Mother-daughter duo behind Scottsdale bakery dish on their beginnings
March 3, 2022
When you enter Růže Cake House you are slowly taken in awe at a glass display meticulously filled with pastel, sugar confections. Jessica Rose Boutwell and Joyce Boutwell are the mother-daughter duo behind this stylish, high-end bakery. While macaroons are literally at the forefront, Růže is also known for using local ingredients to design elegant custom cakes for weddings and other celebrations.
Fittingly nestled in the Old Town Scottsdale Arts District, the bakery is a work of art itself. Rows of colorfully intricate macaroons—with unique flavors like lavender white chocolate and french fry milkshake—are a beautiful contrast to the white and green minimalism of the photo-worthy location.
While these days the team is experienced in turning a customer’s dessert vision into an edible reality, Jessica and Joyce did not always spend their days surrounded by delectable cakes. What began as a Facebook page to sell desserts to family and friends, evolved into a full-time business within one year.
Although Arizona has officially entered peak wedding season, Jessica was able to take time out of her busy schedule to chat virtually about what it’s like working so closely with her mom, her favorite wedding cake design and tips for other female bakers.
AZPBS: Tell us about yourself. We read on the website that Ruze Cake House is a mother/daughter collaborative effort. How did you both get into business with each other and what is your background in baking?
Jessica: My mom had always enjoyed baking for friends and family. Back in 2013—when we both had “real jobs”—she began planning her retirement and wanted some help getting a Facebook page started to sell cakes to friends and family. I helped her here and there with things, and after a while, it just sort of evolved.
We both had clear and separate strengths we brought to the table, and within a year we were leaving our real jobs to do this full time; It’s kind of hard to believe.
AZPBS: What is your favorite part about working with your mom?
Jessica: When we started the business, I’d maybe see my mom once a week—for a casual brunch or dinner. Now, we literally see each other for hours each day. And when we’re not together, we’re usually texting or talking on the phone. On nearly a daily basis, one of us comments on how lucky we are to have this kind of relationship, which I know is entirely due to our opportunity to do this with one another.
I will say, it didn’t start out that way! Wow, the first year or two we really had a difficult time. It was challenging to morph our relationship from one of mother-daughter to that of business partners. We also had to learn to take criticism from one another in a new way, which was a learning curve. I can honestly say though that now we have such great communication and I think it really pours over into our other relationships, too!
AZPBS: These days, Arizona seems to be saturated with bakeries. How does Ruze stand out from the competition?
Jessica: We really try to just keep our head down, be original, and stay in our lane. Meaning, we don’t try to hop on board with every trend if it’s not compatible with our strengths.
AZPBS: Ruze has established itself as a picture-worthy destination. How did you come up with the shop’s design aesthetic and what inspired it?
Jessica: It sounds so weird to say it out loud, but we really wanted our bakery to look like one of our wedding cakes, but without having any actual wedding cakes in the display area.
We of course do tons of weddings, but we also cater to our everyday walk-in clientele and we didn’t want to alienate them by having wedding decor throughout the shop. So, instead, we tried to inspire the same emotion when someone walks into our shop that they feel when they look at our cakes. A few adjectives to describe our cakes can be bright and fresh, and they usually have a floral and metallic component. All those things are true for the bakery!
AZPBS: Your shop creates a lot of cakes for weddings. Can you recall your favorite cake design?
Jessica: It would hands down be our very first cake design: our prickly pear cake. It’s topped with a prickly pear-themed heart topper. It looks like a cactus growing out of a cake, without having too much of a western feel to it. Back when we created it there weren’t any bridal cactus-themed cake designs. Now, this design of ours is recreated literally all over the world. It’s so fulfilling knowing one of our ideas helps make so many couples happy!
AZPBS: Baking is such a precise art. For at-home bakers experimenting with desserts, do you have an easy recipe to suggest to a newbie?
Jessica: Hmmm more so than a recipe to suggest, we have one to avoid!
We tore our hair out for years when we were working from home out of my mom’s kitchen trying to perfect macarons. We just couldn’t, for the life of us, get them right! And for my mom to bang her head against a wall like this on a recipe was not at all common.
But, despite her best efforts, she just wasn’t happy with our macarons. Until—that is—the day we fired up our commercial oven in our new bakery. Turns out, the oven has a lot to do with the success of our macarons. I’m only kidding when I say home bakers should avoid making them. But, please give yourselves grace if they don’t come out absolutely picture perfect! Ours never did until we had the commercial-grade oven.
AZPBS: As a female entrepreneur, what advice would you give to other women looking to start their own business?
Jessica: Don’t wait for everything to be absolutely perfect before taking the leap. I struggle with this on a daily basis, truly. It’s so hard to put a business out there for people to see when you feel like you still have a million things you’d like to change. Do not let that keep you from getting out of the starting gate.
If we had waited for me to feel confident in our products, marketing, branding, flavors, (etc.), my mom and I would still be working for other people at our former jobs.
I know how unsettling it can feel to put yourself out there for others to criticize before you feel entirely ready, but you just have to go or else someone is going to beat you to it.