Cara Jorgensen had always been a restless child. When she was younger, her boundless energy would get her into trouble—be it at school or at home— but in her mind, she was just constantly looking toward her next adventure. At 22 years old, that next adventure came in the form of a new business: Gâteau—the French word for “cake.”
Using the same energy that once exasperated her teachers, Jorgensen took what was once a hobby and dove headfirst into the pastry world, teaching herself new techniques and learning the ins and outs of business as she went.
Now 24, Jorgensen and the Gâteau Baking Company have found a home in Charlotte’s 7th Street Market. Blending the elegance of high-end designs with bright colors and flavors, the bakery already has a unique, signature style. Jorgensen’s cookie-inspired cupcakes, donut glazes, and custom cakes have all become local favorites. Still, if there’s one thing the bakery refuses to do, it’s stop the innovation.
“The fun part of being so small and new,” says Jorgensen, “is that we can still experiment and customers don’t get mad that the items they’ve loved for years and years are different. We’re so young that our clients are really awesome about letting us grow into bigger and better products.”
Jorgensen focuses on supplying vegan options and sourcing local ingredients from the very neighbors that stop in to buy her pastries and on giving back to the community that supports her. Since 2015, the Gâteau Baking Company has donated over $10,000 to local non-profits. Employees are encouraged to volunteer with paid time-off to do so, and Jorgensen herself puts in six to ten hours of volunteer work per week.
I firmly believe that if you pour into your community, your community will be there to pour back into you,” states Jorgensen. “Without support from people in Charlotte, we wouldn’t be able to sustain. So why shouldn’t we help sustain Charlotte?
Stop by to taste their Triple Cocoa and Unbirthday cupcakes, or pick up a batch of Lemon Almond Sugar cookies to go along with a seasonal pie. With future plans to expand into new locations, Jorgensen and the Gâteau Baking Company can count on Charlotte’s support for years to come.
Since this piece published, Gateau has changed its operations. Please visit gateaubaking.co for Cara’s updates.