirm my decisions. I’ve also had to learn to manage my time much more efficiently,” Phan noted. “On the other hand, it is extremely rewarding to see the fruition of my hard work and ideas coming to life. Hearing overwhelmingly positive feedback and support from customers fuels the courage it takes to continue as an entrepreneur, especially when so many people expressed doubts and criticism when I first started.”

Doubts and criticism aside, Phan’s business has proven to be remarkably successful, given the short period of time that Caked Bakery has been in existence. Her list of outlets has steadily gown and she currently maintains a presence at several farmers’ markets around San Diego County and SDSU basketball games. She also stocks her products at a small retail establishment in Pacific Beach.

“My biggest surprise is how quickly Caked Bakery has grown. I’m looking for a physical location right now and hope to open a brick and mortar store soon,” she said. “I’m also working on an application that will allow customers to order quickly and conveniently while also allowing them to customize their orders – such as adding pecans to their chocolate chip cookie orders.”

Phan summed up her business objectives this way: “I’m hoping to modernize the dessert industry!”