After years of making dazzling layer cakes and salted buttercream cookie sandwiches out of her home, Jennifer Jacobs is opening a bakery.
Jacobs, 31, is the Clearwater resident behind Wandering Whisk Bakeshop, a company she started in 2016 after her coworkers at HSN started asking how much they could pay her for the Valentine's Day red velvet cookie sandwiches she brought in to the office.
Since then, she has baked nights and weekends to fulfill Wandering Whisk orders while working a full-time job. Until October, when she was laid off at HSN.
She decided to shift all of her attention to Wandering Whisk.
"I jumped right into the business full time and didn't even look back," she said by phone recently. "This is it, I'm just doing it."
At the start of this year, Jacobs started seriously looking for a space she could call her own, a place where she could host baking classes and work on the wedding cakes and other specialty orders that make up her livelihood.
She found it in April, on the border of Pinellas Park and St. Petersburg, about 10 to 15 minutes from downtown St. Petersburg. She's calling it a "boutique bakery studio," and plans to open in July or August if everything goes according to plan.
The idea is to spend most of the time baking her custom creations, but on a larger scale.
"Currently, I can only take on whatever fits in my fridge," she said.
The bakery will be open to the public primarily during pop-ups, where guests can browse a "whole case of desserts," especially around the holidays.
And she has grand plans for baking classes, everything from simple decorating classes to courses for people who already enjoy baking and want to take it to the next level. Some, she'll teach while guests watch; others will be more interactive. Topics will likely include buttercream piping and making macarons.
"I feel it's important for people to have a tangible creative skill," she said. "I know what it's like to sit at a desk all day, so I want people to be able to come in with their loved ones and learn a new skill. Honestly, I could see myself stopping the custom stuff and just teaching one day."
Not that anyone would want her to do that. Jacobs thrives on word of mouth, her colorful confections a natural contender for Instagram fame.
When she posted about opening the bakery on her social media accounts, the response was "very overwhelming," she said.
"The feedback has been crazy. Lots of people were like, 'It's about time.' And they were naming the things they'd buy in the pop-ups."
Jacobs has wanted to open a bakery since she was a kid.
"A brick-and-mortar was always part of the plan," she said.
Though she thought she'd have a full-on storefront up until about three months ago, when advice from other people in the industry made her realize that all the custom work she's doing would have to come second to filling a bakery case every day.
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So she will fill that bakery case on a more sporadic basis, maybe monthly depending on how the workload shakes out.
She will also start wholesaling, which means you may see her treats at some Tampa Bay restaurants soon.
You can get a taste this weekend. She's partnering with Beans and Barlour in downtown St. Petersburg to serve boozy macaron ice cream sandwiches. They're providing the ice cream; she's providing the macarons.
Contact Michelle Stark at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @mstark17.