We had the good fortune of connecting with Joliene Presseller and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Joliene, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
When you start a small business, in order to be successful you have to go all in. When you are all in with no fallback, every decision you make has risk involved. When every decision you make is a risk, it is no longer taking a risk, it is taking action. As of May 2020, I had newly completed my Masters in Social Work with a concentration in Adult Behavioral Health and was working at the Phoenix VA Hospital as a clinical social worker for veterans with severe mental illnesses. When the global pandemic hit, my entire cohort was furloughed with the promise of being brought back when the outbreak was under control, whenever that may be. This may have been my greatest blessing in disguise. The sudden halt of my social work career gave me the courage, and time, to dive in headfirst with opening Jojo the Baker’s Homemade Confectionery. Baking and creating desserts that are beautiful, innovative, and full of flavor had not only been my form of self-care and stress management while working at the hospital, but was something I had always felt very passionately about. I was confident in my ability to bake but quickly learned that getting a new business off the ground and running was the true risk. It was a test of resiliency, adaptation, and good old-fashioned trial and error to learn how to make the bakery succeed. Once I decided I was all in with the pursuit of making Jojo the Baker a household name, the question of if something was too much of a risk began to fade away. Today, because of the continued efforts of taking action over the last year, Jojo the Baker is booking and catering mass events for The Mayo Clinic, Honor Health Hospitals, local and destination weddings, various corporations, and shipping desserts nationally.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Jojo the Baker was founded by Joliene Presseller in 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. After stress baking her way through college and completing a Masters in Social Work, Joliene came to the realization that while she loves helping people, her real passion is baking. Joliene set out to make her passion a profession by establishing Jojo the Baker, a bakery on its way to becoming known for custom cakes, specialty cakes, tarts, bars, and more. Jojo the Baker prides itself on supporting local as much as possible and currently sources 90% of all products locally. Every piece of fruit that goes into a dessert is handpicked by Joliene to ensure peak of freshness. Furthermore, no dessert that comes out of the Jojo the Baker kitchen contains any preservatives or parabens.
Starting this business amidst the COVID-19 pandemic made us want to find a way for at-risk individuals to still have access to fresh baked goods without the fear of being exposed to the virus when leaving their home. From day one, all desserts have been delivered directly to the customer’s front door to provide an additional sense of comfort to all of our wonderful clients.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
There are so many wonderful places to visit in the area! Here is what I would recommend for a one-week trip:
Sunrise hike at Pinnacle Peak Mountain
Lunch at Pinnacle Grille
Afternoon walk through Kierland Commons (There are countless great boutiques to check out in there)
Happy Hour at The Beverly on Main – Ask Joe the bartender to make you one of his amazing competition cocktails! You won’t be disappointed!
Sunrise hike at Tom’s Thumb Trail
Breakfast/brunch at Eggstasy on Marketstreet in DC Ranch
Wander through the shops in Old Town Scottsdale and learn a little history about Arizona.
Dinner at the Roaring Fork – Try the steak tenderloin salad!
Day Trip to Sedona
Hike, or take a jeep tour, to the beautiful Devil’s Bridge.
Visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross that was built into the red rocks of Sedona.
Lunch in the town center
Explore Slide Rock State Park – Absolutely breathtaking year-round
2-Day Trip to the Grand Canyon
Day 1: Hike down the canyon
Stay overnight at the Phantom Ranch lodge at the base of the canyon
Day 2: Hike or ride the mules back up the canyon
Head to Flagstaff for the night
Drive from Flagstaff to one of Arizona’s historic mining towns, Jerome.
Walk around and explore all this charming town has to offer!
Lakeside spa day at Inspire Day Spa in Scottsdale to recover from all the hiking!
High Street Farmers Market (open October-May)
Lunch at Phoenix Public Market Cafe
Try something a little dangerous and a lot fun at Hotshots Axe Throwing
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Family has been the foundation of all my successes, and Jojo the Baker’s Homemade Confectionery is no exception. Telling my family that I was going to open a bakery instead of continuing down the path that my degrees laid out must have sounded insane. I was sure they were going to tell me I was crazy to start a new business during a pandemic, but they jumped on board without hesitation. My dad converted his guest house into a bakery space for me with two additional new ovens and provided the bakery with seed money to get started. He spent many nights at the kitchen table with me offering business advice and sharing stories about how he got his construction business off the ground 30+ years ago. My mom spent countless hours watching YouTube videos to help troubleshoot why certain desserts weren’t coming out like the photos and made hundreds of buttercream roses for the tops of cakes, that she would also help deliver! My sister, Selene, re-posted every cake, pie, bar, and tart that I made for the first seven months on her Instagram and Facebook in an effort to help the bakery gain exposure. More importantly, she called me every other day to remind me that she was proud of me and not to give up on my dream. My brother, Nicholi, utilized his business fraternity connections at ASU to also help bring in orders. My boyfriend, Ron, physically made it possible! In addition to working full time, he worked with me every Friday for 12 hours or longer to make all of the desserts that would go to Farmers Market North Scottsdale and High Street Farmers Market that weekend. Our first major holiday being open was Thanksgiving 2020 and I never imagined the bakery would get as many orders as it did! He worked with me for 36 hours straight to get all of the orders filled in time for their deliveries. Ron also utilized his social media connections to promote the bakery time and time again. My long-time friend Lisa was not only the person who gave me the final push I needed to start my ovens but was also my first customer. She created what we now call “Sweet Tooth Tuesday,” which was essentially an excuse to eat desserts without an occasion so that my desserts would find their way to more people’s tables. I’d also like to thank and shout out Lori from Farmers Market North Scottsdale for taking the time to aid me in the process of becoming a licensed and insured business. Farmers Market North Scottsdale was the first market Jojo the Baker joined and Lori recurrently featured the bakery and its success in the weekly newsletters to all market-goers. Thank you so much for taking a chance on Jojo the Baker!
With that, I also want to express my deepest appreciation to all of our loyal customers who came to the markets weekly to try whatever desserts were on the menu, shared them with their friends and family, and helped the bakery become what it is today.