Vegan Baking with Just What I Kneaded
Justine Hernandez, an entrepreneur who built Just What I Kneaded back in 2017, sat down with us and helped uncover one of LA's vegan hidden bakery.
Justine Hernandez wears The Rigid Dad Jean in Medium Denim 
(She added a cute addition to give it a
scissor cut/frayed hem look at the bottom!)

We are big fans of Just What I Kneaded. Tell us more about what led you to open your own bakery!


 Just What I kneaded is an evolution of my journey and obsession with vegan baking that started with testing recipes in my home kitchen in Highland Park.  There were so many wonky batches of cookies and mushy brownies, but I really wanted to crack the vegan code. Baking vegan is still my way of combating climate change with hopes of inspiring other bakers to ditch milk, butter, and eggs.  I started selling to a few local spots in Highland park that were very patient with my experiments (thank you Little Ripper and K&M Coffee). It was a rocky start but I really wanted to mimic the flake and texture of dairy pastries, just make them vegan. I had no idea there would be such a demand and that I would gain so much support from my community. After lots of pop-ups and weird late-night kitchen rentals, I opened my brick-and-mortar here in Frogtown in June 2020.  

 Who in your industry inspires you currently and why?

I’m inspired by young women who are doing their own thing in LA despite the challenges we face. Women like Jen from Bakers Bench who makes the most delicious vegan baked everything. Mo from Kindness and Mischief is always looking to support women and their food dreams and has been a shining example of how to empower women throughout her own cafe journey. I’m also really inspired by our chef Simone Schlanger who has such a passion for food, flavor, and texture and somehow never seems to freak out. I look up to all of these women.  

What do you love the most and least about working for yourself? 

 Oof! So many in both directions. Let’s see, I’d have to say I love being able to curate my work day. I like that I don’t have to check in with anyone when I have a creative idea or a burst of energy to make a new cake or cookie. I’m not a fan of hearing no, so being my own boss is great for that. The thing I like the least is the stress. Sometimes it’s lonely working for yourself because you’re the only one that really has the power to make changes or big decisions and that can be hard!  


What is your favorite custom cake you've made so far at Just What I Kneaded? 


We’ve made so many custom cakes and the bakery has an amazing team that always comes up with the most incredible and creative designs. Personally one of my favorite cakes I’ve ever made was for a book release. The book is called ”Cultish” written by Amanda Montell and I did all these psychedelic, thick, groovy , multicolor buttercream lines that looked borderline melty. It was awesome, matched the cover, and most importantly our client was happy!


What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business?  


Surround yourself with supportive friends. You’re going to need a coven of amazing people to lift you up when you’re down and shine a light when you’re lost. I couldn’t do this job without my people. That, an unwavering curiosity, and borderline obsession with what it is you’re wanting to create.



What's next for Just What I Kneaded? 


Just What I Kneaded is working on distributing its giant chocolate chunk cookies to stores, cafes, and wine markets near you. We are also working on a speakeasy/restaurant / wine bar behind our bakery with hopes to open in 2023. Nite Bread will have an awesome nighttime dinner menu, natural wine, and of course baked desserts.  


What do you love about your Just Black Denim jeans?


I love that they are so stretchy and perfect for working in the kitchen. There’s some give to the fabric but the fit is so stylish, so if I have to leave straight from work I can still look cute out in the world. I also love how they fit around my hips, which are curvy, without being uncomfortable or too tight. It’s so hard to find pants/ jeans that I love and feel good in. The rigid dad jean is the new favorite that I have been wearing every day, just ask our chef!


The Rigid Dad Jean in Medium Denim 
November 11, 2022