Erin Parsons, a creative baker at SLO Donut Co. (SLODOCO), is reinventing the traditional donut.
Parsons wasn’t always the creative genius behind the sweet treats. She started out at SLODOCO in the front of the shop, serving donuts and making coffee for customers. She was curious about the process involved in baking donuts and she suggested the idea of a weekly donut flavor to her boss in August of 2015 after working at the shop for a year.
“It started out with a new frosting or two and then [my boss] kept allowing me to do even more,” Parsons said. “Now I have a whole position where I’m creating a monthly menu of seasonal specials.”
Parsons assembled a three-person creative baking team that is constantly brainstorming different ideas for unique donut flavors.
Aside from creating recipes that will be regulars on the menu, the team is responsible for producing the monthly donut menu. This November, specials include a pumpkin pie cake donut, a gingerbread cake donut and an eggnog raised donut.
The creative baking team starts their shift at 5 a.m. every day to ensure the specials are decorated and ready in time for the morning rush.
Political science senior Kelli Normand has worked at SLODOCO for two years and said that she has seen an increase in business since the shop’s donut selection has grown.
“There’s almost always a line now,” Normand said. “Sometimes it’s hard to keep up as an employee because every month we have different donuts so it’s pretty insane to try and remember all of them.”
One of Parsons’ most popular creations is a Circus Animal cookie donut, which originated from a grocery store errand run.
“I had $10 and I wanted to get five ingredients to try in different donuts,” Parsons said. “Circus Animal cookies was one of the things I grabbed and people got really excited about
Other recent additions to SLODOCO’s menu include the doffle (a donut-waffle hybrid) and vegan donuts.
“I think there’s been more interest from customers when they come in,” Parsons said. “They want to see what’s different, what’s new and they’re excited to talk about each flavor.”
Graphic communication senior Alyssa Wigant is a SLODOCO regular and visits the shop at least three times a week to study and socialize.
“I love their vibes,” Wigant said. “I think SLODOCO is becoming the Central Coast’s Voodoo Doughnut with their creative, new flavors.”
Parsons also uses her creativity to connect with customers on social media. Aside from baking, she’s in charge of marketing and media operations at SLODOCO and has been responsible for revamping the store’s presence on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
“I really enjoy exploring customers’ connection with social media and different forms of customer outreach,” Parsons said. “Business growth as a whole is something I’m very interested in.”