Nothing Bundt success for local bakery owner

Mara Fortin owns seven Nothing Bundt Cakes locations, including bakeries in Pacific Highlands Ranch and Del Mar.
(Karen Billing)

Carmel Valley resident Mara Fortin recently celebrated the 10-year anniversary of her first Nothing Bundt Cakes bakery. Fortin opened her first bakery in Poway in 2007 as the company’s first-ever franchisee. Ten years later she owns seven bakeries, including locations in Del Mar’s Flower Hill Promenade and The Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch in Carmel Valley.

Fortin likes to say she is not in the business of selling cakes but in the business of relationships, of family and celebrations and of people coming together.

“After 10 years, we’re a household name and the go-to place for desserts,” Fortin said. “We’re embedded in people’s lives, we’re a part of people’s celebrations and remembrances. I love it so much.”

Dena Tripp and Debbie Shwetz founded Nothing Bundt Cakes in 1998 in Las Vegas, where Fortin was living at the time and had a very busy life as a medical malpractice attorney. She walked away from the “ridiculous hours” and began crafting a recipe for a new life in her native San Diego, drawing on her undergraduate degree in business. She convinced the owners to let her be a franchisee.

Fortin vividly remembers being in the parking lot by her new Poway location in 2007 and listening as a couple of men walked by and seemed baffled by her bakery, wondering “Only bundt cakes? That’s it? What’s a bundt cake?” Many people told her she would be out of business in a year.

“Everyone was very skeptical. But I knew how great the product was,” Fortin said. “The product is just amazing. It’s so beautiful to walk into the bakeries, it’s so warm and inviting and I just knew in my heart I was going to be a game-changer for the dessert market in San Diego and now with seven bakeries, that’s what we’ve done.

“Dessert has taken on a whole new life and it’s exciting to me to have played an integral part of completing that vision.”

Fortin went on to open bakeries in Chula Vista, Carlsbad, San Marcos, Santee and Mission Valley, the location that continues to be the top two bakery in California.

She opened the Flower Hill Promenade location in 2009 and the Pacific Highlands Ranch location last year, which she said has been a “perfect fit.”

Since opening the bakery she has become a Pacific Highlands Ranch resident and her daughters attend school locally with Kendall at Pacific Trails Middle School and Karyn at Ashley Falls Elementary School. Many a school event has been gifted with bundt cakes and Karyn’s fifth grade class came to visit the bakery and got a lesson on the business — and cream cheese frosting.

Fortin also makes efforts to give back to the community through partnerships with Rady Children’s Hospital and Susan B. Komen of San Diego, donating thousands of cakes a year.

“To my customers, thank you for believing in us,” Fortin said. “Without my customers in San Diego, I’m not at seven bakeries. It’s really because of them that I’ve been able to grow.”