When someone loves what they do, it shows. Jessica Rose Boutwell may not have set out to run a thriving bakery business with her mom, but it is clear this is what she is supposed to be doing.
So how do two women working in commercial real estate and electronics end up opening a thriving bakery in Old Town Scottsdale?
Simple: It all started with one amazing cake.
Three years ago, Jessica’s mom Joyce Boutwell made a cake for a friend’s bridal shower at El Chorro Lodge in Paradise Valley. That cake made an impression on El Chorro sales and catering manager Lindsey Rendon.
“The shower cake tasted amazing and was decorated beautifully,” Rendon said. “At the time, they didn’t have a shop or anything. But I said I am more than happy to start sending a couple of people your way if you think you can do it. And it kind of blew up from there.”
Soon Lindsey was booking appointments with the Boutwells and El Chorro brides, and almost immediately the mother-daughter team had multiple wedding cake orders to create every weekend.
“Now they are like the number one wedding cake place in town,” Rendon said.
“We wouldn’t be here if Lindsey didn’t encourage us,” Jessica said. “It snowballed so fast from there. I left my job six months later.”
Now, Ruze Cake House employs a staff of 10 to keep up with orders for their popular wedding cakes, cactus cookies, macarons and luscious dessert bars. Joyce runs baking operation while her energetic, 34-year-old daughter oversees the business end, handling the marketing and making final decisions on products and packaging. Jessica chose the name Ruze Cake House because ruze means rose in Czech, and her family came from Czechoslovakia. She also oversaw the design of the cake house, which opened in the Scottsdale arts district in September of last year.
“We knew we needed to open a storefront… one small kitchen oven just wasn’t enough to keep up with the five, six or sometimes eight wedding cake orders that were coming through every week,” Jessica said. And there definitely wasn’t enough room in her mom’s kitchen to bring on more employees, she adds.
Today, wedding cakes comprise about 50 percent of the business, with the other half coming from macarons, cookies, dessert bars, brownies, croissants and boba teas.
Ruze makes everything in-house and uses all-natural, clean, subtle flavors. “Ingredients are all locally sourced, including milk from Danzeisen Dairy, eggs from our chickens, and lemons from the trees of one of our former brides!”
“I’m so excited to see what they come up with for our wedding this October!” said bride-to-be Nikki O’Shea. “I checked them out on Instagram, naturally, and was blown away by their artistry and creativity… not only their cake designs, but all the confections they create.”
Gluten-free and vegan options are available on request. Ruze also hosts private parties, such as a recent unicorn-themed birthday party. Corporate orders are picking up steam, with Ruze offering catering options featuring its house-made croissants, danishes and coffee.
“We get a ton of kids from Arcadia High School coming in for Boba teas,” Jessica said, and she sees that as a very good sign. “They are trendsetters. When people in Arcadia like something, everyone wants to check it out!”
And Arcadians aren’t the only ones taking notice. With more than 18,000 Instagram followers, it’s clear social media plays a huge role in Ruze’s growth. Jessica says multiple talented photographers love to not only photograph Ruze’s beautiful baked goods, but also use the cake house setting as a backdrop for jewelry, modeling shoots and stock photography.
“We recently started reaching out to amazing creatives who want to do workshops here, since it’s such a great space,” Jessica said. In the past few months, Ruze has hosted workshops for watercolors, weaving, and ceramics.
Asked if the running a business together ever puts a strain on the mother-daughter relationship, Jessica said it took her and her mom about a year to iron out the kinks.
“At first it was a struggle. We had to learn to communicate as business partners. Even constructive criticism was hard. Now we have a perfect partnership, and we understand each other’s roles completely.”
Jessica adds her mom is like an elf in the workshop. “She’s hardcore. She can do the work of five people.”
And while running a business can sometimes be a 60 hour a week job, that suits Jessica just fine, because she knows this is exactly what she and her mom should be doing.
“I love to bop off all over the place. This works with my personality and creative style. I may be returning emails until 11:30 at night, but it doesn’t feel like work,” Jessica said.
So what does the future hold? Perhaps a commercial space for increased production, Jessica said, so Ruze can share its uniquely delicious baked goods on a grand scale.