Kimberly Koch has plied her trade in the confection business in Camas for a baker’s dozen … 13 years. With a new storefront on 4th Avenue downtown, she now has the cherry on top of her sweet story.
As she explains it, getting truly scrumptious to this point in her career is a “long, winding story … I always loved to bake and cook, but never thought about baking professionally and followed the traditional route of college and so forth. When I was 30, my beloved father passed away in an auto accident … he was only 57 … and my entire outlook on life changed. I knew I must not waste the opportunity to live with intent and joy.”
That’s when she walked into a bagel shop in Lake Oswego and asked for a job. The owner asked her if she’d ever baked professionally, which she had not, and he said to her, “Good, you won’t have any bad habits.”
After months of waking up at 3:30 a.m., being at work by 4:30 a.m. (a rough go for a self-admitted non-morning person) she still had a pep in her step. “I was happy every single day. So I knew this was the thing for me. Needless to say, it took many more years to start my business. Twelve to be exact. And another 12 years to open my new shop. I am a tortoise, slow and steady as they say.”
That business, Truly Scrumptious, is all about baking and celebrations with a side of sweet retail. And for those fans of Truly Scrumptious, you have Megan Lutz and the Lutz family to thank. Kimberly said the Lutz family “are obviously a cornerstone business, with the hardware store in Camas as well as multi-generational residents. They showed me the deep family and community roots of Camas and I fell in love with this town too, moving my family here nine years ago. Just in time for my twins to start kindergarten at Dorothy Fox Elementary.”
Seeking out her own storefront operation was a challenge. Finding the “door” was the most difficult. “I knew I wanted a small space in my beloved Downtown Camas. Waiting years and years for a space felt a little torturous but it was the right thing to do for me and my family. I wish there were many more small spaces available (for other businesses), it would allow for greater retail diversity without such huge financial risk.”
She said the biggest challenge to date has been Covid-19 restrictions and transforming a neglected, nearly 100-year-old building into a safe, clean and health-code compliant space.
“I was offered the space on December 18th, 2019. The previous tenant moved out the first week of March 2020, I signed my lease the second week of March and then everything closed down and we couldn’t begin working on the renovation until July of 2020. Every aspect of the space needed attention, electrical, water, walls, floors, patching original plaster, drywall, leaks then re-patching and priming and painting and more painting again.”
She said it’s been tough, something anyone with an older home or retail space would know. “Respecting the charm of the past and honoring the current rules and laws are difficult to weave together,” she said. “As in anything worth doing, hard work and perseverance are essential. If it were easy, everyone would do it.”
A common trait among her Camas customers is the pleasant nature. “Rarely have I had an unhappy customer,” she said. “I meet people planning weddings, birthdays and get to share in the many special times in their lives. They walk in happy, and it can only go up from there when adding treats to the mix. I am in the butter and sugar business and people like treats, it is really that simple.”
Kimberly has a saying which serves her well … “I hope to exceed your expectations and should I fall short, as I am human, I ask for the opportunity to make things right.” She said it keeps her striving for better and gives her customers the ability to be honest and open about their experience with her. “Above all, I genuinely care for the people I meet, they are my neighbors and many have become very good friends.”
A few questions she gets asked all the time:
“1. Did I go to pastry school? No, I picked up a cookbook as a kid and taught myself. I still love to read cookbooks.
2. What is my favorite treat? Gibassier. If you know … you know!
3. What is my favorite thing to bake? Cookies, I really have such an affinity for the humble cookie.”
Kimberly said she is “truly blessed” to do what she loves. “It’s hard work, but when done with a joyful heart it brings so much satisfaction. Remember this … not all of us like the same chocolate chip cookie, some like soft ones, some like crispy, some like nuts, some like milk chocolate chips. The point is, I believe fully that there is ‘room at the table for everyone’ and if you have a dream of baking or making, there is a place for your dream to happen. I promise it will be difficult, you will work harder than you ever have and you will never be more proud of yourself. You are neither too old nor too young to try. The world needs what you have to offer and someone is looking for YOUR chocolate chip cookie.”
To pick up a sweet treat, visit Kimberly at 231 NE 4th Ave.