Fluff Cups founder Tess Levin is a professionally trained pastry chef based in the Los Angeles area. In May 2018 she embarked on her pursuit of a Master of the Pastry Arts, and she has been featured in several baking blogs and VoyageLA.
At Fluff Cups, Tess Levin runs a gourmet dessert company serving customers in the SoCal area. As a professionally trained chef, she also found time to learn food photography. She has diversified her brand within the LA community, which began from passion for French pastry. Now, she has built a career in “photography, social advertising, and recipe creations for brands across the nation.”
In just one year, Tess Levin took Fluff Cups from a simple Instagram account into a thriving business. She began by working through her passion for “baking mouthwatering (and aesthetically pleasing) desserts.” Her love for what she does has helped her build a successful brand and attract a “loyal and engaged audience.”
Tess Levin began Fluff Cups from her apartment, after finally deciding to go through with her passion to bake. Every night, she would come home to bake “dozens of cupcakes, cookies or cakes.” After some persuasion from her roommate, and after she had transformed their kitchen into a bakery,” Tess Levin launched Fluff Cups Specialty Desserts on Instagram.
However, this taught me that you need to persevere no matter how many times you get “no” because it only takes one person to say “yes”. Tess Levin, Fluff Cups
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
Tess Levin: I’ve been baking since I can remember and in high school I started selling my creations to local independent coffee shops around Arizona. After graduating, I moved to L.A. to attend University of Southern California to study Marketing and Psychology and ended up A BAKER! I started seriously baking in May 2018 and received my Master of Baking in November 2018. I began to pursue owning a dessert company once I graduated college and found I wasn’t feeling fulfilled from a traditional 9–5 job. I started Fluff Cups Specialty Desserts from my small Los Angeles apartment and still bake from there today! I created my company on Instagram on May 20, 2018 and have grown it to 22k+ followers in just 2 years. I have been able to provide gourmet desserts to some of my favorite actors, musicians, and companies.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company? What lessons or takeaways idd you take out of that story?
Tess Levin: The most interesting thing I have done is provide baked goods for a few well known musicians. It wasn’t a traditional customer order. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is how to go after what I want and utilize newer tools for business owners like growing a reputable social media following. I ended up DM’ing a few musicians on Instagram selling my services and hoping they would see my message and be interested in a young company and my product. Luckily, they did! I had reached out to numerous musicians, actors, and producers and was rejected 9/10 times. However, this taught me that you need to persevere no matter how many times you get “no” because it only takes one person to say “yes”.
Jerome Knyszewski: Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?
Tess Levin: Inkheart by Cornelia Funke! I remember reading it at a very young age and being transported into the world Cornelia Funke created. It was the first time that I experienced that and it opened my eyes to creating a new reality for yourself; a world that is your own!
Owning Fluff Cups has made me confident in my decisions and trust myself more!
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share 5 of the most difficult and most rewarding parts of being a “TwentySomething founder”. Please share an example or story for each.
- Self-Made — when I received my first large, corporate order for Fluff Cups, I was petrified. I fixated on every detail of the process. Once the delivery and party was complete, I received the positive customer review and compensation. I was over the moon. When it is your own company you feel pride when you get good reviews. You attribute it to YOUR hard work and you take it very personal which is rewarding because YOU did it yourself.
- Progress — one of the most rewarding parts of owning my own company is seeing the progress I’ve made. Not only my skills but also the amount of orders and success my business continues to have is far beyond what I did when I first started Fluff Cups.
- Faith in Myself — the one thing, maybe the ultimate reward of owning my own business is having faith in myself. I am responsible for whether my company is successful or if it fails. Owning Fluff Cups has made me confident in my decisions and trust myself more!
- Rejection — I don’t even have stories about rejection because, 9/10 times I try something, I am rejected, WHICH IS NORMAL! If I reach out to 50 celebrities and influencers to inquire about collaborations or partnerships, maybe one will respond, sometimes no one will respond. During these times, it is important to remember to persevere, keep trying, remember your goal, and know it only takes one person to say yes.
- Finances — starting your own business in your 20’s can be extremely difficult if you don’t have a security blanket of savings, which in your 20’s, most of us do not. I believe going into this venture knowing that money will be tight will set expectations. You absolutely do not want to go in thinking that you will make millions within months because reality will hit you in the face.
3. Slow growth — it is hard to be patient with myself and my business. In the digital world we live in, we see “overnight” success that is NEVER true. “Overnight success” that was 10 years in the making. I have many baking friends who have grown their business extremely fast and I find myself comparing myself frequently to them. Why didn’t I grow as fast? Why am I not more like them? The answer is I am on my own journey and the slow growth is hard, but my persistence will get me to where I want to be.
You absolutely do not want to go in thinking that you will make millions within months because reality will hit you in the face. Tess Levin
Jerome Knyszewski: We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
Tess Levin: Wow, honestly. Christina Tosi is my role model. I watched her Chef’s Table at least 4 times. She is so talented and brings such a positivity to her surroundings. Her life story resonated with me before starting Fluff Cups and I respect her worth ethic tremendously. She built an empire with love, positivity, and baking!
Jerome Knyszewski: What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Tess Levin: I would love to see all of you on my instagram! Please follow me here.
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!