What started as a simple kitchen experiment has turned StC junior Patteson Branch ‘25 into the head of a booming baking enterprise. Branch is the founder of PAC Sweets
, a small but rapidly growing operation he runs out of his house.
PAC Sweets has its roots in 2020’s statewide quarantine. Confined to his home, Branch decided to try a new indoor hobby by baking a simple white cake in his parents’ kitchen. “It was just a cool, creative process,” said Branch. “I became kind of obsessed and started making new stuff every day.” Following his first attempt, Branch slowly scaled his operation up, selling or gifting small amounts of baked goods to friends and neighbors.
Things in the kitchen began to churn, and Branch’s first big break came in May 2022, when he baked a cake for an Upper School advisory event. According to Branch, the bakery is booked solid through Christmas. "Now, I’m making multiple cakes a week. I think we’ve baked somewhere around 200, maybe 250,” Branch said.
PAC Sweets is truly a small family operation. Branch started the business with his younger sister, a student at St. Catherine’s, and his younger brother, Charlie Branch ‘29. “My little brother just quit, actually. He didn’t like the long hours,” said Patteson.
The Branch siblings work out of their home, and it isn’t unusual to see 25-pound bags of sugar and other bulk baking supplies stored around the house. Each cake takes about 4-5 hours to complete, so the business has had to adapt as demand grows. Now, Branch concentrates on cake decoration and the business side of the operation, delegating the baking duty to his sister. “I keep the books, I manage the social media,” said Branch. “It’s taught me a lot about business and managing costs. If I see cheap butter, for example, I buy it immediately!”
While Branch loves the process of baking and running a small business, one of his favorite things about running PAC Sweets is making new friends and connections. Since its founding, the junior has baked cakes for weddings, a Women of Wrestling Cancer fundraising event, StC’s Fall Festival, a party welcoming new Saints parents, the Imaging Unit of St. Mary’s Hospital and a local nonprofit, UP RVA. “One of the most fulfilling parts of doing all this is teaming up with and meeting new people in the community. It’s a very rewarding experience,” said Branch.
Baking is a lot of work, and the junior spends his days balancing school, a social life, preparing for college and running PAC Sweets. “There are a lot of late nights, 1 a.m. nights. I’m up until midnight sometimes because I’m balancing school and PAC Sweets. It’s helped teach me a lot about time management,” said Branch.
Branch has enjoyed launching PAC Sweets, but he’s also looking forward to new adventures. People often ask him what the future holds for his family business, considering college is just around the corner. “When I leave for school, my sister’s going to take over,” said Branch. “I’m going to focus on my studies at that point, but this is a fun hobby. And I’ll never have to worry about buying someone a birthday cake again.”