Ali Forny

Out On Top

Inspired by near-death experience, powerful mothers, chocolate chip cookies, vibrant colors and the Welsh military, the out women behind ten successful businesses are proving that entrepreneurship is a combination of savvy, coincidence, and inexhaustible passion. Presenting the power of ten lesbian-run businesses out on top and rising.
Citizen Cake: Elizabeth Faulkner

As a child, Elizabeth Faulkner wasn’t satisfied with the state of her chocolate chip cookies. “I got really obsessed,” she said. “I started making my own recipes. I was always trying to tweak it a little, make it better every time.” When she began creating cakes as a professional chef, she was as unsatisfied with the round, traditional look of them as she was with her original chocolate chip cookies. “I was always transforming the cakes into more sculptural pieces. At some point I thought, this is crazy, somebody’s gotta’ open a pastry shop in San Francisco.”

So Faulkner did: Citizen Cake. In the nine years it’s been open, Citizen Cake’s artistic, modern approach to old classics has garnered the attention of the Food Network, Gourmet, and the James Beard Foundation. One food critic wrote, “please, let me stop raving about this place, it’s embarrassing.”

“Making food and building restaurants is kind of like creating scenes,” Faulkner said. One mouth-watering restaurant event featured half-naked women dipped in chocolate from the waist-up. “I love eating in a place where from the first course to the last course, I don’t feel like a pig, I feel like I’ve had a symphony of ideas.” Faulkner laughs. “I’m much more of a rock band musician than the conductor of a symphony.”

Last year, Faulkner’s traditional HRC auction item—cooking dinner for 20 guests—went for $26,000, earning her the Charles M. Holmes award. Delicious.

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