TAMPA, Fla. — Known as "The Cake Girl," Kristina Lavallee’s love for baking began as a child.
“I was born and raised in Puerto Rico,” Lavallee said. “My mom, she was a chef back then. She loved to cook for family, friends and even did it as a catering company.”
At 15, Lavallee’s family moved to Orlando where she later went to the University of Central Florida and got degrees in hospitality, restaurant, and food service management. She did this all while working in bakeries and making custom orders for family and friends.
“Even while working, I did it on my own. But it got to a point that the demand was so high I couldn't do both. I had to choose.” Lavallee said.
Since then, she’s never looked back. With the support of her husband, Kirby, who she met in college, they made the choice together. He runs the marketing side of the business and even came up with the iconic name, "The Cake Girl."
“I think we have a great product. Not only, you know, it tastes good, but it looks great. You have to have both. I think that's why people keep coming to us. They really want that extraordinary, big, amazing cake. They know it tastes good.” Lavallee said.
Be it taste or design, as the orders came in, Lavallee put in the hours to make it — all while selling at farmer's markets, out of a dessert truck and later her own brick-and-mortar store. Now, she has a team of people who work out of her Carrollwood store. As news of her work spreads so is her following, with more than 110,000 followers on Instagram, her clients are all over the country and even include celebrities.
“I would have never thought it would get this big or anything like that.” We've done a lot of cakes for people that are well known. Leonard Fournette is a great friend and also a customer of ours. He was the one who ordered the GOAT cake for Tom Brady. We also made cakes for Glenn Beck. We flew a cake to him to Texas.” Lavallee said.
Kristina’s attention to detail and her work in the community is part of what sets her apart.
Her advice for others thinking of taking a similar risk is to take the opportunity.
“You only live once,” Lavallee said. “If you don't take that risk, you'll never know.”
"The Cake Girl" has won many awards for her work including Wedding Wire’s Couple’s Choice Award, The Tampa Bay Business Journal’s Businesswoman of the year and has been nominated several times for the Business Observer’s top 40 under 40.
When we were talking about celebrities, she says a celebrity she’d love to make a cake is Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
“Believe it or not, I'm obsessed with The Rock. Dwayne Johnson. Not only because he looks good, but, you know, as a person. It will be amazing to one day be able to make him a cake and just see his reaction. I would love that!
The Cake Girl is located in the Carrollwood area of Tampa at 14851 N Dale Mabry Hwy in Tampa.