Our Journey

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a note from our founder…

I know what it’s like to look at the ingredient list on the package in your hand and think, “what am I eating?”

Our food sources have become so inundated with too-long-to-be-real words for ingredients, sourced from who knows where (or nowhere, which is even worse). We’ve become so focused on quick and easy, that we have forgotten the beauty, simplicity, and community behind knowing what’s in our food, and who’s behind getting it onto our plates.

Because let’s be honest, there just isn’t time to cook big meals or bake beautiful pastries at home anymore. Between getting lunches packed, kids clothed, commuting to work, swim lessons, soccer lessons AND piano lessons), life is a constant hustle.

We’ve forgotten how beautiful and colorful and full of abundant flavors that a plate of healthy, nutritious food can be; food that’s been sourced locally and sustainably, that hasn’t negatively affected the land, animal species, or cultures it was grown in. 

I believe that you want that (that we all want that), but you just don’t have the time to drive to the farmers market, you don’t have time to read every label on every ingredients list.

I’ve been there. I’ve thought to myself,  “what in the world are we even eating anymore?”. And ultimately,that’s why I started Grain. To bring wholesome, locally-sourced, sustainably-grown, organic ingredients from farm to bakery, back into our pastries and cakes, crafting artisan textures and an explosion of flavor. 

My name is Lauren, and I am the founder and pastry chef of Grain. I help busy people bring real ingredients back to their tables and kitchens, while supporting local farmers who prioritize the sustainability of the ecosystem.

Being food-conscious can quickly become a rabbit hole, but I’m here to do the hard work for you. I offer a wide variety of cakes and pastries for your biggest celebrations and events. Whether that means a first birthday party for your newest bundle of joy, a promotion at work, the wedding to your dearest loved one, or maybe a win at the soccer game, heck, even a meeting at work! Grain customers leave the bakery (or market!) knowing they are treating their family to not just a delicious pastry, but also one that is sourced locally from sustainable farmers, made from real ingredients (that you can pronounce!) and the few items that aren’t, are all certified organic. You walk away from Grain with smiles (and sometimes buttercream!) on your face and laughter in your soul, knowing you have also supported a local small business, run solely by a young, single mom, who has a passion for pastry.

much love + butter, Lauren

Lauren’s Story: The Journey to Grain

After growing up with a very eco-conscious Dad (five different recycling bins, no washing cars outside where the soap drains into the environment, no super harsh chemicals), I already had a great respect and interest in saving the environment. Add in three years of policy debate in high school, two of the three topics centered around sustainability and alternative energy, I was keen. Jump forward to my move out west, when I was submerged into Seattle; a city whose population places a high priority on local, eco-friendly, and urban sustainability. I began learning about what it means to be sustainable, and how simple switches, like bringing reusable bags to the store, makes the difference of about 300 plastic bags per year per person. Then I discovered the local food and ingredient scene and I was hooked. 

 

The Beginning of My Passion

That’s when my journey to Grain began: with this immediate love I developed for the diverse food scene in Seattle. And I don’t just mean the diverse restaurants. I mean the ingredients, the passion, the wild beauty. The restaurants showcase this diversity in the finished form, and the local markets showcase this diversity in its raw form: local produce, local grains, local dairy, local herbs and local floral. The list goes on. I began to look at what I was eating, like that box mac and cheese that I grew up on and loved oh so much and thought, this has to change. I have to start eating better, not only for myself, but for the sake of our depleting soils, polluted air, and effects on wildlife, both plants and animals. 

My life took an unexpected, and ultimately lovely, turn when I became pregnant with my son, Kaiden. Everything about my life seemed to develop more purpose, more meaning, more love. Especially what foods I put in my body to fuel his growth, and what foods I would eventually feed him to fuel his own growth. 

When his first birthday came around, I did what any new mom does: I threw a HUGE first birthday party (never again, by the way). By the time I realized that in all of the planning (and spending!) I had forgotten a cake.

Even though I had never really baked much from scratch (except cookies) growing up, I enjoyed it, and dove in head first. I came up with four varieties of cupcakes, and debuted them at the party. Everyone loved them! It was suggested a few times that I should do this as a side hobby while I finished school. I decided to go with it, kind of… That was February of 2015. 

In March, I got a business license and started toying around; I didn’t do much for almost a year. Then in June of 2016, I did the Snohomish Wedding Tour and saw just how much people liked my cakes. I thought to myself, wow, maybe I am good at this. 

 

A Business, Not a Hobby

So starting that July, I did the Snohomish Farmers Market. It was a huge success, and my cupcakes flew off the stands. I followed the market season with holiday events and bazaars. Fast forward to May of 2017, I dove into the market season from the start, touting my cakes at both the Snohomish Farmers Market and the Kirkland Wednesday Market. 

That June was my second Snohomish Wedding Tour, and it really was the pivotal moment in my business. That show was such a success for me. It showed me that I can do this, and do it well. So I jumped in. I moved into a commercial kitchen July 1st and kicked it into gear. That summer was my tell tale summer: I could do this!

 

It Hasn’t Always Been Easy

One of the first questions I get asked is, “So where did you go to pastry school?” And although I always answer sheepishly, that’s kind of the beauty of it all – I didn’t. However, not having gone to pastry school nor business school, I was bound to make some mistakes – and I did. 

