How RubySnap’s owner went from architecture to baking
Sep 30, 2019 02:40PM
By Justin Adams
Tami Steggell, the founder of RubySnap, at her bakery on 770 South 300 West in Salt Lake City. (provided by Tami Steggell/RubySnap)
By Hannah LaFond | [email protected]
RubySnap may now be a Utah favorite, but for many years it was just a daydream.
Before she opened her now successful bakery, Millcreek local Tami Steggell worked as an architectural designer with a passion for cycling. How do you go from bicycles to cookies? Well, for Steggell it was a fairly natural progression. Even while she was seriously training, she always had a love for sweets and baked goods.
“I always called myself the chubby athlete. Because I would try to eat really clean during the week for training. I started creating treats that were worthy of my free days,” Steggelll said.
Instead of buying baked goods she didn't find satisfying, she began developing her own recipes to satisfy her sweet tooth. This also helped her as an architectural designer. She would often make cookies to help build up a relationship with her clients. But after Sept. 11, 2001, the architecture industry suffered quite a bit and it became harder for Steggell to support her family in the career she'd had for years.
She decided to take a chance and see if the public liked her recipes as much as she and her clients had.
Steggell credits her landlord for being a big support when she started out. Before she took the final leap to open her bakery, her landlord caught her peeking in the window of his building, which would eventually become RubySnap. When he asked if she wanted to rent the building she said, “No, I’m just daydreaming and daydreaming is free.” But he said he wanted to help with that dream and gave her the first three months on the building for free.
She didn’t want to go into debt, so she cashed out $ 10,000, which was all her savings, and used that as her starting point, rather than taking out a loan.
It turned out the public did love her recipes, and RubySnap took off right away, growing 40% each year for the first 10 years.
“I feel like Utah is a really good breeding ground for helping one another. I found that other small business owners weren’t competitive with you, they were supportive,” Steggell said.
Now she tries to support other budding entrepreneurs the way she was. And she also strives to give back to the community that has supported her through RubySnap's donation program.
Despite Rubysnap's obvious success, there were some bumps along the way. Eighteen months into opening the bakery, Pillsbury sued for the name, which at the time was Dough Girl. Steggell originally named the bakery Dough Girl as an homage to women air service pilots in World War II who were nicknamed the dough girls.
Instead of fighting Pillsbury on the name Steggell decided to rebrand. She still wanted the name to reference her favorite era, the 1940s, so Steggell took a popular name and phrase from the time to create the now iconic RubySnap.
“All I care about is baking,” she said. “I can get a new name.”
Her love of the 1940s, which she truly believes is the greatest generation, can also be seen in decorations in the RubySnap Bakery. More than that Steggell said she tries to emulate the way people pulled together in the 1940s through her company’s culture and message.
RubySnap cookies are available at the bakery at 770 South 300 West in Salt Lake City, as well as at Smith’s Marketplaces in Lehi, Daybreak and Park City.
“We’ve had lots of opportunities to grow really fast, but we just wanted to control our growth. I was a mother and I wanted to be a mom, I wanted that to be my priority. I kept my original promise to myself and my family to make sure I had plenty of time for them.”
However, now that her children are grown up, Steggell plans to expand RubySnap at a faster rate. So, you might be looking forward to more readily available RubySnap cookies in the future.