MEET TESSA: Introducing Tessa Sam - published writer and expert baker. After working at a bakery part-time, Tessa discovered that being surrounded by bowls of buttercream and covered in flour was her happy place, and decided to train in pastry at the Peggy Porschen Academy in London, UK. After graduation, she returned home to Vancouver, BC to open Sweet Bake Shop just steps away from her apartment. With its adorable pink decor and delicious treats, Sweet Bake Shop was an immediate success. A year after opening the bakery, Tessa was presented with the opportunity to write her own baking book with Penguin Random House, and made the difficult decision to close the bakery and focus on writing and creating content full-time. Published in March of 2018, "Sweet Bake Shop: Delightful Desserts for the Sweetest of Occasions" is now available for purchase in all major bookstores and online worldwide!
What does babes supporting babes mean to you?
To me, it means women (and men!) supporting each other, both in business and in our personal lives. Whether that happens in the form of purchasing something from another woman’s business to help support it, offering to babysit for a few hours or simply sending a text letting them know that you are thinking about them, being part of a community and supporting each other is what comes to mind when I hear that!
Do you have a life mantra/motto that you live by?
Work hard and be nice. My mom used to say that to me! Truly though, working really hard and being kind to others will only ever move you in the right direction.
What is your spirit animal?
A flamingo. They wear pink every day and that’s definitely my style!
What is your proudest babe moment or achievement?
Hands down, it would be having my baking book published! It was always on my life list of things I wanted to do and when it hit bookstore shelves this past March, I cried. My whole heart (and two-and-a-half years of my life) went into the making of that book and I’m so happy to be able to share it with fellow bakers everywhere.
What is your most used app?
I would say it’s a tie between Instagram and Planoly, the app I use to schedule and organize all of my social media posts.
What product would you seriously stockpile if you found out they weren’t selling anymore?
Food-wise, it would have to be Franks Red Hot hot sauce and Old Dutch Ketchup Chips. I’d also have to load up on K’pure Naturals Drenched Body Butter - it’s the best thing I’ve ever put on my skin!
What emoji best describes you?
Maybe the laughing so hard with tears one? I definitely have a good laugh (usually at myself) almost daily! It’s too bad there isn’t one of a girl slipping and falling though – I am so clumsy sometimes, it’s crazy!
What was the best piece of advice you received when you were first starting your career?
To keep my head down, focus on what was right in front of me and not compare my work to anyone else’s work, because comparison is the thief of joy, which is so true! That and always have a strong handshake.
Who should EVERYONE be following right now?
Right now, I’m a really big fan of @mattcrump. The colours in his feed are magical!
When I dance I look like…
An incredibly awkward human! Haha!
What is your go-to karaoke song?
Oh, I am terrible at karaoke! But after a few glasses of wine, anything by Whitney Houston will do!
Tell us about a Babe who has supported you?
I don’t think I’d be here without the incredible support of so many – it’s hard to choose just one, to be honest. Can I tell you about my mom? She’s worked so hard my whole life, she now owns and runs her own small business and still makes time to tackle my financial questions/paperwork. She has cheered me on from the first day that I started my company and has even purchased my book for all of her friends, even though she didn’t need to (I could have given her some!). She’s the best.
How would you describe your personal style?
I’d say casual and feminine. I own a lot of pieces with frills, bows, and lace, however, I usually dress them down with a pair of glittery Keds sneakers.
What’s your favourite thing about living in Vancouver?
The housing prices, of course. Haha! No. Really though, the food scene is amazing. We are so lucky to live in such a multicultural city with so many great restaurants, cafes and food trucks. Also, this city is absolutely gorgeous!
What is the most fulfilling part of your career?
Hands down, it’s connecting with customers, social media followers, and fellow bakers. I have met so many wonderful people in the past 7-and-a-half years through my job, some of whom have become great friends.
What inspired you to start pursuing baking?
I found myself at a job that made me miserable and I desperately needed a change. I had always loved baking but the thought of doing something I loved and having it make money was so foreign to me! A few years after leaving my job (and brushing up on my baking skills), I just went for it and started my own little company, run out of my downtown apartment. I can’t believe it’s almost been 8 years since that day! I was so desperate for a creative outlet and that desperation, coupled with corporate job boredom and my love of baking, made me just go for it.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Oh, French fries, for sure! Either that or a pepperoni and jalapeno pizza.
What quality are you working on yourself right now?
I’m working on being gentle with myself if that makes sense. As an entrepreneur, you tend to guilt yourself into thinking you should be doing more, working harder, being better, working longer hours and it can be mentally (and physically) exhausting at times. So I’m learning to not be so hard on myself if I take time off or don’t stay up finishing writing emails late into the evening or if I don’t take that extra cake order so that I can spend that time with my dog or my friends.
What is the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome in business?
I’m very independent and I don’t like asking for help, so I’d say it would have to be learning that I can’t do it all myself and to ask for help when needed. It’s something I still struggle with but I’ve gotten much better at it in the past year or so.
What advice do you have for those trying to break into the baking industry?
Be prepared to work hard because it is a fast-paced and competitive industry, for sure. That and wear comfortable shoes ;)