Claire Thomas & Laurel Gallucci
Friends-turned-business partners Claire Thomas and Laurel Gallucci are the duo behind whole foods focused baking company, Sweet Laurel Bakery. With their delectable desserts made sans grains, refined sugar and dairy, they've made a name for themselves in LA by giving us healthier options for indulging our sweet tooth. We tapped Thomas and Gallucci this month to be our latest Sunday Girls to learn more about how they got started in the baking business and where they go to for daily inspiration. Read on to get to know these stylish foodies and shop their Joie picks below!
Describe your typical Sunday.
C: Sunday is my favorite day of the week. My husband and I sleep in a bit and then walk down to our favorite coffee shop to read. If we’re feeling ambitious, we’ll head to the farmer’s market too. Otherwise, I’ll usually use Sunday as my catch up day to go through my emails and meet up with my family for an early dinner.
L: For me, Sundays are a day of rest, so I like to begin by leisurely making breakfast for my husband followed by church and the Farmer’s Market as well! We stock up on produce and fish for our Sunday supper. A nap at the beach is somewhere in there too!
So tell us a bit about the beginnings of Sweet Laurel. Was there a clear turning point when you knew it was time to turn baking into a full-blown business?
L: When I removed grains, refined sugar, and dairy from my diet, the way I baked also changed. Family and friends were my natural test kitchen, and I started to create delectable treats without typical flour and sugar. One day, I brought one of my chocolate cakes over to Claire’s house and she was like, WOW. The rest is history!
What were some of the biggest risks you each took to get to where you are now in your careers?
C: My step into food and lifestyle as a career was a few years ago, when I quit my job in entertainment to become a food stylist. For both of us, we’re blessed with very supportive families, so making that leap was filled with encouragement.
L: Like Claire, I was also involved in a different industry. For me, stepping away from my role as an academic educator and pursuing the bakery fulltime was a risk. The joy I get from teaching still shines through however, and we get to teach people how to make wholesome treats through our classes and workshops.
C: Luckily, I technically still work in entertainment, just with a food bend, directing commercials, pitching show ideas, doing the YouTube thing – it’s just all through my food and lifestyle lens.
Much of your day-to-day work revolves around food. How does what you thought you would be doing 10 years ago differ from where you are now?
C: If you told me what I did now to me 10 years ago, I would’ve been so confused, and asked you to check your dossier, time traveler. In college I studied politics and history, and envisioned a career in movie development. I’ve always had a love of food, history, aesthetics, and visual media and never would have thought that they would collide this way!
L: I never thought I would wash so many dishes in my life!
As bakers and businesswomen, you create amazing and mouthwatering visual stories through your brand. Where do you look to for daily inspiration?
C: From the outset, modern, simple and feminine was our vision - never fussy or girly - using just fresh fruit or flowers to decorate.
L: I love anything naturally beautiful. I draw a lot of inspiration from simplistic beauty.
C: For me, the flower market is a constant source of inspiration. Color, texture, emotion - they’re also just so pretty to look at. With our cakes and baked goods, we wanted the same effect.
Do you each have a signature dish that is always a guaranteed hit with friends and family?
C: We both love the Chocolate Caramel Cake! That cake is a guaranteed hit, every time.
L: And if there was a runner up, definitely the Blueberry Muffin Bread.
Obviously you have the sweet treats down pat. If you want to indulge in something more savory, where are your favorite spots to go in LA?
C: Laurel and I grew up blocks away from The Brentwood Country Mart, so I have to give Reddi Chick - the rotisserie chicken spot - a call out. Otherwise, I now live a few minutes from Thai Town, and good luck getting that panning out of my hands.
L: I would add Farm Shop and Belcampo to the list. My husband and I love them. I can trust they source from amazing local and organic farms.
Do you find that your personal style finds its way into your work life?
C: The feminine modern aesthetic very much comes from our taste in fashion and finds its way into our products and design. I created the graphic design look of Sweet Laurel, and wanted to keep it fresh and simple, with a tiny pop of romance from the flowers.
L: I agree. I’ve always loved things natural and untainted. We’ve translated this into our bakery, which was founded on wholesome ingredients minus the fillers and additives.
Do you have a must-visit travel destination for foodies?
C: I’m going to sound so basic, but Paris, always Paris. If not Paris, then Mexico City – one of the most vibrant, delicious, and underappreciated travel destinations I’ve been to.
L: I like any place where I can find a little restaurant that uses local farms and produce!
What's next on the docket for Sweet Laurel?
L: Our cookbook!
C: Yes, we’re keeping our fingers crossed! We’re also focused on expanding our line of pantry items and adding more workshops to our schedule. It’s getting pretty busy!
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