The 7,000-sq.-ft., two-story bakery with 1,500 sq. ft. of refrigerator space is devoted exclusively to wholesale production, quite a departure from Lockhart's 18-plus years as a retail bakery and cafe operator. She enlisted Lance Paine, vice president of business development, and Brad Winnaman, vice president of operations, to help grow Sweet Lady Jane's wholesale production and distribution.
Both had worked for La Brea Bakery as it transitioned to a wholesale operation. Paine had actually learned about Sweet Lady Jane while he was investigating acquisition candidates for La Brea. He became convinced that Sweet Lady Jane had similar growth potential because of its reputation in Southern California.
"His company [La Brea] decided that it wanted to go more in a frozen desserts direction, but Lance decided that he still wanted to pursue Sweet Lady Jane," Lockhart said. "He put together a business plan, made a business proposal, and decided that he believed in our product."
After the tedious process of selecting a bakery, meeting building codes and installing equipment, Sweet Lady Jane's production immediately spiked. The increased output made Sweet Baby Jane's brand attractive to high-end grocers in the L.A. area.
"We are going into Gelson's [supermarket] in its Century City location first. If that goes well, we will go into several other Gelson's too," Lockhart said.
"Our future plans are to expand into frozen cakes," she added. "We are experimenting with a select number of cakes for that purpose, and we're hoping to get them into executive dining rooms and high-end restaurants too."
While the once exclusive client list, including the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Kobe Bryant, appears to be expanding to include the masses, Lockhart says her bakery's quality products will not change. She is committed to replicating the handmade appeal that has set her baked products apart.