Pasticceria da motorini
“Jobless recovery” is a term you hear a lot these days. Of course, some would argue there is no recovery.
In today’s tepid economy, you might have better luck making your own job. Ask Heather Wong, aka The Scootabaker.
Ms. Wong’s treats are the toast (or maybe I should say, the cupcake) of L.A. at the moment, and her story reads like a Hollywood movie script from the 1940s:
Scootin’ Old Skool: What were you doing before you started Scootabaker?
Heather Wong: I was studying Anthropology and Global Studies at UCLA, and scooting between school and my part-time gig as a baker at a Studio City bake shop.
OS: How did you come up with the idea of delivering baked goodies on a scooter?
HW: Because my main mode of transport was my scooter, and I was the “baker” of my group of friends, I would close my emails with “Love, the Scootin Baker”. And my brilliant boyfriend, Michael, started calling me “Scootabaker”, of course a spinoff of “Studebaker” (Old-time car company, in case you didn’t know. —Ed.), but an appropriate usage because I was exactly that—a baker on a scooter. It was only natural that I deliver my homemade desserts to friends on my scooter; how else would I get around town but by scoot? While working at the bake shop, I started a blog to document my adventures with baking, which I titled “The Scootabaker”.
Shortly after, I developed a loyal following, and the word about my baking spread. People began asking if they could buy desserts from me. Really, from that point on I was getting offers from all directions to do regular deliveries and cater big L.A. events. The Scootabaker continues to blossom so organically. I’m lucky that people seek me out and I’ve had to do very little to promote my business.
OS: What have been the challenges, for your business and for riding in L.A. (I’ve been there, I know what the traffic is like!)
HW: I am extremely lucky to say that there have been almost no challenges for my business here in L.A. It’s as if the city was just waiting for something like this to pop up. The city’s foodie population is growing and people are eagerly awaiting he next chef who will inspire their tastebuds. A girl who delivers gourmet quality desserts to your door by scooter is a huge incentive for people to order from me. Not only are they getting an amazing product, they’re simultaneously avoiding the death trap which is L.A. traffic.
Now, that of course puts me in the position to battle traffic to make my deliveries, but L.A. is becoming more and more familiar with 2-wheeled vehicles and bicycles sharing the road, so zipping around town on the scooter is much quicker than by any other mode. Though riding on two wheels is not without its threats. My biggest fear is being involved in an accident while I’m trying to make my delivery. I can just picture it—beautiful cupcakes dead all over the road! 😦
OS: What plans do you have for the future? Do you hope to expand the business outside of L.A.? Franchise it?
Right now I’m just working on spreading the Scootabaker love around L.A. I have clients I deliver to regularly, and I’m expanding to supply local markets and cafes with my desserts. I’ve worked with a food truck recently and found success with that, so maybe I’ll continue working with other L.A. Gourmet Food Trucks. There are so many untapped resources here in L.A. that could definitely benefit from a little Scootabaker dessert love! For now, L.A. will remain home base for Scootabaker. And soon enough, the scooter fleet will grow too!
OS: You’ve said you love vintage scooters, but you do your deliveries on a Vespa LX, right? Talk about that, especially why you don’t use a Lambretta like in the logo.
I use a 2007 Vespa LX 150 with spring-loaded racks to make my dessert deliveries, simply because it’s a smoother, more reliable vehicle to transport delicate goods. I’ve been in a situation where I made a delivery, stalled out, and consequently was very late for the next delivery. It’s for my own peace of mind that I use a newer scooter since I’m not the most mechanically inclined chick. Though it should run in my blood—my father was all about vintage scooters and aircraft!
I love the Lambretta scooter and Lambretta font, and though I don’t use one specifically for deliveries, it’s still part of the Scootabaker’s culture, which of course is the Scooter Culture. The Scootabaker doesn’t discriminate against scooters!
Actually, a scooter is a perfectly logical mount for a courier or delivery person. In the Philippines, Yellow Cab Pizza famously employs what appear to be LML Stars to make deliveries in Metro Manila, and TGB sells a scooter (right) with a built-in insulated box, which is a favorite of curry shops in the U.K.
It may well be businesses widely adopting scooters and other smaller vehicles before the general public does, simply because businesses are familiar with terms like CPM and ROI.