Frenie Jean-Baptiste fondly remembers inhaling the smell of rum syrup simmering on her grandmother’s stove before pouring the sticky sauce on a boldly flavoured rum cake they would bake together. Her grandmother always let her taste everything as it cooked – it’s what made her fall in love with the art of baking.
Jean-Baptiste comes from a Haitian family, where cakes and baked goods were always part of any celebration. “I was a child when I fell in love with baking. My grandmother taught me all the basics and I have the most beautiful memories of her,” Jean-Baptiste says.
When her grandmother passed away in 2015, Jean-Baptiste decided to honour her memory through Bayard Gateaux to continue her legacy. Alongside the wonderful memories, Jean-Baptiste says, “she left me her kitchen mixer,” which she used to replicate her grandmother’s childhood recipes.
“When I first started, before launching my spirits cakes, I made a lot of personalized cakes and that’s how I developed my artistic side and worked with buttercream, flowers and other decorating elements,” she says. “But I prefer decorations to be simple – as for flavours, I’ve always loved to create. I love combining and testing flavours from here and elsewhere.”
Despite having incredible products and an entourage that was very supportive, getting the business to take off required a lot of effort. “The biggest challenge was to make myself known. It took a lot of collaboration, sponsorships, participation in trade shows and a constant presence on social media.”
Looking back at her startup experience, she emphasizes the importance of surrounding yourself with experts: “From the very beginning, find people you can go to – especially for the financial stuff. Do not be afraid to go to people. In my early days I contacted event organizers and experienced pastry chefs, and everyone was happy to talk to me and give me advice.”
Her efforts did eventually pay off, and Jean-Baptiste decided it was time to expand. “At the end of 2019, I decided to make a big investment and launch a brand-new range of cakes. I wanted to market rum cakes, soaked in rum syrup without frosting and vacuum-sealed. I needed big machines, several moulds and a production space.”
That growth required a lot of support, and while financing helped her get started, it was the mentorship that she deeply valued: “Thanks to Futurpreneur, I was able not only to get financing to realize this project, but also have a mentor accompany me at the beginning.”
The support she received has helped her realize the importance of mentorship and surrounding yourself with people that are supportive and can help guide you through your journey. Similarly, the experience she’s gained helps her support others experiencing similar challenges.
Since COVID-19 began, Jean-Baptiste has been strictly offering socially distanced local deliveries. She hopes to expand to all of Canada in the future.
If you are craving something sweet, find her cakes online at bayardgateaux.com.