I met Alexa a few years ago when we worked in the restaurant industry together. She always struck me as a mature and ambitious woman. So, when I heard she was starting her own business, I reached out to her about doing a feature.
Since then, I have seen her work shared by happy clients all over Instagram. Her floral designs have even been featured on CTV Morning Live in a local love segment.
Here is my interview as we chat about her childhood, her passions, her new business and more.
Batter & Blooms | Ottawa ON
I read an article about your family in Edible Ottawa – you seem to have come from a family who has always embraced cultural traditions. Is that where your passion for baking stems from?
Aw yes! I am so happy you stumbled across that, what a great way to start! That would be my Nonno (grandpa), with his famous tomato sauce tradition!
He has been passing down this tradition for years. It got a lot of attention because so many people would walk, bike or drive by and stop in complete awe of the pristine operation my Nonno put on! For the love of pasta, am I right? Naturally, Edible Ottawa wanted to do an article! So fun!
You are absolutely correct, embracing our roots through tradition and food has been something I have grown up around. My Grandparents, Parents, Zia’s and Zio’s (aunt and uncles) always put their heart in whatever they prepare for our family.
There is something to be said about putting your busy life on pause to gather around a table to laugh, catch up and eat – and let me tell you we are very good at the eating part! I don’t know how, but without fail, we always find a way to make one small gathering a need for lots of food and dessert (but hey I can’t complain, I feel blessed!) and who doesn’t love left overs?
To answer your question, I think it’s inevitable that baking and I get along so well. I love having the ability to make someone smile and feel good about indulging in something sweet. I think it’s important to treat yourself! When customers tell me they enjoyed their cake or cupcakes it fills me up with bliss and now I understand why my Mom, Nonna or Zias always enjoyed cooking and baking. It’s simply good for the soul.
What are some of the favorite food memories and dishes from your childhood?
That’s an easy one. GNOCCHI, MEATBALLS, SALAMI and ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP! I picture myself shouting this from the rooftops!
I think why these meals cling so much to me is because they have a story!
Let’s start with gnocchi.
Ever since my sister and I were little girls getting babysat by our Nonna and Nonno (my Mother’s parents) was the BEST, especially when we knew we would help them make homemade pasta! My sister and I would play with all the left over dough and help spin out the spaghetti, and before we knew it, the basement was covered with table cloths and had homemade pasta laying over it. My sister and I used to always sneak in the cantina (with my Nonno very much aware we were doing this but still letting us feel ‘sneaky’) and we would eat the raw dough after its been dried (kind of like eating an uncooked piece of spaghetti only it being softer and not nearly as crunchy). I feel this is an ‘if you know, you know‘ situation because it’s one of those things that if you’ve never tried it you would probably think it’s super strange – BUT it’s so good! Inevitably after every pasta making day we would end it off with a plate of gnocchi, and gosh it’s the best pasta I’ve ever eaten!
Every time we called my Nonno and told him we’re coming over for dinner, he would say “For dinner I’m making a surprise.” My sister and I would look at each other and ask “Are we having Gnocchi?” and my Nonno would giggle every time. This tradition of pasta making was always done as a couple by both my Nonna and Nonno, since my Nonna passed my Nonno doesn’t make pasta anymore, but it will always be a memory I hold closest to me.
Now onto the meatballs and salami made by my Dad’s mother (Nonna) and father (Nonno).
My Nonna’s meatballs are famous and her best kept secret. They are the best meatballs I’ll ever have. She fries them and loads them with fresh parsley. When my Nonna makes them on our Thursday night family gatherings (before Covid) our cousin group chat always reads “guys, Nonna is making meat balls and Nonno is cutting the salami” (that he makes homemade), so when you get that text you want to make sure you are at Nonna’s early! They both prepare a large amount, and without fail by the end of the night, they are both gone!
My mother’s wedding soup, is a famous soup in my family!
