The Shredded Carrot
Growing up in West Covina, Suzanne Eggli didn’t know that baked goods could taste so good. “My mom is a terrible baker,” she said with a laugh. “Everything was hard as a rock.” It wasn’t until Eggli started baking with her daughter that she realized the potential of say, the perfect carrot cake. Twenty years after she became an insurance company executive, Eggli finally made that dream come true, when she opened the Shredded Carrot last year in a little space on Valley Boulevard, and started selling her now famous carrot cake.
Eggli’s family has deep roots in Alhambra. She’s lived here for 32 years and her children followed in her husband’s footsteps by attending Marguerita Elementary School. The Shredded Carrot is located only six blocks from her home. Eggli told the Alhambra Source about clocking in to the bakery while juggling another full-time job, her baking secrets, and how special it is to run a bakery in a city that’s so special to her.
How did you start the Shredded Carrot?
I’ve been baking for family friends for 30-something years. I always said that when I retire I was going to open a bakery, because then I wouldn’t have to think of anything else, and whatever I felt like baking that day is what we’d have. Every couple of years, I would just go out and test the waters and see what was out there. Nothing ever came of it.
One thing I hadn’t done was put anything on the Alhambra Facebook page. My problem was I just wanted a small space. Everything was too large for me. And the attorneys right down the street emailed or text me right back and said, “Oh, there’s a place right down the [street]l from us.” So that’s how I started out on this little venture. I said, “Well, take that leap of faith, let’s do it 10 years [before retirement] and see what happens.” And we did it.
How did you start baking?
I have three boys and our fourth child is a girl. And that’s when I decided — what do you do with little girls? You bake. That’s where it started. And her friends would come over, and every year we’d have baking parties and it developed from there. And I love it — it was instant.
Do you still have your [day] job?
I’m a VP at an insurance agency. My goal is to stay there until I retire. Fortunately enough, my boys are here during the day. I don’t have to worry about anything during the day. I come straight here from work and I bake until midnight or 2 in the morning. And then first thing in the morning my older son Brent comes in and starts baking muffins and cookies and gets those things so that they’re fresh. And then Jonah comes in at noon and starts the afternoon stuff. And they prep everything that I need to do when I get in at night. Ninety percent of it’s baked for me before I get here, so I’m just basically putting it together and decorating.
How did you choose what you would sell?
Ten years ago I started playing around with carrot cake. And it took off with family and friends. Everybody says it’s the best thing they’ve had. But you know, it’s family and friends, so they’re always nice. But it is our number one seller.
What do you think sets your carrot cake apart?
Honestly, I think it’s because we do such small batches. And everything is fresh. The carrot cake — you order it, the carrots are [shredded] when the cake is being made. Nothing is pre-done. None of our stuff [is pre-made]. But there are so many goodies in the carrot cake, within 12 to 24 hours of when you asked for it. That’s the big thing.
What else do you sell?
Really old-fashioned stuff. The hummingbird cake, which is an old Southern cake. It’s made from bananas and raisins and pecans. That’s really nice. And then bread pudding. Cream puffs. Flan. Key Lime Pie. Our chocolate cake. This is stuff you can’t out of the market. It has to be fresh, or it doesn’t work.
We also do dog treats. That’s a weird thing — my daughter started that. And it’s popular. They’re very limited. They’re only three ingredients — banana, oatmeal and vinegar. The regulars, they literally just come in here for the dog treats.
How is business?
Business is doing really good. I’m really, really blessed. I’m trying to get more local foot traffic. The custom stuff — people are coming from all over. That’s booming, but I’d need to focus more on the people who are in Alhambra. And we have little things we do. Jonah has a little group of kids that show up every weekend. They buy cupcakes that aren’t frosted yet or decorated, and he brings out all the frosting and all the decorations and they just stand here and they decorate and that’s the one they purchase. And they love it.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m really hoping that this continues to take off, because in five years I’d like to open a second one. That’s my dream is to have two — one for each of the boys, because they’ve put so much work into this. And I’ll just come in and play.