Name: Julie Anne Hession Location: Private studio off of Sunset in Las Vegas (call for tastings and consultations)
Company Name: Julie Anne’s Number of Years in Business: 3 (2 years operated as a bakery/café; 1 year as a boutique cake decorator/caterer)
How did you get started in pastry arts? I have been baking for as long as I can remember. Having discovered a passion for pastry at a very young age, I spent countless hours in the kitchen, whipping up desserts for family and friends. My “schooling” consisted of poring over cookbooks, experimenting with various ingredients and techniques on my own, and of course some invaluable tips from mom. It eventually occurred to me that I should follow this passion and turn my love of baking into a livelihood.
What did you do prior to this? Before I started Julie Anne’s, I was a graduate school student at Duke University in North Carolina. Although I have lived in Las Vegas since 1992, I decided to go to Duke to get my MBA, which has been a valuable asset for running my business. The decision to attend Duke ended up being a good one for many reasons—that’s where I met my husband!
If you didn't design cakes and pastries for a living what would you be doing instead? I’m pretty sure that I would still be doing something food-related. I’ve done a little bit of food writing on the side, and I also publish a blog, which I really enjoy, so I think that I would be a full-time food writer and cookbook author.
What are some of your hobbies? I like to keep fit (this helps when you are surrounded by sweets on a daily basis!), so I take Bikram yoga classes, I run, and I love to go hiking when my schedule permits. I also enter cooking contests--my highlight so far was winning a Food Network cake competition last year. My husband and I own two rescue dogs, and I am a true animal-lover. We also enjoy traveling and trying new restaurants and types of cuisine.
What is the craziest wedding experience you’ve ever had? When I owned my bakery/café, I booked two weddings on the same day. Not only did we make the wedding cakes, but most of the food as well. Both clients were good customers at the store, and I didn’t want to turn them down. Little did I know that the weddings would be held at the same time on completely opposite sides of town. We ended up shutting down the café for the day so that the entire staff could focus on the weddings (we provided complimentary pastries and coffee outside for customers who did not know that we were closed). I positioned my strongest people at one wedding, and I started out at the other wedding. Once everything was secure there, I hurried to the other side of town to attend to the other wedding. It’s a miracle that none of the food or logistics was mixed up. Both weddings worked out beautifully, but I have never been so exhausted in my entire life!
What is the best wedding experience you’ve ever had? The first wedding that I ever did, purely because I felt the greatest sense of accomplishment after the cake had been successfully delivered to a smiling bride-to-be. I recall being extremely nervous throughout the process. Will I finish on time? Will the cake look right? Will the couple be happy? Fortunately, the answer to each of these questions was “Yes”!
What is your inspiration? I am inspired every day from things that I see, articles that I read, and even from people who I meet. Sometimes I will see a unique color combination in a beautifully decorated house, and I will think “Hmmm…..that would look beautiful on a cake.” If I find a delicious-sounding pie recipe in a magazine, I might try to turn that concept into a cake flavor. I also look at what other cake designers around the world are doing to get ideas for shapes, patterns, and borders. Last but certainly not least, I am inspired by my clients, as their ideas and personalities help to form the foundation of my designs. Name an exotic location you’d like to visit soon. I’ve heard wonderful things about Turks and Caicos, and the photos that I’ve seen have been beautiful. It looks like the perfect place for those who really want to escape! Why do your clients choose you over some of your competitors? Because we are a smaller business, I take ownership of and am personally involved with each and every project that I do, from the initial consultation to the delivery. As a result, I feel a great sense of responsibility for each order, and I pride myself on being a perfectionist with an eye for detail. Another benefit that we offer is our flexibility. If you don’t see your favorite flavor listed, we can create a flavor for you. Julie Anne’s also does custom sculpted cakes and personalized cookies, so we can serve as “one stop shopping” for wedding cakes, groom’s cakes, and party favors!
What is the best piece of advice you can offer a bride and groom on their wedding day? Don’t be afraid to ask for the things that you want, and don’t let other people convince you that you want something else. Remember that your wedding is about both of you, so don’t plan your celebration to please other people. If you love pistachio, then make (at least part of) your cake pistachio! Honor your family and friends with a special toast, personalized favors, or a thank-you note. The best way for guests to enjoy themselves during a wedding celebration is by seeing that the bride and groom are enjoying their special day!