The recipe was passed down from my Nonna, and is now the opening meal to every family holiday! It has mini pasta noodle’s (which we call ‘Pastina’), mini meatballs, carrots, celery, and parmesan cheese. I love when she makes it because it requires a process of making a bunch of mini meatballs and nonetheless, my sister and I are her sidekicks!
I wish that I could mail out a tasting plate to every person who reads this, just so you know what I was talking about!!
How did you get into floral design?
By a complete accident!! When I got into the floral world I was still a business student. There was a point in my life I was convinced I wanted to be an event planner. I was so fascinated by the industry! I knew I wanted to get some experience and test out my interest. One day before class, I was sitting in my car, outside my school parking lot when I said to myself I’m just going to call this local event planner and see if she will hire me (just like that, 18 year old me trying my luck).
When the owner of the company picked up, she said she wasn’t hiring, but has been in my shoes before and understood my position and wanted to help! LIKE HOW KIND!?
She said to me that she knew a local flower shop that not only did floral work but did a lot of décor set up and rentals around Ottawa. She thought it would be a great place for me to start out and get experience. I sent her my resume and she had passed it along to Wadia at Beaudry’s, who willingly brought me in for an interview. Knowing I had no experience in her area of expertise, the only evident thing was my openness and willingness to learn! She took a chance and hired me!
I was brought on as an assistant to the owner. That ranged from admin, on site decorator, social media account management, taking orders and assisting customers, buying for the shop, inventory management, and some floral work.
My mom always taught me that the best way to learn was through watching, and my dad always taught me to ask questions and never shy away from it, so I always observed and asked questions.
One day I was in the shop and just picked up a few extra stems and started practicing making bouquets and I instantly fell in love. I showed Wadia my creations and she saw the potential in me. Wadia was always willing to share her knowledge and tell me “watch me, and I will help and teach you.”
As time went on I started doing arrangements for customers, helping with the orders that came through online or over the phone. Wadia then trusted me to start leading wedding consultations and helping with the design of bridal arrangements. With that I realized my passion for floral design was bigger than becoming an event planner.
My passion for baking became bigger within those years as well. I have been experimenting and practicing with baking and cake design for the past four years. I loved that I could still be a part of the event industry but not with planning the entirety of it. In my eye, getting to add the special touch through cake and florals was the perfect combo for me.
Has your experience working as a floral design assistant prepared you for running your own business?
Absolutely! I think all of my employment history and schooling has helped me run my own business. With every job I’ve had I have learned and dealt with different situations, things and people! I always say you learn the most through interacting with others and being open to learning. With that being said every situation I get put in professionally (and in my day to day life) I believe is an opportunity and something to learn from.
I love your logo – it has a very delicate and timeless look to it. How did you come up with the name and design?
It’s a funny story. I was sleeping and at 1:30 am I woke up from my sleep and said “AH, WHAT ABOUT BATTER & BLOOMS.” I quickly hopped onto Instagram to see if the handle was taken, and there she was free as a bee! I loved the name because I knew in some way I always wanted to incorporate florals with my cakes and I think the name accurately represents both my passions and my brand.
The name is soft and elegant so when I created the logo, I wanted it to be simple to reflect the name as best as possible. I love black and white its always been my favorite aesthetic, so the colour choices were easy for me!
Tell us little about the Instagram page for Batter & Blooms.
I’ve always loved photography and clean looks to a brand. When Batter & Blooms was first getting started, the name inspired me to show case my vision of how I pictured the brand, through photography and capturing cakes in different views and elements.
I love fashion, trends and style and I wanted to showcase that with Batter & Blooms. Cakes are so fun to decorate and create that I wanted them to always have their Vogue moment!
Social media is a double edge sword. On one hand – you have access to all these free resources that expose you to a massive audience. On the other hand, people are overwhelmed with information so you are fighting to get their attention.
What have been some of the challenges you have faced – building a brand on social media.
You said it perfectly. This is tough. At the end of the day I look at my page, the supporters who follow my posts and show appreciation for it and I remain grateful for them.
