As quickly as you stroll into Chicago’s Jennivee’s Bakery, a rainbow of colours greets you — from Purple Velvet desserts to orange-yellow mango cream cupcakes to M&M cookies.
Jenne Vailoces, the bakery’s transgender Filipina founder, opened Jennivee’s 5 years in the past within the metropolis’s Northhalsted neighborhood, residence to a vibrant LGBTQ+ group. Since its founding in 2016, the bakery has served its colourful desserts and cookies to 1000’s of LGBTQ+ prospects, creating greater than 20 jobs for these in Chicago’s queer group.
The truth is, if it hadn’t been for the queer group, Vailoces would possibly by no means have grow to be an entrepreneur in any respect. “I’ve at all times had a imaginative and prescient for a bakery that really represents the LGBTQ+ group,” Vailoces says. “It is my method of supporting them.”
Having immigrated from the Philippines greater than 10 years in the past, Vailoces initially labored as a bodily therapist, with plans to develop her profession in the healthcare trade. Nonetheless, after studying reviews of bakeries denying wedding ceremony desserts to LGBTQ+ , Vailoces revisited her lifelong love for baking. She scraped collectively most of her financial savings, in addition to investments from her mother and shut buddies, to be able to open Jennivee’s Bakery with the goal of bringing a Filipino twist to classic cupcakes and desserts.
“Jennivee’s not solely donates her pastries to the group for fundraisers and completely different causes, however she additionally exhibits that Filipinos may be self-taught and gifted pastry cooks, creatives, and entrepreneurs,” says Lakhi Siap, founder of selling company Chicago Asian Community. “The bakery has at all times been a spot for the LGBTQ+, Chicago, Filipino, and Asian-American communities to return collectively, really feel represented, and construct bridges.”
In 2019, Jennivee’s Bakery participated in Chicago’s first Filipino Restaurant Week and in early June, Jennivee’s Bakery partnered with Filipino-owned espresso store Brew Lounge for its first pop-up sale in Des Plaines, Illinois.
“Once I hear about LGBTQ+ or Filipino-owned companies in Boystown or close by, I attempt to meet and collaborate with them, as a result of I need to be as lively as I can in these areas,” Vailoces says. “When individuals see your group as real, it goes a great distance.”
For Jennivee’s Bakery, supporting marginalized communities has been greater than moral enterprise; it is been good enterprise. The bakery’s Instagram web page, which reads “Proudly LGBTQ owned,” boasts virtually 10,000 followers. On DoorDash and GrubHub, Jennivee’s Bakery has averaged virtually 800 five-star evaluations; it was additionally voted “Greatest Dessert in Chicago” by app customers. Native momentum led to an look in 2018 on Netflix’s Sugar Rush, a cooking present the place groups of bakers race to make sweets.
Vailoces says that with no formal enterprise background, the bakery’s beginnings have been fraught with mis budgeting, overspending, and layoffs. Nonetheless, word-of-mouth carried the enterprise by way of its rising pains. “Particularly throughout the pandemic, individuals needed to assist us out as a lot as they may,” she says. Gross sales on the Northhalsted neighborhood staple grew over 20 % throughout the pandemic, bringing the enterprise’ projected income for 2021 to $1 million.
Immediately, Jennivee’s hottest taste is the Purple Velvet — a a lot lighter tackle the usually dense pink velvet that pulls from the standard Filipino ube cake, created from mashed purple yam. Just lately, the bakery has begun delivering bigger volumes of desserts and cupcakes for weddings and Chicago resort venues, corresponding to The London Home. Vailoces plans to increase the bakery’s wholesale enterprise to produce desserts to eating places, resorts, and cafés throughout the town. She’d additionally wish to open a second location with an even bigger kitchen to be able to do extra high-volume manufacturing.
“Chicago is such a various culinary vacation spot,” Vailoces says. “I hope that my enterprise will be capable of proceed to add to and showcase that by way of its illustration of the LGBTQ+ group, and Filipino-style pastries and desserts.”