Meet the mother-daughter duo of Scottsdale’s Ruze Cakehouse
Named Best Bakery by Phoenix New Times, Ruze Cakehouse is a Scottsdale Arts District staple offering macarons, boba teas, seasonal gifts, and a variety of other picturesque confections. Nestled under the string lights of Main Street, the bakery storefront is a cozy, Instagram-ready hangout boasting candy-colored sweet treats, lush, green plants, and natural lighting. Ruze is the home of mother-daughter duo, and co-owners, Jessica and Joyce Boutwell who partnered to open the bakery in 2016. After a tumultuous and unprecedented year, we discussed belonging to an artistic community, the obstacles faced by women in business, and what’s in store for Ruze Cakehouse in the future (hint: edibles!)
What role does your location play in your business and how do you feel connected to your community?
We love being nestled right in the heart of the Arts District in Scottsdale on Main Street! We feel so inspired being in a community of creatives, and getting to walk past their galleries on our way into the shop every morning. And there’s a kind of “magic” that one feels (or that I at least feel!) when driving down Main St. in the evening — all the beautiful lights strung above the street, and the paintings in the galleries on full display — it’s inspiring!
What have you learned about one another and how has your relationship evolved since entering into a business partnership?
My mom is my best friend. That’s not an exaggeration! But to be completely honest, when we started the bakery, the two of us had real difficulties communicating and working with one another easily. We quickly learned that our mother/daughter relationship needed to morph into a partner/partner relationship whenever we had our “business hats” on. We both had pretty thin skin when the other would make a suggestion or provide constructive criticism. But then, we learned to accept that feedback the way we would from any other colleague in any other jobs we’ve had, and that really helped turn things around!
What obstacles, if any, have you encountered as a woman-owned business?
We’re so proud to be a woman-owned business! We haven’t knowingly encountered too many obstacles, although I do remember how hard it was to find a landlord to sign a lease with us when we were looking for a retail location. Even though we had strong financials and money in the bank, and a successful home-bakery business, we were turned down left and right.
One potential landlord even compared our business to the coffee cart “business” he had in high school…and he felt that since he wasn’t able to be successful doing that, he didn’t think we would be successful in our own business. I thought I was on the Truman Show when he said that! It was so surreal. But, those situations always motivate us to push forward even harder! The very next day after that meeting, we found our current location, with a landlord who signed with us based on our merits, as opposed to any preconceived ideas.
The past year has been incredibly tumultuous. How has COVID-19 impacted your business and approach?
Like many businesses, the pandemic had a profound impact on us. This time last year we were in the process of laying off 11 of our 12 employees. It was gut wrenching not knowing what would happen after that. But, here we are! Our business looks very different today than it did 12 months ago, and that’s okay. We’ve had to do a lot of pivoting over the course of the last year, which we saw as an opportunity instead of a burden. In fact, the pandemic helped guide us down the current path we’re on, which is exploring our role in the cannabis industry!
Looking to the future, what do you have in the works for Ruze moving forward?
Edibles!!! We can’t wait to continue partnering with companies like Timeless to see what kind of opportunities exist for us in the cannabis space!