By Mandy Holmes / Photo by Claudia Johnstone
Nicole Pepin creates desserts that are almost too pretty to eat. With scrumptious treats that are truly
mini works of art, the entrepreneur and self-taught
baking enthusiast is making life a little sweeter with
her custom confectionary company, Layla Bean Cakery
Named after her 14-year-old dog Layla Bean, who Pepin says is sweeter than any cupcake, she adds that “Layla’s spunky spirit is a daily reminder to be happy and spread love, which I try to reflect in my baking.”
It wasn’t until after college – and a 10-year career working in trust tax – that cake decorating become Pepin’s hobby of choice. Seeing the happiness she brought to others made it apparent that she wanted to consider a venture that allowed her to share her confectionary appetite with the world.
“I’m not just selling cupcakes,” Pepin says. “It’s evolved into a lifestyle brand where I am connected to the community and partner with other like-minded entrepreneurs who share a similar creative vision.”
Each treat Pepin creates is handmade from scratch with all-natural ingredients, providing a home-style quality taste and professional presentation. From dessert tables and wedding cakes to personalized cookies, cake pops and edible printing, each item is beautiful and unique.
“I look at each new order as an opportunity to be a part of someone’s happiest milestones in life, such as birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and graduations – all of which are sweetened with a little slice of cake I put my heart into.”
While Pepin creates her delicacies from home, she offers cake-decorating classes throughout the Valley, including at Pinspiration, as well as private workshops for parties and events in addition to providing sweets for any occasion.
“Deciding to follow a dream and start a business has been the most courageous thing I’ve ever done,” Pepin says. “It’s hard work, but I’m a tough cookie and I’m proud of that. Nothing can shake the sprinkles off this cupcake!”
The future of Layla Bean Cakery is sweet; the entrepreneur has a dessert blog, cookbook and YouTube channel in the works.
“I plan to take whatever ingredients life throws at me and write my own recipe for success.”
By Mandy Holmes / Photo by Claudia Johnstone
From baby steps to wedding bells and everything in-between, seasoned entrepreneur Mark Rukavina knows a thing or two about creating memories to last a lifetime.
Originally from Colorado, Rukavina graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in marketing and has called Arizona home ever since. He is the founder and CEO of iMemories (www.imemories.com), a national brand with Scottsdale roots that specializes in converting older camcorder videotapes, home movie films, photos, slides and negatives into a modern digital format so they can be enjoyed utilizing current technology.
As the world turned to digital photos and videos, Rukavina recognized that decades of priceless family milestones were trapped on outdated and obsolete formats.
“With my background in product and technology design, I knew I could build a company that provided exactly what people wanted: An effortless and affordable way to convert their older family memories to a modern digital format so they can be easily viewed and shared on any modern device or social network.”
Inspired by technology executives like Steve Jobs, Rukavina’s passion for building tech companies from the ground up and experiencing every phase of company growth support his mission in a technology-filled world.
“As the CEO of iMemories, I wear many hats, but my favorite job is to design innovative products and technology and use best-in-class marketing to sell them,” Rukavina says.
The fact that iMemories’ products touch people’s hearts in a deep and profound way is particularly rewarding to Rukavina. “Each and every day, customers nationwide go on about the joy, laughter and nostalgia they’ve experienced reliving decades of family memories they’ve rediscovered through iMemories, most of which they had forgotten about or have never seen.”
With three tech companies under his belt, Rukavina is focusing on elevating the iMemories user experience with a new suite of web and mobile apps.
“iMemories just moved into a brand-new, state-of-the-art facility in Scottsdale so we can handle even more scale,” Rukavina says. “With more than 1 billion home movies and 1 trillion photos to digitize, we have a lot of work to do!”