With all of the growth and my contracted commissary kitchen hours being kind of awkward and limited, I hired someone to help me and although we got along great, the addition to my team had a negative impact on my bottom line, because I simply didn’t know my numbers (yet!). I wasn’t at a stage – or prepared enough – to make that step, and it showed me that I didn’t really want to make that step, at least yet. So, I went back to a one woman show and rounded out 2017 with some killer holiday events and markets, and spending Christmas with my family. 

 

My Why

Now, it’s 2018. It’s my big year – I can feel it. I’ve got some big goals for 2018, one of which is better balancing my family and my business. Family is what brings me full circle; particularly my son, who is the reason I started this whole crazy pastry thing in the first place. 

Sure, I get up at 4:30 every morning to roll doughnuts, but I do it because I want to share the passion and mindfulness behind eating a pastry that has only the most wholesome ingredients: rich yellow butter from pasture-raised cows munching through the rolling hills of Ireland, locally grown and milled flour from a small family farm, never-separated cream-top whole milk from a small family farm who grazes their happy cows all day, minimally processed sea salt, organic cane sugar, bright-yolked nutritious chicken eggs from local pastured chickens that peck away at the ground all day every day. 

I want to share the wealth of our community with you, to show you that eating and consuming sustainably and locally tastes so, so much better, and you’re not only supporting sustainable farming practices, but you’re supporting a family putting their child into an after-school club or sport, instead of filling a big corporation’s CEO’s pocket. 

I get up at 4:30 in the morning so that I can finish doughnuts by 7:00, so that when my son wakes by 7:30, I am back in the house with him and can spend time helping him get ready for school. After getting him to school, I zoom back to the bakery, bake until 3:15, and go get my kiddo. We go to swim lessons, cook a healthy paleo dinner together, and are in bed by 8:00. I stay up till 9:30 or so to get all of the emails done, receipts entered, and blogs written. This is what you’re supporting, by supporting and buying from Grain. You’re supporting a young, hard working, single momma, doing her best for her and her son.

But it’s about more than the doughnuts. By purchasing pastries and cakes at the market, and custom orders at the bakery, and wedding cakes delivered on your big day, and an entire resource library on sustainability and the love of pastry in written form of our blog, I’m helping you – my loyal customers – learn how to incorporate more whole foods, grown sustainably on local farms, into your family’s diet.

Instead of filling your kiddos’ tummies with a laundry list of ingredients (and preservatives) in big box cupcakes, you know that Grain is a short drive away to pick up delicious and wholesome treats. Instead of picking up a box of those big box doughnuts (filled with no-one-wants-to-know what) for that big meeting at work, you know that with two days notice, you can pick up a box of bomboloni doughnuts from Grain, bringing a decadent European delight to work instead.

It’s time to rethink where you’re spending your money, who you’re voting for with your money. 

Vote community. Purchase from and support local, small businesses and local farmers. Eat sustainable, and support Grain.

 

What I Do When I’m Not Slinging Dough or Frosting Cakes

First and foremost, you’ll find me with my kiddo. Now four years old, he is my main drive, my reason for striving to be the best I can be. I absolutely love his intelligence, his wit, and his heart. His heart most of all. This little man has so much kindness, compassion, and sensitivity in his heart, I just can’t believe he’s mine.

I was born and raised in La Porte, Indiana! Yep, I’m a midwest gal, and I miss my family each and every day. I travel back home once a year, at least, and I am lucky that my parents visit us here in the great Pacific Northwest usually once or twice a year as well.

I love gardening. Although my son and I are apartment dwellers currently, you’ll still find two strawberry planters, a sungold cherry tomato, snap and sugar peas, chives, green onions, spinach, mixed greens, violas, pansies, a gorgeous daisy, succulents, a peony, two blueberry bushes, and hopefully soon a fig tree, on our balcony. I love growing our own fruits and veggies!

I also love traveling. It’s what most of us daydream about in our spare time, right? Well, it’s my dream, it’s my goal, it’s my drive. I want to be able to continue to travel and experience the world and all of the amazing people, cultures, histories, and of course, pastries! that interweave on this great planet we call Earth. I am forever grateful to my parents for raising my sister and I with that mindset, and sacrificing what they did to be able to give my sister and I one of these experiences each and every year, always ensuring that we not only learned the history of our destination, but we experienced it, and appreciated it.

As a little aside, I also have two currently-dormant non-baking hobbies that have really shaped my life! One, is SCUBA diving. In fifth grade, my parents put me through PADI SCUBA certification. Yep, that’s right. No hotel course for this gal. For 14 years, I have been a certified SCUBA diver, and I’ve loved every ocean-minute of it. And second, is horses; I actually moved out here in 2012 to intern under a dressage instructor to continue my Equestrian Studies career and become a horse trainer and dressage instructor. That obviously didn’t pan out, but I do still have my horses (one retired in Indiana, and one here, taking a year or two or three off while I get my business off its feet), and I can’t wait to get back in my black, leather saddle. The industry as a career just wasn’t my cup of tea, but the horses themselves provide an almost meditation for me, and the sport is great therapy for my weak knees.

 

 

So that’s it, folks. That’s how this little bakery came to be. I’d love to see you stop in to the bakery for a doughnut, or place an order for your next party or event.  I want to meet each and every person who has helped make this pastry business a reality for me and my family. And remember, if you take only one thing away from my story please let it be this – eat local, and eat sustainable.

much love + butter,

Lauren