My Digital Life: Stephanie Giordano, Owner at Baked by Steph
Chanel bags, Louis Vuitton backpacks and Gucci slippers that are good enough to eat: we chat to the woman mixing fashion and baking, Stephanie Giordano aka Baked by Steph.
What if I told you that anything on your Net-a-Porter wish list could be yours for the price of a Pret lunch? Stephanie Giordano makes it possible, and there are no dark arts involved - only dough. Baked by Steph combines baking with fashion, with Steph and her team magicking up belief-defying iced cookies in the shape of Chanel flats, Gucci slippers, Louis Vuitton backpacks and more from their London-based kitchen.
Like so many sweet-toothed others, I discovered Baked By Steph via Instagram - as soon as I laid my eyes on that tiny edible Hermés Kelly [left] - a commission for Moda Operandi, no less - I knew these were no ordinary treats. My first order was a few pairs of Comme des Garçons hi-tops for the birthday of TFD's Dan. And let me tell you, those fashionable little morsels taste just as good as they look (seriously, I once bought Steph's Valentine's cookies to hand out around the office but gobbled them all up myself).
Steph stepped out of the kitchen for a few moments to chat to me about building a business on Instagram, edible jewellery and 3D-printed cookie cutters.
NH: Could you share a brief career history? How did you start Baked by Steph?
SG: I started out studying Fashion at university and then worked in the fashion industry for a few years before moving into the digital world as a Project Manager for a web design agency - completely non baking related! Baking was just something I did for fun and a different way for me to explore my creativity and get 'hands-on' after long days of interacting with a computer screen.
As my skills developed I started getting interest from companies and brands and was quickly inundated with commission requests. That's when I realised the potential for a business and started to take it more seriously and put the work in to make it viable. It didn't happen overnight, there was a long period of trying to juggle a full-time job with long nights and weekends of baking and naturally it got to a point where I could no longer manage both and had to make a choice. Obviously I chose baking.
What I do now couldn't be more different to where I started, but my past career choices have been absolutely crucial in the birth and growth of the Baked by Steph brand. Design and technology are at the forefront of what we create every day in the kitchen and the knowledge I gained in my previous roles have formed a really solid foundation for what I do now.
NH: How important has Instagram been for your business, and how did you build such an incredible following?
SG: Well Baked by Steph essentially started out as an Instagram baking hobby account (hence the name) so to say Instagram has been fundamental to my business would be an understatement! Our following has just grown organically over the past couple of years and I think that's largely down to the fact that I still use it as a platform to showcase my exploration of baking and creativity rather than a platform to just push products.
NH: You recently started a YouTube channel - tell us more!
SG: I did! Engaging with our followers is really important to me and I constantly get asked for tips, techniques, recipes and help. Responding via DMs and emails is limiting and frustrating so video tutorials seemed like the obvious solution. I'd been putting it off for a while as we're always just so busy and there never seemed like a good time to do it but then the lockdown happened and I decided to use that time to start exploring video creation. I'm still learning but I hope to ultimately be able to provide our followers with a platform of fun, educational baking content.
NH: What are your favourite social media accounts to follow for inspiration, on Instagram and YouTube?
SG: As far as baking is concerned, I'm pretty obsessed with @rymondtn on Instagram for his creative, edible flatlays. I also love Preppy Kitchen on Youtube - he just creates the most wholesome baking content in the most beautiful kitchen and I could watch him all day. Oh and @Tortikannuchka on Instagram for the most insane, architectural cakes you have ever seen. Every post leaves me in awe.
Outside of baking I follow a lot of design, fashion and branding related accounts for inspiration. @Dezeen, @TheBrandingCollective, @TheHouseThatBlackBuilt and @Behance are a few of my faves.
NH: What Baked by Steph creation is your favourite, personally?
SG: That's such a hard question to answer! If I had to choose I'd probably say the bejewelled hand cookies I created for Shay Jewellery [pictured left] stand out the most in my mind. Not just because of the sparkly final outcome but also because it was one of the first commissions I took on that was a little out of my comfort zone. I had an idea in my head of how I wanted the end result to look but didn't quite know how best to approach it so it was a big learning curve for me but I absolutely love a creative challenge!
NH: Do you ever use digital tools as part of the creative process, or for the running of the business?
SG: Absolutely! Coming from a digital background I'm just used to working on digital platforms so everything business related is managed via digital tools. In terms of our products and design I use a mix of Photoshop, InDesign, Inshot and FinalCut for video editing. I also 3D print a lot of our cookie cutters and design and print our own stencils, so 3D printing and stencil design software also feature in the Baked by Steph kitchen.
NH: What was your first email address?
SG: firstname.lastname@example.org - I wish I could tell you it was something more ridiculous like 'email@example.com' or that there's a fun reason behind the '120' element, but the truth is my rather sensible next door neighbour set it up for me and opted for the first username autogenerated by Hotmail. I don't even spell my name 'Steff'.
NH: Do you use Pinterest?
SG: I used Pinterest for approx. 2 minutes a few years back but I never really gelled with it. Instead I use a mix of Instagram's Saved content feature and albums on my phone as I tend to screenshot things that I like as I go and then organise them at the end of the day into albums.
NH: What apps are on the first page of your phone?
SG: Too many! I group all of my apps into folders and still they are spread across 3 pages on my phone - I think I have an app problem. Email, Social Media, Travel and Audio related apps are the priority so they primarily feature on page one. There's also a calorie tracking app that I insist on keeping on page one even though I never open it.
NH: What physical thing would you never, ever swap for its digital counterpart?
SG: I don't think there's anything that I wouldn't swap for a digital option. Digital all the way!
Follow Steph and the Baked by Steph team on Instagram @baked.by.steph
Interview by Natalie Hughes