Steveston Village has recently welcomed the opening of a new bakery. Sugar ‘n Ice, owned and operated by Amira Ladha, offers a range of delectable home baked treats and visually stunning tiered cakes.
While a career as a baker was not something Ladha had originally planned for, she has not looked back since opening the doors to this charming spot. We asked Ladha how she turned her hobby into a business.
How did you get involved in your chosen business?
Amira Ladha: When I graduated with my Bachelors Degree from SFU, I was actively looking for a job, as well as looking at other degree options. During this time, like most newly graduated students entering the work force, I found it a struggle to take what I had learned from school and apply it to an everyday job, which I enjoyed. In-between jobs, I started baking from home and eventually decided to pursue it full-time.
Has baking always been something you wanted to pursue?
Definitely not. Since I was young, I thought I would be in a professional position, and once I graduated SFU, I was looking at different Law Schools in England. While I enjoyed Criminology at SFU, I was conflicted as to whether I really wanted to be a lawyer. Always being a foodie, I actively watched cooking and baking shows, which eventually pushed me to start baking from home and taking small scale orders. This quickly evolved and I started getting too busy to work from my home kitchen.
At this point, I had to decide what I wanted to pursue and I eventually decided to go to the International Culinary Institute in Manhattan, New York for cake design. I took an intensive four month course, which focused on wedding cakes. When I returned, I worked from home for about a year and a half, and then decided to open up a retail bakery, Sugar ‘n Ice.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love seeing people’s reactions to the cakes they order. Seeing them happy, makes me happy. I also love the decorating aspect. I love making sugar flowers and sculpting little animals for kids’ birthday cakes.
What was the greatest challenge you faced while starting a bakery in Richmond?
Being a small business, it’s always hard to get your name out there. Opening in November 2015, it was really difficult as Steveston is very weather dependent. There was a lack of foot traffic, which is hard when opening a new business and all you want is people to know you’re there.
What can customers expect to find when they enter the doors of Sweet ‘n Ice?
A cute, little, inviting cake shop filled with a sweet aroma. I’ve tried to keep the colours neutral and clean, focusing on whites and light greys. It’s feminine but not overtly so. People tell me it’s like walking into a Pinterest Board. The pastry case is always filled with a variety of mini desserts, full cakes, cookie sandwiches, macarons, and brownies. We also keep a couple of different panini on rotation and have a variety of teas and coffee on hand.
What are Sugar ‘n Ice’s best sellers?
Our Mini Mango Cheesecake (a plain cheesecake topped with fresh mango curd),
Ferrero Mini Cake (layers of chocolate cake, milk Callebaut ganache, Nutella drizzle and crispy wafer flakes), macarons (mint chocolate, Nutella, and earl grey), 5″ High Buttercream Drip Cakes topped with macarons and meringues, and homemade ice cream sandwiches.
How do you hope to see your bakery grow in the next few years?
I just want to see the little cake shop filled with people. I love that the business primarily focuses on custom cakes, however, I would love for the store front to grow. Right now we are a small team, where I am doing all of the baking and cake decorating, but I would love to bring on a team of enthusiastic cake decorators to support the team.
What is your best piece of advice for young entrepreneurs?
Make sure to plan. Having an idea or dream is the foundation for any business, however, you need to be able to put everything down on paper of how you are going to execute. Being organized is key. Also make sure to not give up. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in this world, especially being a small business owner, however, you just need to step back, remember why you started and keep pushing forward. There are tons of ups, but there are twice as many downs; so stay strong and push through.
Address: 115-3531 Bayview Street, Richmond