KAROLYN PLUMMER: Creator of sweets

INGLEWOOD — There are three reasons why customers will eagerly return to Karolyn Plummer’s family-owned bakery in Inglewood — and they are captured in the name of her restaurant: Sweet. Red. Peach.

“My three customer favorites are sweet potato pie, red velvet cake and peach cobbler,” said Plummer with a confident smile. In the competitive world of cupcakes, cakes and other pastries, Plummer has found a recipe for success with Sweet Red Peach Custom Cakes & Pastries located at 1035 Prairie Ave. in Inglewood.

A small storefront with limited bistro-style seating, the bakery is a confectionary haven. There is a steady stream of customers and all seem to wear the same Cheshire Cat smile when it’s their turn to order. You realize that this is their happy place.

Although Sweet Red Peach boasts a diverse menu of cookies, cobblers, cakes and pies, cupcakes are the top sellers.

Delicious and artistic, the frosted tempters have grown into a national obsession. Trending since about 2011, cupcakes have gone from just another bakery item to hard-hitting contestant reality shows such as “Cupcake Girls” and “Cupcake Wars.”

“I placed third in the Los Angeles Cupcake Challenge,” said Plummer.  “I truly believe the reason we [only] placed third was because we were virtually unknown. There were at least 30 other bakeries, but there was less than a half dozen African Americans participating.”

“I feel that the Los Angeles Cupcake Challenge put us on the map,” she said, adding that she was the only African-American bakery that placed. “I learned that the judges liked the way my cupcakes tasted, but that I needed to work on my presentation, and that’s what I did.”

Sweet Red Peach offers 12 different cupcake flavors to savor. Baked daily to ensure the highest quality, bakers begin mixing Plummer’s recipes of confectionary delight at 5 a.m. and open the doors for business by 10 a.m.

“Everybody loves our German chocolate and red velvet cupcakes and cakes,” Plummer said. “A lot of bakeries have a red velvet cupcake, but we like to think that ours is one of the best.”

One bite into her red velvet cupcake and you will agree that Plummer backs up her culinary claim. Topping the palm-sized piece of pleasure is a cheesecake mouse with a graham cracker crust.  “We sell out of those every day. We also do a blue velvet cake that’s popular.”

Plummer said building a successful business came with a lot of sacrifices and trials and errors.

She started the pastry business going door-to-door at beauty shops and barber shops in 1999. She maintained this pace while also working as a full-time primary level school teacher.

She “gambled” on opening a restaurant in Las Vegas in 2004 called Boon’s Bar-B-Que. Despite being located next to the MGM Hotel, the business failed.

“The restaurant was located in a food court,” she said. “Most of the guests never knew it was there.”

Lessons learned, Plummer returned to Los Angeles and worked as a teacher until she could open another restaurant in 2011 in Inglewood.

“I enjoy teaching,” she said, “but I’m blessed to find my passion.”

She moved her business once again to its current location about a year ago to benefit from the traffic fromHollywood Park, which will be converted into a diverse retail and theatre space.

When asked what advice she would give future business owners, Plummer said: “You have to be willing to make sacrifices. You have to work long hours. You also need a business plan. I didn’t have one before, but I do now.”

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