Vendor Spotlight | Sweet Satisfaction Bakery

Happy Spotlight Thursday lovelies! I am so excited to tell you about my sweet and insanely talented friends Jeri and Julianna today, from Sweet Satisfaction Bakery in Keota, Iowa! They are some of the most authentic, passionate and fun people I’ve ever met. They are always dreaming and scheming ways to be more innovative, learn new things and make every single client experience, no matter how small, an outstanding one. Oh yeah, and their baked goods are heavenly!

Here are a few words, ok a few many, from these two awesome women!

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Tell us a bit about yourselves, what makes you tick? What are your backgrounds?

Julianna: All my life I’ve definitely gravitated toward creativity and creating things with my hands. Ever since I can remember I’ve been getting out the glue, construction paper and glitter to create my works of art, ranging from some funky holiday cutouts to glittering my phone. It seems I’ve always got a project going that I’m excited about. I definitely don’t want to leave out volleyball. I began playing in the 7th grade along with most other sports and when I hit the 9th grade everything seemed to come together and click. I absolutely loved volleyball and I couldn’t get enough of it. So I basically gave up everything else in order to focus on volleyball because I was incredibly passionate about it (and I still am). All my hard work paid off. After high school I had the opportunity to play volleyball at the collegiate level at the University of Missouri. I learned so many invaluable life lessons that no doubt apply to my everyday life and there are times I look back so thankful to have gone through those experiences because they make me a better person today. Without volleyball I wouldn’t be doing what I am today.

Jeri:  I’ve always liked to cook and bake.  Being older than Julianna (I’m the mom), my career path has been very different.  I had a long a rewarding career as a Registered Nurse.  A graduate of The University of Iowa, I spent my time as a nurse, mom, and wife on the farm.  Ok, so I didn’t really do any day-to-day activities on the farm but we lived on the farm.  I spent the last several years of my nursing career in hospice.  This I found to be the most rewarding and meaningful “work” as a nurse.  I really loved this area of healthcare and had very mixed feelings when I left the work force for what I thought was retirement.  I had busied myself with buying and selling vintage jewelry and building a new home.  And, we were blessed with our first grand child who I helped to babysit for.

How did Sweet Satisfaction Bakery come to be your reality? Why did you start the business?

Julianna– Well it really all began with volleyball. After college I had the opportunity to travel to Europe to play professionally. I knew I at least wanted to give it a try and I am so glad I did. I ended up in a tiny town in northern Finland called Kuusamo. And when I say northern Finland I mean northern Finland. (look it up on the map- it’s WAY up there!) We could actually see Russia from our town and we were just a couple hours from the Arctic Circle. I know because we went there. Also, Santa is from Finland, did you know that? He has his own little village up there at the Arctic Circle. I learned so many things about Finland and their history and culture.  Also, reindeer are real. Not the magical kind but the live animal kind. For some reason, I thought they were mythical creatures that you only see in the movies. (you know how as a child when you somehow make things up in your head to be true and for some reason never stop believing it is? this is one of those cases) I mean I had never seen one in real life until Finland when I was happily surprised to find out that yes, they are in fact real. You can laugh at me for that, it’s warranted.

Anyhow, back on track…I had no idea what to expect when going to play professional volleyball on a completely different continent. I knew I was going to be playing a lot of volleyball but that was about it. Aside from learning the culture, I did a lot of napping, Internet surfing, and cooking. We had a ton of down time, and we were in a small town that was somewhat isolated so there wasn’t much to do in town– that’s when I discovered that I really wanted to bake. I love all things sweet, candy and pastry related and I knew then that baking was my calling. As soon as I discovered that, I was so excited and it hasn’t changed since.

Jeri:  Julianna actually has baking and cooking in her blood.  My mother-in-law was well known as a top-notch cook and baker. Julianna spent time when she was young helping Grammy knead and bake bread.  After visiting her and taking a trip through Europe, we’re back in Iowa and Julianna has decided to make baking a career. In May, 2011 Julianna worked on a business plan, while I spent my time enjoying our beautiful new home with its large top of line gourmet kitchen. Julianna named her business “Sweet Satisfaction.”  The business was entirely Julianna’s baby and I, the assistant.  We set up shop in my kitchen and were quickly filling up the garage with all things baking.  We participated in area farmers markets and found that yes, our products were in demand.  We held on tight and we were off!

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What sets SSB apart from other Corridor area bakeries?

Julianna– There are a lot of things that set us apart from area bakeries. We put a lot of effort into what most would call customer service or customer satisfaction. We go out of our way to make it easy for our customers and provide them with a really great experience (as well as tasty treats). We deliver in our area for free and we really try to cater to what the customers want. When they place an order, we try our best to customize it to exactly what they want, even if it’s not on our menu. We try not to be too “cookie cutter” or “run of the mill”. That’s probably the biggest thing that sets us apart. Of course I am biased, but I think that the quality of our products really sets us apart. We spend so many hours perfecting our recipes and making them just right. And if something isn’t right, we don’t stop until it is. Striving to be the best we can be is very important to us.

Jeri–  We work hard to make sure our customers are satisfied, often thinking outside the box. We deliver for free, even if it means enlisting the help of the husbands.  We don’t nickel and dime our customers either. For example, we’re happy to pre-cut wedding sheet cakes and cheesecakes, no extra charge.  We offer free consultations for all of our wedding customers, including samples of flavors they are considering.  We not only have  pictures of weddings we have done but we also help them realize what they cake may look like by using Styrofoam cake forms.  As a “cherry on top” we also offer a 5″ round 1st Anniversary Cake to our couples. This, of course, is FREE.

