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Tess Levin of Fluff Cups: “Faith in Myself”

I would encourage any twenty year old starting a business to just do it! I believe this is absolutely the time to take risks and start something that could blossom into exactly what you want it to be. I would advise to remember that success is not a straight line, it’s a jumbled, coiled mess […]

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I would encourage any twenty year old starting a business to just do it! I believe this is absolutely the time to take risks and start something that could blossom into exactly what you want it to be. I would advise to remember that success is not a straight line, it’s a jumbled, coiled mess and to expect many highs and lows. I would also remind them to celebrate every victory, no matter how small, because those small wins will ultimately bring you to your goal.


As a part of our series called “My Life as a TwentySomething Founder”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tess Levin, a professionally-trained Pastry Chef residing in the Los Angeles area. She started her Master of the Pastry Arts journey in May of 2018 and has been featured in numerous baking blogs. Levin owns Fluff Cups Specialty Desserts — a gourmet dessert company serving the SoCal area. ​Through her professional food training, she became a respected food photographer within the LA community and has accumulated a large following of over 22,000 on her Instagram account dedicated to hand-crafted gourmet desserts . Levin’s passion is french pastry, and has quickly turned what was once a hobby into a career of cake decorating, photography, social advertising, and recipe creations for brands across the nation.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

I’ve been baking since I can remember and in high school I started selling my creations to local independent coffee shops around Arizona. After graduating, I moved to L.A. to attend University of Southern California to study Marketing and Psychology and ended up A BAKER! I started seriously baking in May 2018 and received my Master of Baking in November 2018. I began to pursue owning a dessert company once I graduated college and found I wasn’t feeling fulfilled from a traditional 9–5 job. I started Fluff Cups Specialty Desserts from my small Los Angeles apartment and still bake from there today! I created my company on Instagram on May 20, 2018 and have grown it to 22k+ followers in just 2 years. I have been able to provide gourmet desserts to some of my favorite actors, musicians, and companies.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company? What lessons or takeaways idd you take out of that story?

The most interesting thing I have done is provide baked goods for a few well known musicians. It wasn’t a traditional customer order. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is how to go after what I want and utilize newer tools for business owners like growing a reputable social media following. I ended up DM’ing a few musicians on Instagram selling my services and hoping they would see my message and be interested in a young company and my product. Luckily, they did! I had reached out to numerous musicians, actors, and producers and was rejected 9/10 times. However, this taught me that you need to persevere no matter how many times you get “no” because it only takes one person to say “yes”.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

It’s more than just a company, I try to personally connect with my customers and followers and give people a more personal look into my life and my baking process. Allowing people to see the real Tess Levin has enabled me to truly create meaningful, lasting relationships in my business.

I also use my business platform on Instagram to bring a dose of reality to social media. I try to break the stigma of “showing your best life” on Instagram because I am only human and my followers, clients, and partners should see that it isn’t always rainbows and sunshine. I started Fluff Cups during a time where I wasn’t feeling fulfilled, this company grew out of a personal struggle and to share that with the world and bringing that narrative into my business makes my company stand out from the bakery down the street.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I have to thank my family: my mom, dad and brother and my boyfriend for their unconditional support. Without their love and encouragement, I would not have been able to accomplish what I have. In 2018, I held pop-up shops at Williams Sonoma, which required 100’s of separate desserts to be prepared, transported, marketed, and sold in a single day. I had to make these desserts, all the while still working a full-time 9–5 job! My parents flew in from Arizona and my boyfriend spent their free time helping me bake, clean, and package these desserts to be sold. On top of that, they helped the day of my pop-ups with the actual selling of each baked good. They would stay up until the wee hours of the morning with me to get it all done. Honestly, it brings tears to my eyes that I have such an amazing support system, without them I wouldn’t be who I am, and I don’t think Fluff Cups Specialty Desserts would even exist.

Are you working on any exciting projects now?

I am!! I am so excited that I am creating some content for Buzzfeed Tasty in the next few weeks. That is such a dream come true for me, since Buzzfeed Tasty is such a respected company in this industry!

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Yes! I would like to think I bring goodness into the world with my platform. As I mentioned before, Fluff Cups grew from a place of hardship, a place of personal struggle. I want to bring empathy and compassion to my following, clients, friends, etc. I want to bring positivity through my bakes and messages each day. I want to show that it is okay to not be okay and if no one is in your corner, I will be in your corner! I think inclusivity and acceptance is important.

Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke! I remember reading it at a very young age and being transported into the world Cornelia Funke created. It was the first time that I experienced that and it opened my eyes to creating a new reality for yourself; a world that is your own!

Can you share 5 of the most difficult and most rewarding parts of being a “TwentySomething founder”. Please share an example or story for each

Most rewarding:

  1. Self-Made — when I received my first large, corporate order for Fluff Cups, I was petrified. I fixated on every detail of the process. Once the delivery and party was complete, I received the positive customer review and compensation. I was over the moon. When it is your own company you feel pride when you get good reviews. You attribute it to YOUR hard work and you take it very personal which is rewarding because YOU did it yourself.
  2. Progress — one of the most rewarding parts of owning my own company is seeing the progress I’ve made. Not only my skills but also the amount of orders and success my business continues to have is far beyond what I did when I first started Fluff Cups.
  3. Faith in Myself — the one thing, maybe the ultimate reward of owning my own business is having faith in myself. I am responsible for whether my company is successful or if it fails. Owning Fluff Cups has made me confident in my decisions and trust myself more!

Most difficult:

  1. Rejection — I don’t even have stories about rejection because, 9/10 times I try something, I am rejected, WHICH IS NORMAL! If I reach out to 50 celebrities and influencers to inquire about collaborations or partnerships, maybe one will respond, sometimes no one will respond. During these times, it is important to remember to persevere, keep trying, remember your goal, and know it only takes one person to say yes.
  2. Finances — starting your own business in your 20’s can be extremely difficult if you don’t have a security blanket of savings, which in your 20’s, most of us do not. I believe going into this venture knowing that money will be tight will set expectations. You absolutely do not want to go in thinking that you will make millions within months because reality will hit you in the face.
  3. Slow growth — it is hard to be patient with myself and my business. In the digital world we live in, we see “overnight” success that is NEVER true. “Overnight success” that was 10 years in the making. I have many baking friends who have grown their business extremely fast and I find myself comparing myself frequently to them. Why didn’t I grow as fast? Why am I not more like them? The answer is I am on my own journey and the slow growth is hard, but my persistence will get me to where I want to be.

What are the main takeaways that you would advise a twenty year old who is looking to found a business?

I would encourage any twenty year old starting a business to just do it! I believe this is absolutely the time to take risks and start something that could blossom into exactly what you want it to be. I would advise to remember that success is not a straight line, it’s a jumbled, coiled mess and to expect many highs and lows. I would also remind them to celebrate every victory, no matter how small, because those small wins will ultimately bring you to your goal.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂

Wow, honestly. Christina Tosi is my role model. I watched her Chef’s Table at least 4 times. She is so talented and brings such a positivity to her surroundings. Her life story resonated with me before starting Fluff Cups and I respect her worth ethic tremendously. She built an empire with love, positivity, and baking!

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

I would love to see all of you on my instagram! Please follow me at www.instagram.com/fluffcups

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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