If you have a sweet tooth like we do, you will love Joe Boy’s Bakery! Ever had Swedish desserts? We’re talking Fika Buns (pronounced ‘Fee-ka’) and more! The Fika buns come in 7 flavors: Donut, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Ube, Pistachio, Almond and Black Sesame Pandan. Additionally caramel popcorn, chocolate chip cookies and pandan + coconut toast are items you can also enjoy!
Meet Joe, the guy behind the sweet treats that have been filling people’s Instagram feed (and tummies) recently. As my wife and I are on our own journey to open up a dessert shop, people kept telling me about Joe and his Fika buns. I knew I HAD to have one or two…boxes. It just so happens that Joe was the son of a family friend! Sacramento is a big county, but such a small world.
This interview will focus primarily on the entrepreneurial aspect of Joe’s life and his story behind it all. The first time I met Joe was with my Father-In-Law Jeff, who owns River City Rickshaw (say hello if you see our pedicabs downtown!). We met over lattes at The Mill to meet + greet, right before his interview with City Scout Magazine. Joe then got around to tell me his story and it was awesome! Check out the interview below:
Tell us your story of [Joe] Boy’s Bakery.
Joe It started back when I was 17. Johanna and I first started dating, she was a barista and I was a baker. At that time she had been in America for about 3 years and she was set on going back home to Sweden. We just started dating and I was not ready to go to Sweden. I was still in high school, I had plans for culinary school. I thought…how can I get her to want to be in California?
“Well, I’ll figure out a way to bring Sweden to California. I knew how to bake, so I’ll bake some Swedish things for her.”
She couldn’t find anything like that in Sacramento and I thought it would be cool to have something like that here closer to home. I started googling “Swedish Pastries” because I had no idea what it was or where to even begin with it. I did find this little almond tart called Mazariner – it was a childhood favorite of most Swedes. So I took a shot with it and made them! I wasn’t sure if they were good or not so I made chocolate chip cookies as my fallback plan – that’s why I bake chocolate cookies now today.
“She was beyond excited, she hasn’t eaten one in 3 years or so! She appreciated me going out and learning + baking this pastry for her.”
That’s when I first started baking with Swedish stuff. But I was getting ready for Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley. As soon as January came, I moved out to Napa and Johanna stayed in Sacramento. We continued dating while I continued learning more about Swedish culture + food – the interest kept growing. I did 2 years of culinary school, after 2 years of the 4 year program I dropped out. I wasn’t so sure it was something I wanted to do. So I went to a traditional university and got my undergraduate degree in Anthropology and I was still able to satisfy that interest that I had in food and hospitality by staying in the industry to support myself. Johanna and I moved out to Sweden twice, once to visit family for a year and the second time we moved out for grad school.
“That’s when I learned authentic Swedish food and baking. I got to see it everyday and learn from professionals.”
We moved back to California in 2015 after my son was born. This is when I got my first office job. I loved this job because it’s providing for my family, but this can’t be everything. I need to get my hands back in some dough or cooking. I missed it so much. 3 years after working in the office, that’s Boy’s Bakery today – it’s touching on the passion that I didn’t want to lay dormant. I really got the push from Johanna when I applied for a baking position at a really cool bake shop, got to the point of figuring out the schedule. But ultimately, Johanna and I thought it probably wasn’t a good time for this – I turned it down.
“I went through a micro depression for about 2 weeks. Totally bummed out that I passed up a really good offer. But more importantly, the reason I gave it up was for my family. It’s really important, but I don’t regret it. Johanna said I had this idea for so many years. So I just got the ball rolling.”
What was your most challenging moment for the business? Your most significant? What did you learn from that?
Joe In the 3 months I have been doing this, the most challenging experience would’ve been last weekend with the pop up. I was able to fulfill all orders, do the pop up and meet customers. But there were multiple times where I felt I bit off more than I can chew. And in that moment with everything, there was no time to think about maybe I shouldn’t do this. I had a commitment to the people, they were coming with money you just have to figure it out. I had to overcome that voice inside my head, it’s constantly there. What I learned is that being creative and thinking on your feet you can do anything. Waking up at 2:30 AM in the morning and having the orders be out in a few hours – I learned about flexibility, I had more than I expected.
Was there anything really significant in your journey?
Joe The first Instagram blog meet up I had in Sacramento. It was such a cool experience, it was my first experience into the Instagram community here in Sacramento – it was tremendously helpful to Boy’s Bakery. From that, it really propelled the brand, exposing me to a lot of different people. It was a nice experience to get to know these people I have been following for a few months and actually meeting them. I really liked sharing my product with them because I see them eating all over town, but really cool because now they’re eating my stuff now! It’ something I’ll never forget.
In regards to friends and family, is there anyone you would like to mention?
Joe I can’t talk about Boy’s Bakery without talking about Johanna. The whole concept and reason why I am doing what I am doing is because of her. It was always a reason to bring a piece of Sweden to California. I hear people saying and learning about Swedish words they would have never heard of due to Boy’s Bakery. I loved that! We can go on to social media in Sacramento and talk about fika buns. Also, my immediate family – they give the most honest feedback to ideas and products that I would not get anywhere else. I value it.
If you could go back to your teenage self, what advice would you offer?
Joe Not to go to culinary school (laughs). The program I was in, the first 2 years were in Napa Valley and the last 2 would be in New York to complete it. In that 4 years, there abut 6 weeks that deals with baking and pastries and that is my passion. Traditional cooking in the kitchen cooking savory food is not my thing. I should’ve gone the route to get my baking and pastry certificate.
What is something you know you know you need to work on and how do you go about it?
Joe I would say networking. I have been putting myself out there more, more than I have ever done in my life. I now take more initiative to introduce myself, talk to more people – that’s something I typically wouldn’t do. But because I am so passionate about this food, it makes it easier to do that. But there is still areas to grow in. For example, I met with someone yesterday to discuss ideas and how we can partner up. Two other people came in the room who definitely would’ve been great connections…but for the first 5 minutes I was silent.
Are there any missed opportunities you wished you would of leveraged?
Joe Yes, possibly making more connections with cooks and bakers in the industry. While I have connections with the front of the house staff, I got to know them on a friendly level but never had a chance to express to them to say I always loved doing this…but I need to develop the current relationships to this degree. Right now, it’s more of a friendly relationship.
What type of sacrifices should entrepreneurs be aware of?
Joe The flexibility (speaking to my circumstances) – making time for work and time to do things with your family. When you have multiple orders out, you will not have the time to just hop in the car and do something. You have people waiting for you. You are managing this creature – this thing where you need to keep it alive. You can’t just put the business on pause and go out with the guys. So you lose some flexibility.
Phone: (916) 869-0791
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Hours of operation:
Requests as of now, please contact him via DM on Instagram or phone call