Susan Sarich, owner of SusieCakes, with a cake

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By Lindsay Lennon

When two-time Oscar nominee Margot Robbie turned 32 on the set of Barbie—the upcoming movie in which she stars as the iconic doll—the cast and crew celebrated with what Glamour called “the Barbie birthday party we all begged our parents for when we were little.”

The highlight of Robbie’s bash was a glittery, hot-pink cake—topped with an actual Barbie, cascading blonde locks and all.

The creator of that whimsical confection? SusieCakes, the popular chain of bakeries founded by Hotelie Susan Sarich ’91.

The tempting confections at one of the chain’s 26 locations.

Since 2006, Sarich—who was named to Forbes’s “50 Over 50: Lifestyle” list in 2022, alongside Dolly Parton and Martha Stewart—has grown SusieCakes from a single Los Angeles storefront to 26 locations throughout California and Texas.

From her homestyle chocolate chip cookies to the coconutty 7-Layer Bars she baked live on “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” Sarich’s indulgent desserts have made SusieCakes synonymous with sweet occasions for her loyal fanbase.

Prices range from around $3.50 for a cookie or cupcake to about $65 for a standard nine-inch cake, with more elaborately crafted creations also on the menu.

A birthday cake decorated with multicolored confetti and the number 10
A custom-designed Vanilla Celebration cake.

Sarich’s recipes—with butter, flour, sugar, and eggs comprising her core ingredients—were passed down to her on index cards by her grandmothers, Mildred and Madeline, who served her freshly baked treats in their Chicago kitchens when she was a child.

SusieCakes’ bestseller is the Vanilla Celebration, a decadent six-layer tower of rainbow confetti cake and buttercream icing.

A go-to for birthdays, it’s usually frosted light blue, but is often decorated in a range of bespoke designs, from flowers to animals to sports themes.

It was the dessert of choice for Demi Lovato’s birthday party, where the Grammy-nominated singer blew out the candles on a four-tiered cake decorated in swirls of black, red, and silver inspired by her latest album.

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Pop icon Katy Perry also rang in her birthday with SusieCakes while guest-hosting “Ellen,” where she was presented with four rainbow confetti-enveloped cakes—one for each letter of her first name—and the audience was treated to cupcakes.

But before Sarich was a cakemaker to the stars, she launched the business as a back-to-basics shop for the food-conscious parent who doesn’t have the time or know-how to bake from scratch.

“I think everybody likes our products because they remind them of simpler times and their childhood,” Sarich told Mario Lopez on “Access Daily” in May 2022. “It brings you back right away when you have a bite of it.”

An L.A. Times blog offered similar sentiments in 2008, calling SusieCakes “a neighborhood spot that caters to a quieter crowd of locals with a taste for the contents that fill (or used to fill) their grandmothers’ cookie jars.”

Six years ago, SusieCakes expanded into Texas, and in 2022 began selling its products online—offering three flavors of six-inch cakes to customers nationwide via overnight shipping.

An assortment of cupcakes
Red velvet, Vanilla Celebration, and “old-fashioned chocolate” mini cupcakes.

They’re the same products sold fresh in the bakeries, but shipped frozen—the method Sarich used to let the Cornellians staff sample her wares. (The flavor we requested? Red velvet, of course!)

Before launching SusieCakes, Sarich worked for Hyatt Hotels, was recruited by the famous House of Blues in Chicago, and co-founded a Zagat-rated bistro in Portland, OR.

She founded the bakery, she says, “around the principle that you don’t need to work 24/7 to be successful”—aiming to offer work-life balance in the food world, known for high pressure and grueling hours. (That means SusieCakes stores are closed on major holidays, plus for three days after Christmas.)

Sarich with some of her 300+ employees.

Her staff, she says, is 85% female, many of them primary caregivers—just like Sarich’s grandmothers, whose recipes started it all.

“What better way to honor them,” observes Sarich, “than building a business for women to have progressive careers in food service, without having to sacrifice their family lives?”

All images provided.

Published January 26, 2023


  1. Lars, Class of 1972

    Great story. Am waiting for one to open in central Florida.

    • Jenny Sung, Class of 1994

      What a great story! And one of women supporting women in the work force! Thank you, Susie! My husband and I love your cakes and it was great to see that you are an alumni! We get our at the Lafayette store!

    • Karyn Ginsberg, Class of 1991

      Congrats to you! What a great story.

  2. Savitha Rammohan, Class of 2008


  3. Amy Fendrich Graff, Class of 1981

    What a great tribute to a woman’s success, doing what she loves to do, and supporting other women in the process! Thank you

    • Tom Zarembinski, Class of 1987

      Awesome story. I can’t wait try her desserts.

  4. marlene, Class of 2001

    Awesome!! I can’t wait to try one next time I’m in CA!

  5. Matt Tager, Class of 1983

    Everything she bakes is delicious. I was lucky enough to attend an alumni diner where dessert was several razor think slices of towering layer cakes. Now I have a store just a couple of blocks from my home.
    Glad to hear she is also providing a nurturing livable work environment.

  6. Chizuru Nakamoto, Class of 1996

    What a intriguing and specutacular article to read, I truly felt.
    Thank you, indeed. Work balance and life balance aspects and various circumstances of women’ work here should be more and more paid attention to, in fact, in
    various industries including food and entertaining businesses etc., too.

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