Laura Jaramillo—or “Loli”—takes cake baking to the next level. She’s a bespoke cake designer and artist and a professional pastry chef, a graduate of world-class culinary arts school Le Cordon Bleu London. We connected online about a year ago and I’ve been itching to share her beautiful work every time I find myself liking one of her stunning cakes on Instagram.
Below, she shares her journey from baking in London’s professional kitchens to starting her own small business from her home kitchen in southwest London, talks about how she’s adapting to the challenges Covid-19 has thrown her way, and reveals some of the values and qualities that are important to her and her work.
LITTLE OBSERVATIONIST: Give us your tweet-sized elevator pitch. What’s your business all about?
LAURA JARAMILLO: LoliPatisserie is a bespoke cake and patisserie service.
LITTLE OBSERVATIONIST: Now tell us more: What sets you apart from your competition?
LAURA JARAMILLO: My name is Laura. I am passionate about craftsmanship, sourcing and using seasonal products, and working with the best possible ingredients to produce show stopping bakes.
I have over 20 years of experience in London’s most exciting and challenging pastry kitchens. When your order from LoliPatisserie, you can rest assured that a lot of knowledge, experience and detail has gone into every single one of my products.
I am extremely passionate about provenance of ingredients and the story behind them. I love to work with Colombian Chocolate Casa Luker. I know I’m supporting a wonderful story behind the product and helping struggling cocoa farmers and their families. I work using ethical sustainable ingredients like Fairtrade sugars and organic British milled flours. I only use Nielsen Massey pure vanilla extracts and pastes; they are a small family-owned company crafting natural flavoured extracts.
I am a Cordon Bleu alumni and I thrive on excellence.
If I were to describe my work, I would have to use the following words as they have become part of my narrative and they feel like home: colour, movement, texture, femininity, contrast.
LITTLE OBSERVATIONIST: Share a bit of background on yourself and your business.
LAURA JARAMILLO: I am based in Raynes Park where I work from my very small home kitchen. LoliPatisserie started after the birth of my first son, as an escape and as a way to log my pastry experience as a chef in London. Then, slowly, friends started asking for cupcakes and macarons and then small commissions became weekly events! I left my full time job after the birth of my second son and launched LoliPatisserie as a business.
My husband started calling me Loli since our very first date and now everyone knows me as Loli. I’ve been trading for three years now. I do miss the hustle and the excitement of restaurant service. I miss the brigade. I miss late night beers after last orders! It’s a lonely and demanding job working from home with no one to bounce ideas around with, no help, no conversations… but I get to see my boys every morning and every night, which is something I didn’t have before! (My days in the professional kitchen started at 6am and sometimes went till midnight!)
One of my highest accomplishments was cooking an afternoon tea for Faye Marschler, the Evening Standard food critic, and getting rave reviews!
I’ve been inspired by many chefs who have pursued their own business after leaving the stress of a professional kitchen. One in particular is Maria Elia who now runs very successful pop-up food events all over Europe. We worked closely through my time at the Whitechapel Gallery where her knowledge of Mediterranean food was addictive and her passion and experience lead her to create her own path in this very brutal and over saturated industry.
I also have to pay homage to my maternal grandmother. I am the person today because of her love of baking.
LITTLE OBSERVATIONIST: What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve been given that still resonates with you today?
LAURA JARAMILLO: The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given was by an extraordinary cake designer, Jasmine Rae. I took part in one of her webinars with If I Made where she reached out to cake artists in the industry struggling to get their product out there and get their worth. Cake artists are some of the most underpaid people. Our art is not valued correctly and sometimes we are expected to undercut our prices to fit with people’s expectations and perceptions of what a cake should cost. When talking about her own experiences she said: “One will never underestimate an architect’s valuation of their design, or the price of an artist’s sketch or painting, so why would anyone underestimate your value when it comes to your cake creations and designs?”
LITTLE OBSERVATIONIST: Which social media platforms do you use for your business? Has this been time well invested? Any tips for newcomers?
LAURA JARAMILLO: When it comes to promoting my products, I rely entirely on social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. It’s a great and cheap way to market your business.
I love engaging with followers and the cake community, whilst it is over saturated, is a very friendly and educational place. I’ve met some incredible business owners through social media. In particular, one who I admire very much is Nat Mendoza, a Brazilian pastry chef who started teaching her macarons online and now is a worldwide success. She saw a gap in the market when everyone was going crazy for these delicious but very complicated treats and made them accessible to the masses. Her online school is extremely well-established with students from every corner of the globe and her attitude and passion is addictive!
I am forever obsessed with learning new cake trends and techniques, so platforms like If I Made, Cakeflix and Masterclass are very important for my ongoing development and growth as a cake artist. These allow me to connect with other enthusiastic artists and develop new approaches and create signature styles that continue to stand out from the masses.
LITTLE OBSERVATIONIST: What have been your biggest challenges as a small business owner?
LAURA JARAMILLO: We are living in uncertain times and our industry has been hit hard by Covid-19. To say that this has been a challenge as a small business owner is an understatement! Now more than ever, we have to find ways to be more creative and imaginative. Hard times are ahead, but birthdays are not cancelled and celebrations will still happen, just in smaller numbers!!
LITTLE OBSERVATIONIST: What are your hopes for your business going forward: what would you most love to achieve as a short-term goal? And long term?
LAURA JARAMILLO: My hope for LoliPatisserie is that I can ride this wave looking ahead at the future, expand my clientele beyond the SW London borders, create a new range of products that can be posted so that I can reach more clients.
I also hope that I can move location and have a working space / studio so that I can separate my work and home life, creating a more professional and creative environment to grow.
I am very passionate about textures and colours, so my new obsession is dried flowers. Urban Flower Studio, a Cardiff-based flower design studio, are doing some incredible pieces just for cake artists, and their designs are just out of this world. Can’t wait to start playing around with this new trend.
I love having my own business. I love being able to dictate my own hours and make breakfast for my children every day and tuck them into bed every night. It’s hard, the hours are long and lonely! But I wouldn’t change it for anything!
LITTLE OBSERVATIONIST: Little Observationist began as a space to appreciate life’s little luxuries. Name three you’ve enjoyed recently.
- Sticks and Sushi take out! It’s my favourite sushi place in Wimbledon village and they did an amazing sushi delivery for my 40th.
- Getting my eyebrows groomed by my amazing beautician friend in the comfort of her own home.
- Bubble bath, candles and a glass of chilled Cote de Provence rose.
Connect with Laura: