Courtney Rich, a self-taught baker, decided years ago to throw out the boxed cake mixes for good to instead pursue real mouth-watering cakes from scratch that melt-in-your-mouth. Courtney says, “ I believe cake must be decadent, life-changing and worthy of celebration!”
Rich’s first attempt at baking was at the age of 26 for her son’s first birthday. She describes this first cake, “like a big brown mound with sprinkles and a candle,“ but when she took her first bite, she was hooked. Over the course of nine years of trial and error, Courtney taught herself the proper way to make cakes from scratch and now wants to share what she has learned with the world.
Rich graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcast Journalism. After graduating from college, she was hired at a television consulting firm, where she spent 13 years as a focus group moderator. Rich is married, and a mother of two and is currently teaching cake classes at Orson Gygi Culinary Arts Center, in Salt Lake City.
Courtney was in Dallas, TX on March 27th, 2019 to teach a workshop at the Jarrell Company. For the first time ever she took her cake classes on the road. As expected, they both sold out in the matter of 30 minutes of being posted. During the morning session, I was able to taste one of Courtney’s cakes, and it is one of the best cakes I’ve had in my life.
The Jarrell Company is a high-end plumbing appliance and hardware retailer that caterers to builders, designers, architects, and anyone else looking for appliances. They are welcoming to new business and new builders and have been in business since 1954 when they first opened their doors. They have three locations, two are named The Jarrell Company, and the other is North Texas Appliance.
Anna Matlick, the showroom manager at The Jarrell Company exclaimed “Courtney was great to work with starting with the phone calls and emails. She made it very easy and all we had to do was sit down to discuss her plan, and she handled the rest. She was extremely friendly, knowledgeable, and really engaged the class, and it made me want to start decorating cakes. Courtney has built up a very loyal fan base with some driving 2 1/2 hours forher classes. All the guests of the class were fully engaged with her technique and knowledge, making the classes a success. I would love to support Courtney in future classes,” said Matlick.
Courtney spoke to The Hype Magazine about raising her family while following her dreams.
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Looking great! Definitely learning a lot from @cakebycourtney today! Special thanks to @orsongygi As well!😍 * * * #dallasbaker #dallasfoodie #dallasfoodies #foodiesofdallas #dallasdesserts #dessertsofinstagram #dallasinsta #dallaslifestyle #dallaslife #dallaskitchens #instakitchen
You recently conducted a class at the Jarrell Company in Dallas, Texas. Can you share with us your experience from conducting the class?
It was so much fun! Teaching classes are something that absolutely love to do. I’ve been doing them in Salt Lake City for a couple of years now. It’s such a fun way to interact with my followers and show them in a hands-on setting on how to make these delicious tasting and beautiful looking cakes. For some people, they’ve never baked from scratch at all, and they’re coming to class to try something new and go outside of their comfort zone. I love watching the whole learning process for each student. I think it’s so satisfying for them to come into class with a certain skill level (or not much at all) and then leave with the way more confidence to work in the kitchen and create something from scratch.
Do you and the Jarrell Company have any plans to collaborate again in the future?
I would love to come back to Texas and conduct more classes. We don’t have anything scheduled on the calendar right now, but we had a great experience there. The Jarrell Company has the most beautiful showroom, and it is the perfect setting to conduct classes. I have a big following based in Texas, so it was a great place to have a class. We filled up the classes within ten minutes of posting them. There were two classes, one in the morning and one in the evening. The Jarrell Company would be a great place to come back to conduct future classes.
What inspired you to pursue your dream as a baker full-time?
Well, interestingly enough, it was actually never a dream of mine… I guess until just a few years ago. I went to college and graduated with a degree in Broadcast Communications from BYU. After leaving BYU, I worked at a media consulting company for thirteen years. And while working and starting to raise a family, I started baking a bit. I have always loved baking with my mom and sister growing up but only did it on occasion. And I didn’t make my first cake from scratch until my son turned one. That was about 9 and a half years ago. We were throwing a big party for his first birthday. I just really wanted to impress my in-laws, since they are really good cooks, and I had family and friends attending. I thought to myself; I cannot make a cake from a box! Instead, I decided to make it from scratch. I grabbed a Bon Appetit and got to work. It looked like a train wreck because I didn’t have the knowledge I do now about baking; however, it still tasted amazing. The flavor and texture were perfect. After that, I was finding any reason to make cakes. It turned into a hobby, and it took off from there.
What is some advice you would give someone looking to pursue a career in the entertainment business?
I would make sure they are aware of the fact that it is difficult to get into this field. It is not an occupation that pays a lot of money right away. You have to be willing to take anything in terms of internships and jobs. A lot of my fellow peers in the broadcast department at BYU were working out of small towns to report and anchor. They eventually moved up the ranks and worked in bigger markets across the country. I did internships at places like Paramount Studios, where I had to do grunt work like getting coffee. I took the job to get the experience, and it helped to have a great name on my resume. You really have to be willing to work hard no matter what the job is. It’s important to make those connections and get well-known names and brands on your resume. I also worked for a show called Celebrity Justice, which is owned by Extra. Again, it is not as big as Extra, but it allowed me to get experience and get my foot in the door. Persistence is also crucial. If you don’t hear back the first time, don’t give up. Keep trying and be persistent.
How have the traits you have learned help prepare you for what you are doing now?
Working in media research and consulting gave me a strong foundation and a good understanding of consumers. I think all of those experiences gave me the confidence I needed to start my own business in an industry that is pretty saturated. One of the things that ended up giving me great encouragement when I first started my blog was that in all these focus groups, nobody ever said they couldn’t find time for more TV. They had their shows that they would watch on a weekly basis; however, they were still interested in new content. I was hesitant to start my own blog with my recipes because of all the competition out there, but I realized people are going to make room for good content. Good content will always rise to the top, and sure enough with the help of word of mouth, it began to spread. For three years, I was building my brand by myself, and word of mouth is where most of my business was coming from. I also think that the content and quality helped my brand stand out. Being able to tell your story through your own voice is extremely important when you are building your business.
How do you balance being a mother and building your business at the same?
My top priority is my family, but I also schedule a time to work. I have missed a couple of games here and there. Even when I was consulting and traveling across the country, I had projects come up. They caused me to miss a birthday, a baseball game, parent-teacher conferences… It happens, but the most important thing is making the most out of the time you spend with your family. When I decided to step away from consulting and start my own business, I was able to spend more time with them. I was around them a lot more and went to as many basketball and baseball games as I could attend. I have to work during the day still, but plan my work hours around my kids’ schedules whenever possible. I want to be home when my kids get home from school so we can sit down and have a snack together, catch up on the day, and do homework together. I’m learning how to manage my time well when my kids are at school, and it has made me more efficient when they are at home.
I also think it has been great for them to see that I was able to turn a hobby into a business, which I never thought would be possible several years ago. It has been fun for my kids, as they have helped package materials and even helped showcase my products on television with me. Part of the reason why I started this journey was because of my kids. I wanted to make memories with them. To have them be a part of this journey means the world to me.
Originally posted on The Hype Magazine.