It’s important to post what makes you feel good and what makes you happy. I always remain open-minded and will always welcome new faces with open arms!
My goal is to add a little sugar to someone’s day whether that be when they order from me and get to eat my creation or just enjoy the pictures I post. Remaining grateful is what keeps me motivated!
If you had to design and bake a signature cake – what flavors would it be and how would it look like?
Definitely chocolate. But when I say chocolate I mean loads of brownie chunks and chocolate chips with a rich chocolate drizzle! The look would be a tall round five tier, white and black butter cream cake with a hint of pale pink. I would add loads of texture and touches of gold. Topped with white garden roses everywhere!!!
What is your design aesthetic and where do you get your inspiration from?
This is a question I get asked a lot!
It’s the things around me, that slowly starts to spiral and create itself through feelings that bring me joy or positive vibes which lead to other ideas and experimenting. Before I know it, my heart and hands start creating!
Do you ever experiment with different flavors?
I love my classic flavours and to be more specific anything chocolate flavour has my heart! More recently I have experimented with lemon cake with a lemon curd, salted caramel, and chocolate mint. Experimenting is always fun and I am always up for the challenge!
When you work with clients, how collaborative is the creative process?
Ah, I love this question. It’s a good one!
A lot of customers either know exactly what they want, others give me the complete freedom to design which I call a “Designers choice cake!”
I always ask my customers if there is something specific they have in mind or have some inspiration. From there it’s like a snowball effect until we iron out all the details. I find after asking questions, you get a sense of their style and vibe. I always enjoy people’s energy so getting to know clients from a design perspective is always a blast.
Collaborating and working together to meet the end goal of them being happy and satisfied is why I enjoy doing what I do!
I am a strong believer that you don’t need a special occasion to eat dessert or drink Prosecco. Especially in 2020 – we need all the happiness we can get!
You have customers that order for special occasions but do find that some order just to indulge a little?
Cheers to that!!
I think the thing I admire the most is the fact that people are still celebrating, despite the circumstances. I think it’s truly the little things in life, and its seems that people are on that wave length as well.
A lot of customers have been celebrating their birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers, etc. with their circle or immediate family. It’s been heart-warming to see that no matter what’s going on people are still able to find that ray of sunshine. I think it’s so special and important.
Let’s also face it, life is better with cake.
How would you describe your personal style?
Ou, this is fun! I would say simple with a little edge. I am always drawn to simplicity, but when there is that touch of different, funky or boldness I am ALL for it!
I always say whatever you do, wear or say do it with all of you and just freakin’ rock it!
The retail industry has taken quite the hit – more and more stores are moving online. I still prefer going into boutiques to shop. Where are some of your favorite places to shop?
It’s true, our world has become so adaptive and had to, really quickly due to the sudden change in our world. I think we all deserve a pat on the back for that, and even more so a big round of applause for all the small local businesses. They had to become extremely responsive to our current measures and it’s truly admirable.
I love Winners, my oh my you put me in that store and I will go to town!! There seriously is a magic of not knowing what you are going to find and when it pops up its everything you needed and more!
I also love and appreciate small boutiques like Kindred Shop and Studio and JV Studios & Boutique on Wellington, their jewelry is breathtaking! If you have not visited I hope you do!
I am a skincare junkie. Do you have any skin care products that you are obsessed with?
Gotta love a good skin care routine, all for healthy skin! My favorite products are:
– Brazilian Bum Bum Cream by Sol de Janeira
– Yonka Guarana Scrub
– Yonka Creme 28
– Nuda Face Tan Water
– Glossier Futuredew
– Laneige Sleeping Care Lip Mask
What is your favorite way to pamper yourself?
This is so important. I love a hot bath, good work out and freshly painted nails.
I try to always have some fresh florals around, when I’m working or relaxing, always having fresh flowers gives me a uplifting feeling. It’s a big mood booster!
Finally – what three words describe you best?
Ahh this is a hard question! Nothing like some self-reflection! Hmmm I would say, driven, positive and energetic!