Bryce Cherven has had a long-time passion for pastries, but she never imagined she would go from baker to boss. When her catering position was eliminated after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she channeled her stresses into sweets and quickly realized her future dreams could come to life.
As Bryce began “slinging muffins and cheesecakes just to pay the bills” (as she says), the feedback was overwhelming. Her customers couldn’t get enough of her pastries and encouraged her to turn her passion into a business. As luck would have it, Bryce’s close friend was a restaurant consultant. She gave Bryce the guidance and confidence she needed to take the leap. Just a month later, Pastry Unicorn was born.
From a home kitchen to a home-run business in need of a new banking partner
Bryce’s luck and preparation continued to pay off in the early days of her business. She landed a spot to sell her pastries at the popular Downtown Mesa Farmers Market, despite farmers markets often requiring a longer history and larger customer base to be featured as a vendor.
After building up a group of fans and regulars, Bryce wanted to continue Pastry Unicorn’s momentum, expand to local coffee shops, and join other farmers markets around town. At the time, she was still banking with a credit union in Denver, where she lived before moving to Arizona, but she wanted to move her accounts for easier management and local support.
Unsure about her options, she turned to Local First Arizona, who sponsored the community kitchen where she prepped her pastries. Local First happened to be hosting a lunch and learn event about banking with Gateway Bank’s president, James Christensen, as the guest speaker, so Bryce decided to check it out.
After hearing about Gateway’s passion for community and people, she felt a connection and knew she had found the perfect fit. “I love that James talked about getting to know the business owners behind the numbers,” Bryce recalls.
Making food magic — together
Since meeting James at Local First’s event, Bryce has moved her business and personal bank accounts to Gateway Bank and is exploring a business loan to take Pastry Unicorn to the next level. (Her supporters are also raising money to help replace valuable equipment that was recently stolen so she can continue pursuing her dreams.) With additional funding and equipment, Bryce aspires to open an ice cream cart to sell ice cream sandwiches soon, then work up to a brick-and-mortar dessert bar.
No matter where her luck and hard work take her next, the team at Gateway has no doubt sweet success is in Bryce’s future. “I am still excited after 35+ years in banking to meet entrepreneurs and watch their dream develop,” James says. “While our part is very small, working with folks like Bryce is such a treat, literally in this case.”