Sweet Success

Jessica Duggan’s passion for baking has turned into a booming business – in Puyallup and beyond

If you’ve ever wondered how an entrepreneur can make a good living doing what he or she loves best, meet Jessica Duggan. She’s the owner of Puyallup-based The Vintage Baker, and its pie-making subsidiary, Crust. 

Once a receptionist, Duggan knew she wasn’t destined to sit behind an office desk. “I would feel something when I’d sit and make menus,” Duggan said. “I knew in my heart, baking was what I was meant to do.” So she went for it. 

Her path to success wasn’t smooth. Initially, Duggan and a baking partner built a thriving bakery operation, but the two owners realized they were chasing different goals and parted ways amicably. Around that time, the business was selected to compete on season four of the Food Network’s Spring Baking Championship.

Duggan accepted the challenge, making it through to the fourth episode. The show didn’t air until after her first business closed, but it didn’t stop her from forging ahead.

“I decided to start a new business six days after the bakery closed, and within two weeks, I was baking again,” Duggan said. “I promoted on Facebook and met people at the corner store ­— just like I was dealing, but with cookies.”

Duggan officially launched The Vintage Baker in April 2018, and she and her team were greeted on opening day by a long line of customers stretching around the perimeter of the market.

The overwhelming demand prompted Duggan to rethink her business strategy, and in response, she purchased a 1965 vintage Shasta trailer, retrofitted for counter service, and took her show on the road.

Next, Duggan decided she wanted to focus exclusively on pie making. “Just as I’d decided to stop making pastries, the owner of Anthem Coffee called to explore a baking partnership,” she said.

Duggan responded by hiring and training a dedicated baking team to support the partnership under The Vintage Baker. Meanwhile, Duggan personally bakes and sells her Crust-branded pies from her vintage trailer.

“I think business is never static, and it’s ever-changing,” Duggan said. “Ideas are always coming up, and you have to have an open mind, because complacency doesn’t succeed.”

Bring on the Bakeries

Nina B’s Custom Sugar Cookies 

Some sugar cookies are cute. Some taste good. Nina B’s Sweet Treats checks both boxes. Find her on Facebook, and thank us later (with a box of cookies, please!). Federal Way

Susanne’s Bakery 

It’s worth traveling over the bridge for the cinnamon rolls at this modest-size bakery. Buy one freshly baked on a weekend morning, and grab a hot sandwich to go. Gig Harbor

Black Diamond Bakery

This bakery has changed hands several times since 1902, when it was first built, but Black Diamond Bakery is still beloved for its bread. We’re here for the sweets, though, so don’t forget to order an apple fritter or two along with a loaf of the country hearth bread. Black Diamond

San Francisco Street Bakery

Known for their bagels, hand-rolled and boiled the old-fashion way, these babies are perfect with a smear of cream cheese or piled high with deli meat and cheese for the ultimate sandwich. Olympia

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