Photo credit: Jaclyn Le
How It All Started
When Amanda Nguyen’s nephew turned 100 days old after struggling to keep his weight up, the whole family wanted to celebrate and asked Amanda to take care of the cake. Cake is built into American culture, so she figured this would be easy. But as she looked around, she struggled to find what she wanted: something modern instead of old-fashioned and flavor-driven instead of overly sweet. She was the kind of person always baking in her free time, whether it was bread or croissants, macarons or cinnamon buns, so she decided she would just do it herself. She pulled something together in time for the party – but she knew it could be better. So, after she got home each night from work, she started to meticulously research her recipes and hone her decorating techniques.
Going for It
As Amanda honed her craft, she made cakes for family birthdays. Then friends who came to those birthdays started asking for cakes. Then friends of those friends said they were even willing to pay for her to make cakes for them. Before long, she had more cake orders than she could handle, pulling all-nighters before heading into work for the day. Eventually, it came time for a decision – should she give up her steady job as a data analyst at Facebook, or should she start denying cake orders? Her mom, who came to the country with nothing from Vietnam, worked so hard at her hair salon so that Amanda could get a steady office job one day. But Amanda realized there was no better time in life to take a risk – she would just have to create that steady job herself.
Ethical Employment // Design for All
It was clear that design would be a part of Butter&’s mission from the very beginning. It’s what the team would rally around – to make good design more accessible for all the beautiful moments our clients were celebrating. But what surprised Amanda as she dug into the food industry was how unsustainable it was. She saw workers structured as contractors so that they could be let go at a moment’s notice, people with no health care and years without raises, chefs who were emotionally (and even sometimes physically) abusive and had no idea how to manage, and many working multiple jobs with no weekends just to make ends meet. That’s when Amanda realized that Butter& needed another half to its mission – something that we would need our clients to rally around: ethical employment. It’s why Butter& is committed to structuring our workers as employees, paying above minimum wage, providing high quality health care, giving employees a piece of the company so they can plan for the future, doing weekly one-on-ones for personal and professional development, and offering free lunch in the kitchen for easy meals. These things come at a cost, but it’s how we create a better world together. Thank you for joining us and supporting us on this journey!