The fragrant aromas of earl grey and lavender waft up from the countless bowls scattered around Kira Sun’s kitchen — an assortment of the ingredients required to perfect the Wildflour Desserts’ newest menu item: cream puff filling. On the other side of the room sits Charlotte Lau, a senior at Cupertino High School, designing the latest launch’s Instagram post on her computer. And while Lau is creating the playful and immersive content to draw in customers, Alysa Phattanaphibul, a senior at Monta Vista and the director of technology, is updating the Wildflour Desserts website.
In the Fall of 2020, Sun, Phattanaphibul and Lau, dreamt up their own bakery business, co-founding Wildflour Desserts (@wildflour.desserts). The idea for the bakery originated with Kira Sun, a junior at Monta Vista High School and Wildflour’s director of recipe development.
Said Sun, “[I] had the idea [and] reached out to Alysa and Charlotte because we were already friends. [Wildflour Desserts] started during the pandemic [because] there were a lot of people making fundraisers for various causes, and [I wanted to] help raise money for a cause in some way.”
“I also used to bake a lot and share food with people, and I couldn’t do that anymore, so this was also another way to continue doing that,” Sun said, referencing her love for baking.
Now, just over a year later, the bakery has successfully made a total of 188 orders. Every couple of weeks, the three-person team launches a new menu of specialized desserts, the process involving finding recipe inspiration and testing to perfection.
In coming up with dessert ideas, Sun enjoys experimenting with different flavor or texture combinations. In particular, she likes “taking flavor combinations that are a little bit unique […] or taking favorite combinations and applying them to a form you don’t usually get,” said Sun.
“We try to think of things that you can’t get it from local bakeries, for example, or just like nontraditional flavors, because we want it to seem a bit more specialty and like, our own thing that other people can’t recreate,” agreed Phattanaphibul.
Another dimension Sun keeps in mind when coming up with menu concepts is utilizing seasonal flavors, such as incorporating the fruits in season into Wildflour’s new desserts.
Meanwhile, Phattanaphibul pulls inspiration from “out of the box” creations on the baking show competitions she watches. As a “more […] nostalgic, sentimental dessert type of person,” she also enjoys recreating recipes reminiscent of those she baked with Kira in her childhood.
After coming up with dessert concepts, the recipes undergo an intensive testing process. With items such as the cream puffs and mini cakes, often four or more iterations are necessary to adjust ratios. Following each trial, the trio often goes to their younger siblings or parents for diverse feedback.
Subsequently, the team opens ordering forms and delivers the orders. The proceeds are then donated to a different organization every launch, depending on what specific organizations they have on their radar. “[For example, this] month is breast cancer awareness month, so we decided to do a fundraiser for that,” said Phattanaphibul.
Since its founding, over $2,000 has been donated to various organizations due to Lau, Phattanaphibul and Sun’s efforts.
However, with their growth comes having to learn the limits of their capabilities as a three-person team. Lau, the director of marketing, emphasized the challenge of persevering through the bakery’s growth stages.
“I think the roughest part was probably […] finding the time and definitely, like, persevering, especially in the beginning, because in the beginning, it’s very discouraging. Not everything kind of starts out as a big thing. You have to grow it,” said Lau.
Sharing a similar sentiment, said Phattanaphibul, “You always want to see the big numbers, right? But I think we had to realize that okay, maybe we can’t handle this many things. And it’s just learning what’s possible and what’s like a good number that you can make as much as you can, but still, upkeep the quality of it.”
Describing the journey, said Lau, “We definitely learned a lot of things along the way […] I like to think of it as smoothing a rock, [simulating and] thinking five steps ahead about possible things that can happen.”
Despite the rough patches, what makes running the business rewarding is “definitely the people who are really excited when we drop something,” said Lau — along with the fact that they get to donate the money to different causes.
“Even though this […] can look good on like when you tell people about it, we actually really enjoy doing it. […] I definitely think we would need more than three people to run this whole thing, but I think since we all love it so much, we are willing to put in the extra time and the extra effort into helping it grow,” said Phattanaphibul.
In terms of advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs, said Phattanaphibul, “I think that you need to make sure you really love what you’re doing, and it’ll grow from there.” Sun talked about remembering why you started.
Said Lau, “perseverance [is important]. It’s definitely hard in the beginning, because it’s something small, and you feel like you’re going to get judged for it a lot, but you have to put yourself out there, and it’s really cliche […], but it’s actually true — you have to put yourself out there to be seen, and it doesn’t hurt to find people to do it with you.”