1. Introduce yourself: your name and where you live.
Laurel Gallucci. I grew up in Santa Monica, but now live in Mar Vista with my family.
2. Your company Sweet Laurel has gathered such a cult following here in LA… can you tell us how and why you started out?
In 2012, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s Disease. It wreaked havoc on my body, and all of a sudden I was super weak and could no longer work out. It got so bad that two years after my diagnosis, I had to quit my job as a school teacher and then in 2014, I took a year off to heal. We founded Sweet Laurel in 2015 because I realized that after working with medical doctors and seeing no results, I needed to do something deeper. So, I turned to healing through food, as well as changing my lifestyle, my diet, and my stress levels, and I literally healed my body from the inside out. I was also getting tons of information from looking at the way my body was reacting to certain inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy, soy, and refined sugar. That’s why my body couldn’t heal. When I took those foods out and removed grains, sugar, soy, legumes, the inflammation went down so much that I was able to finally heal. Then about a year into healing, I realized there were no baked goods for people on grain-free, refined sugar-free, and dairy-free diets. I was having to cook all my own food, thinking why aren’t there any clean options out there?! So that’s when the idea for Sweet Laurel was born. I founded it with my business partner Claire, who I had made a house warming cake for. It was our Chocolate Caramel Cake and she was totally obsessed, and when I told her what was in it, she joked that it was basically a salad! She came on as creative director/brand manager after she convinced me that we could create this brand. And the rest is history!
3. What do your daily meals look like?
I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, tons of them! At the moment breakfast is probably a smoothie. I also snack a lot mainly because I’m nursing, and right now my favorite snack is tahini with carrots or sweet potato. I’m totally addicted! I like to pair a good fat with fruits and vegetables, like avocados, seed butters, etc. Dinner usually starts with me making a bunch of veg, then working in a protein: eggs, ground turkey, or fish. The main rule in my house is no gluten!
4. What is the most popular item at Sweet Laurel?
Our Power Brownies are very popular. They’re under 200 calories, with 12g of protein and only 4 net carbs. We also have a Vegan Keto Cake that has blown every other cake out of the water this year. You can’t tell it’s keto; it’s chocolate cake with coconut whipped cream and sprinkled with cacao. Whenever I go to the shop, I ask for a slice of it!
5. Congratulations on your 2nd baby, how is life with two?!
Its crazy! It’s so hard. I don’t know how anyone has more! We’re trying to play catch up and there’s no way I could do it if I didn’t have people helping me in both my business and home life. I’ve also been empowering my team at Sweet Laurel, trying to delegate more. And my husband is such a team player. Always helping, with the best attitude.
6. What kind of self-care do you manage to sneak into your busy schedule?
Dry-brushing is big for me. I do it before showering every evening. I have an infrared sauna and a steam sauna too. I have a condition called MTFHR, which means your body has issues detoxing (I detox at 40% of a normal person). So, a good sweat is really important to me, especially right now as I can’t do crazy cardio (post-partum). I also love if I can squeeze in a 40 min walk for the fresh air.
7. What’s your favorite workout?
Platefit. It’s amazing. I also used to be Pilates instructor so I also do lots of Pilates at home.
8. Your house (#sweetlaurelcottage) looks absolutely gorgeous, can you tell us a bit about the project, and did you design it all yourself?!
Claire being the brand visionary that she is, when I told her we were buying this house, she was like ‘we are going to make this a thing’! She was great at leveraging the brand and getting other brands to work with us, so as a baker we got the best appliances in the world. The kitchen is killer because that’s where I work a lot of the time. We use it as a shooting location for Sweet Laurel, and we create a lot of content there, so the cottage lives and breathes the brand. It’s also in line with everything I love: flowers, natural light, gardens, and history. I’m a total nerd and an 80-year-old at heart; I collect fine china and love wallpaper. I pull a lot of inspo from the UK and its culture, and you can find me reading royal history books in my spare time!
9. What is your favorite room in your house and why?
I honestly love the kitchen. It has so much light and has this seating nook that’s my favorite seat in the house. It’s where I nurse most the time and I love it!
10. You’re obviously an amazing baker, but are there any chefs or cookbooks you look to regularly for ideas?
From a business perspective, I love Candice Nelson. What she did with Sprinkles is amazing. She’s my mentor and always giving me great advice and inspiring me.
I don’t actually use cookbooks anymore, though I used to. I taught myself to cook by avidly reading Cook’s Illustrated, but now I kind of just freehand it, because I understand the principles of food and cooking. I was never properly trained, but my style of baking is literally made up and doesn’t follow the rules, so I can kind of get away with that!
11. What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs with similar aspirations?
First thing I would say is do something that you love and makes you thrive. And secondly, have an open mind. One of the things I’ve learned is the more flexible you are and the more able you are to accept and welcome other peoples’ ideas, the more successful you actually can be. Yes, you do need a vision, but you need to be moldable to be able to lead. Because it can’t be ‘my way or the highway’! So have your vision but listen and learn, and welcome in other people and their ideas.
12. What’s next for Sweet Laurel?
We are working on Sweet Laurel Savory which is our savory cookbook. It will contain recipes for breads, flatbreads, main dishes, and sides (all baked). It will also have recipes from our childhood. Claire has included some great Aussie-inspired dishes, and I have put in some Greek-inspired dishes too. Besides that, we are trying to get Sweet Laurel into Wholefoods which is very exciting. The aim is to get our product to the mass market as I want to reach as many people as possible with Sweet Laurel!
To snag yourself a copy of the original Sweet Laurel Cookbook click here.