For some, rice crispie treats were a childhood staple, but for a San Marcos-based mother-daughter duo, the sticky sweets have evolved into a small business built on gourmet versions of the classic dessert.
Exactly one year ago, Laura Potter and her daughter, Natalie Potter, founded their own small-batch baking company, Bliss & Baker, right in the kitchen of their home – a place where they’ve always spent quality time.
“We’ve always loved to spend time together and kitchen is the place where that happened. We’ve always baked, so we decided to make a business out of it,” Natalie told NBC 7. “Rice crispies were always a fixture on our counter.”
Laura says her own mother was also known to whip up unforgettable rice crispies, so she happily carried on that tradition at home with Natalie. For years, Laura and Natalie made the marshmallow and rice cereal treats for their loved ones, sometimes topping them with chocolate, or putting them on sticks for parties.
Every time they shared their homemade goodies, family and friends seemed to be sweet on them.
After much encouragement from their loved ones, the duo realized they might be onto something. They decided to go big and create their own small business, beginning with one experimental but on-trend flavor: salted caramel.
To this day, Laura says Bliss & Baker’s No. 1 seller is the Salty Caramel crispie, topped with hand-harvested sea salt from another local business, La Jolla Salt Co.
Other unique, modern crispie flavors have followed, including the cinnamon-centric El Churro, the colorful, sprinkle-topped Sugar Cookie, a peanut butter-filled crispie and the Coconut Caramel Crispie boasting homemade caramel sauce and topped with toasted coconut.
The treats are available for purchase online and Laura and Natalie also sell them at pop-up markets across San Diego. Their marshmallow masterpieces have landed spots on a couple of menus, too.
Recently, the business was tapped to distribute its treats at two local restaurants: El Pescador Fish Market in La Jolla (634 Pearl St.) and celebrity chef Brian Malarkey’s farm-to-table eatery, greenACRE (10300 Campus Point Dr.), where, for now, some of the crispies are available on a weekly basis.
The mother-daughter team says seeing their work in local restaurants has been very encouraging, and they’re inspired to get their crispies into more spots across San Diego in the future.
“It makes us feel like this is real. We’re not just doing this or playing around anymore,” says Natalie. “This is a real business.”
Bliss & Baker has also featured its treats at wedding registry events with retailers like Crate & Barrel, West Elm and Williams-Sonoma, offering the crispies as party favors for special events like wedding receptions and bridal and baby showers, complete with customized wrapping and labels.
Laura says bite-sized versions of the crispies are also available for parties and Bliss & Baker can cater and deliver those orders directly to customers across San Diego. The crispies, which come individually wrapped, are also available in sets of four ($14) packaged in a small, tidy box, so they can be given as a gift.
Someday, Laura and Natalie hope to see their crispies stocked in cute, local, small coffee shops as well, or at their own brick-and-mortar shop.
With the growth of their company over the past year, Laura and Natalie are now making their products in a commercial kitchen space in the North County. Still, the duo says their home kitchen is the birthplace of their creativity and continues to serve as the testing hub for new flavors and ideas.
Their family members – including Laura’s son and husband – tend to gather there to taste test their latest crispie creations. Natalie says that usually after dinner, her dad and brother will take a walk around the kitchen counter, looking for the sweets. Her brother is a big fan of the El Churro.
Laura says their company is committed to supporting other small, San Diego-based businesses by locally-sourcing some of the ingredients used in the crispies, including cream, butter and salt, when possible.
“We want to focus on San Diego [businesses]. If we can do that, we love that,” she explains.
To that end, Laura says the salt she uses is from La Jolla Salt Co., harvested right in the seaside community. Bliss & Baker products also contain butter from San Diego-based Challenge Dairy and cream from San Marcos-based Hollandia Dairy, keeping the company’s ties local.
The women say they plan to keep their company family-owned and operated as well, as their tie to one another is also extremely important.
“I’ve always just loved to watch her,” Natalie said, referring to working with her mother. “Even to this day, when she’s making dinner, I just like to sit there, talk and watch her.”
Natalie, a 21-year-old finishing her last semester at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM), says she feels lucky to be in business with her mom because the partnership “just clicks.”
Laura feels the same.
“I think we complement each other really well. We both have the same vision; we both love it and are passionate about baking and cooking. It’s a good fit. I like the family business,” she added, beaming.
Laura and Natalie say rice crispies will continue to be the Bliss & Baker specialty, since many customers say the treats remind them of childhood and happy memories.
In the future, the duo may expand offerings to include cookies, cupcakes and maybe even a savory-flavored crispie.
No matter the creative direction, however, Bliss & Baker plans to stay rooted in San Diego – and hopefully become a well-known name that lingers on the lips of locals.
“We want San Diego to love us, because we love San Diego so much,” says Natalie.
For more info, visit the Bliss and Baker website.