Many of our recipes have been handed down through the generations in our family.  Another thing that I believe sets us apart is our own sourdough starter.  It was developed in 2011 in our kitchen without yeast and has proven to be a customer favorite.  It is robust and strong.   And, of course our pies are winners all around.  Home made flaky crusts with fillings made from scratch using fresh fruit or fresh frozen fruit.  No canned pie fillings for us!

{Is your mouth watering yet?!}

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Do you do fondant and buttercream cakes? What types of creations do you offer?

We do both fondant and buttercream cakes. And although fondant cakes looks beautiful and polished, we often suggest our customers stick to buttercream. It is more budget friendly as well as fluffy, creamy and delicious. We do anything from a small 6″ round cake to multi-tiered wedding cakes. Nothing is too big or small for us to tackle. We can also promise that the cake you get will be customized to your liking. No two cakes are ever the same!

What are your most popular flavors and orders for weddings and other special occasions? (ie. cookies, pies, tarts, cakes, etc.)

Julianna– That’s a hard question to answer and I don’t really have a great one. For weddings, we generally do some variation on a tiered cake and then it’s usually either cupcakes or sheet cakes. There really seems to be no rhyme, reason or magical formula for what a bride wants. It varies from event to event and it’s never predictable. As far as flavors go, we get a lot of requests for the usual white, chocolate & red velvet but one of our other most popular flavors is definitely the raspberry swirl. It’s a white cake with raspberry filling and buttercream icing. Heavenly if you ask me.

We’ve also been able to provide desserts for some other big events and usually those require some sort of single serving dessert that is very visually appealing. I really enjoy doing the types of events where they say this is the event we’re having, I want this type of product and I want it to look fancy, just do whatever you think will be the best. Of course it’s different for each event, but I love it when I’m allowed some creative based on some criteria they lay out. Very similar to a styled shoot where there’s a vision and everything comes together to complete it. I love that!

Jeri– As far as pies go, wedding favorites are tart cherry, blueberry, apple and peach.

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What is the most creative wedding you’ve ever been a part of as a baker/cake artist?

That can be a tough question to answer because every wedding is so unique and some weddings are definitely more traditional than others. But in the fall of 2012, we were asked to do the cake for a steampunk themed wedding. It was fantastic. The bridal party went so far as to wear costumes for the wedding. It was so unique and fit the couple so perfectly. I love it when a couple does what they want for their wedding and doesn’t worry about what others think. The cake turned out very cool too. It was a vintage suitcase with some really cool hollow books on that, then a top hat and an adorable cutout of a couple to top it off. It all came together so perfectly. It was so neat.

We also have a 1920’s Gatsby themed wedding coming up this summer that I’m so excited to do. It’ll be a big tiered cake with lavish decorations like pearls and feathers. I absolutely cannot wait to see how the cake turns out and how they have their venue all decorated for the special day. I’m really looking forward to it!

As both a guest and a vendor, what is your favorite part of a wedding?

Julianna- As a vendor, of course I love to see how the cake comes together and I also really enjoy getting to set it up at the venue,  seeing all the decorations and the finished product. It’s so rewarding to see a vision come together. It really takes a team to put on a wedding and it’s so cool how so many different individuals (sometimes complete strangers) each play a role in making things happen and work together to make it perfect. I also really love to see the photos when everything is said and done. It’s kind of the behind the scenes stuff that guests and vendors aren’t privy to seeing on the wedding day. Wedding photos are really such a treasure.

As a guest to a wedding there’s so many things I love. Of course I love to see what they chose as their meal and I definitely love eating the cake (whether I made it or not). Just that “love is in the air” feeling that I like at weddings. Everyone is so happy and it’s such a special occasion for so many people- especially the bride and groom. I just love to see everything come together and fall into place just the way it’s supposed to – just the way the bride and groom dreamed it would.

Jeri- I love to see the finished product on display for everybody to see.  We take pride in setting up our cakes at the venue and we take a lot of time to get this part just right.  We always take lots of pictures of not only the cake but also the venue in general. I think the pictures are nice for couples to see how different venues look and what kinds of decorations were used.

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Anything else you’d like people to know about SSB? 

Julianna– Gosh, I just want people to know we take a lot of pride in what we do and we really do strive to make everything we do the best it can possibly be. We are passionate about providing really great products and services.

Jeri– We will be participating in the Cedar Rapids Farmers Markets on these dates, 6/21, 7/19, 8/16 and 9/20.  We will also be participating in farmers markets in Washington and our home town of Keota.  Come on out and get to know us.  As far as weddings go, we do still have a few dates open for 2014.  We are now accepting bookings for 2015.

{ Website | Facebook | Also find them on Instagram @SweetSatisfactionBakery }

Ok, so I didn’t edit a ton out of this one. Can you not tell how passionate and amazing these two are just from their answers?! Even if you just need a birthday cake or bread for dinner on Tuesday (or any night), give Sweet Satisfaction a call. I have worked with them on numerous occasions and not only am I wowed every time, but I always leave having had a great conversation and many laughs. I cannot recommend SSB enough. Hugs gals! You are the best!

xoxo, Jenn

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NOTE: All photos courtesy of Sweet Satisfaction Bakery

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