The Sweet Life
by Jenny Bradley
photographs by Taylor Peden and Jen Munkvold
Chocolate dipped figs. Peppermint bark. Mint petits fours. There may not be sugarplums on the menu, but Valerie Gordon's holiday repertoire wholeheartedly embraces the season - and its traditions. After all, it's these traditions that spurred Valerie and partner Stan Weightman Jr. to found Valerie Confections seven years ago.
"For our first holiday together, Stan and I created an array of delectable gifts, developing recipes and packaging specifically for family and friends," says Valerie. "This love of gifting started Valerie Confections."
Today, Valerie finds a sense of joy every time she steps inside the pocket-sized bakery she's nurtured into one of the top artisan chocolateries in the country. Located in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, the venue - a Willy Wonka-wothy destination for any sweet tooth - is filled to the brim with sweet treats and decadent holiday confections. It's a place, Valerie says warmly, "that feels like home."
"I found a lot of inspiration in old Hollywood movies," she says. "Sabrina, starring Audrey Hepburn, was an integral part of the mood board during the developmental days of Valerie Confections. And our collection of vintage desserts is an homage to the fairy-tale lore of Hollywood."
No matter the inspiration, Valerie has found that her career lends itself to some special mother-son traditions as well. "Every morning, my son, August, and i start the day with a cookie," she says. "He has a cup of milk, and I have a cup of coffee as we plan the day."