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How Lara Adekoya’s Pandemic Hobby Bloomed Into A Brick-And-Mortar Bakery In A Historically Black LA Neighborhood

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What started as a hobby during the pandemic quickly launched Lara Adekoya into entrepreneurship, selling cookies to consumers in Los Angeles, CA, including some of Hollywood’s hottest stars, including Issa Rae, Lena Waithe and others.

Today, Adekoya is taking things one step further by launching her very first brick-and-mortar for Fleurs et Sel.

“I’m really happy and I’m just ready,” Adekoya told AFROTECH™. “I feel like I’ve been ready to make this jump or transition for a while. As you know, it’s not something that’s happened overnight.”

In a previous interview with Adekoya,  AFROTECH™ learned the backstory to how she launched her business, which has grown rapidly over roughly four years.

Fast-forward to the present day, she says there wasn’t a specific incident that encouraged her to open a bakery, but it will be in a historically Black and brown neighborhood in Los Angeles.

“I’m opening in West Adams, which is a historically Black and brown neighborhood in LA that has been gentrified, or is being gentrified, which you know everyone has their opinions about gentrification, good and bad,” she explained. “I’m just very excited to be opening in a neighborhood that I’m passionate about, hopefully serving the community and Los Angeles community on a greater level.”

Adekoya added, “I’m excited to bring an elevated business and be a woman-of-color business owner, and have something of my own to share with other people. Location-wise, I also went to the University of Southern California (USC), so when I first got to USC, like literally Freshman Welcome Week with my mom, we Googled the nearest Target and it was on Adams, which is the street I’m opening up on. So, it’s kind of serendipitous that I get to open on Adams, which is a neighborhood that I’m familiar with and so close to USC. It feels like the perfect spot.”

What’s more, Adekoya says she learned what it means to get creative with limited resources while building a business from the ground up. It’s helped her to take Fleurs et Sel to higher heights.

Photo Credit: Pauline Chatelan

“Having started my business during the pandemic I learned what it’s like to bootstrap,” she recalled. “I got my packaging at Smart and Final. I made homemade stickers until I could afford real stickers. So, I feel like I just grew in a smart way and was very aware of my finances. I didn’t splurge on expensive and unnecessary things — even from an ingredient perspective.

“I was like, what can I use in my cookies that I can get readily that is not super expensive, but tastes good? So from the onset, I set myself up for success in certain ways that allowed me to be very money-conscious,” Adekoya continued. “In terms of revenue, it’s interesting, because there are several bakeries in LA, specifically ones that have closed down. One is called Sweet Lady Jane. They are like a staple. Thirty-five years of business, celebrity favorite, and they made cakes. I don’t really know the details, but they closed for business, and I think they were supposed to open two new locations yesterday, right, and they’re closed.”

With businesses that would be considered competitors closing left and right, Adekoya says the burning question has been why she should open one, but her counter is “why not?”

“I think all of these learnings, revenue aside, have just pushed me to be really smart with my spending because I feel like it’s not even about how much you make, but how much you spend and how you control what goes out,” she said.

“That’s what I’ve seen in terms of revenue. It was consistent in 2021, 2022, and 2023, but I did see a little dip in the corporate orders in 2023, so less Netflix, less HBO, less Amazon, less cookies for movie premieres and stuff like I was getting the previous years.” 

On the flip side, Adekoya says thanks to support from consistent daily customers, losing those big orders did not have as much of an effect on the business.  

Despite the high bar for baked goods and an influx of other bakeries in the market, Adekoya is confident that she has what it takes to continue taking her business to the top.

“When someone walks into my bakery, I want them to know that it’s more than just a cookie shop. It’s a beautiful space that I hope empowers them to follow their own dreams,” she said. “There’s marble. There are pink walls. There are arches… It’s an elevated space, and I just wanted to inspire other people to know that beyond the cookies and beyond the bakery, if you have a vision and desire to bring something into fruition you can totally do it because I am living proof.”

Fleurs et Sel is set to open its doors at 12 p.m. (PST) on Saturday, March 23, 2024, at 5300 W Adams Blvd Suite 100, Los Angeles CA 90016.





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