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Rising Stars: Meet Lauren Shaffer

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lauren Shaffer. 

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
Hi! I started baking at a super young age, just helping my grandma in her kitchen and getting meals ready for the family. That really fostered a great love of food in me and especially food made with good intentions and love. My aunts are all also amazing cooks and bakers, so I was always surrounded by an amazing women who made just the best food. When I was a very anxious high schooler, I decided there really wasn’t another option I needed to go to culinary school and be a pastry chef. While culinary school was pretty dope, I definitely feel like I’ve learned a lot more applicable skills just working in the field. When I got my first restaurant job, I fell in love all over again. The fast pace and high expectations and crass people were where I wanted to be. Cleveland really has an outstanding food scene and I’m so fortunate to have grown up as a chef in it. I always had this little voice in the back of my head pushing me towards owning a bakery one day, and as I had amazing opportunity after amazing opportunity of working in great restaurants and bakeries here, it got louder and louder. Once I gave in to it and started to work through what I wanted said bakery to be is when Black Sheep really started to take shape. Then BAM pandemic. Which honestly gave me to time and space to be away from working for someone else and really hammer down how to make my own way. Plus, everyone was stress eating, so that really worked out for me. Once I picked up a couple consistent and incredible wholesale accounts, it started looking like I really could do this on my own full time. And holy cow, it’s been an amazing ride so far. Flour In Moreland Hills was my first wholesale account and low key my favorite one, the chef-owner also has a pasta company and he offered to lease me a corner of space in said warehouse; it was a game changer. Taking the bakery out of my house and into a space with SPACE was 100% what I needed, and I’m eternally grateful for Mytro believing in me enough to make the offer. With the space and time to really get after it, we went from 2 weekly accounts and the rare custom order to 6 weekly accounts, a weekly farmers market, and a great variety of custom orders, it’s truly been the most terrifying and fabulous thing to watch grow. As we’ve grown, so had the team! I now have two totally rad employees and my very tolerant husband still plays the role of Mr. Fix It every time I say yes to too many things and need orders delivered all across northeast Ohio in the same day 😅 Our ultimate goal is to open a cafe bakery in Cuyahoga Falls sometime in the next two years. 

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
I think smooth is a bit subjective; we pivot well. Our main struggle is that ingredient prices have doubled or more in the last year and just trying to figure out how to price appropriately and still be approachable. 

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I’d definitely describe my food as southern home style. I bake a ton of cookies, pies, biscuits, and cinnamon rolls. At the market, it really lights my soul up when people say, “you’re the biscuit people!” Like talk about life goal achievement there. One day I may have a food cart called Biscuit Bitches just for funsies. I think what sets us apart is my team, and I truly love what we’re doing, and that comes across in the food. I 100% believe you can actually taste the love. 

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on luck and what role, if any, you feel it’s played for you?
I’ve had an amazing amount of good luck mostly in the timing of how things have shaken out. We seem to be making the right decision at the right time, and I thank all the lucky stars for that. 

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