LIVERMORE, Calif. -- Every morning, Aimee Wingen wakes up at 3:30 a.m. to start baking.
She and her husband, Bryan Wingen, recently opened Wingen Bakery in Livermore. The smells of bread, bagels, and pastries beckon visitors to venture inside and order homemade items in a space that embodies memories and hope.
During a difficult period for the Wingen family, Aimee and Bryan coped by baking.
"We both come from restaurant backgrounds and started baking more during COVID-19. We were at home with our daughter who was terminally ill, so baking became a comfort for us," said Aimee.
First starting as a cottage bakery, the Wingens built momentum by selling from their home and at Farmers Markets. This allowed the husband-and-wife team to take care of their daughter, Waylynn, who was born with a rare genetic disorder called, Zellweger Syndrome. She passed away at just 8 months old.
"We did everything we could to care for her, but we still needed to take care of ourselves," said Aimee. "And for me, that was baking and doing something with my hands and enjoying the process of making something and having a final product. So that was really therapeutic for me."
Bryan adds, "We just got to enjoy being with our daughter. She would sit there with us and watch her mom bake. And it was a very, very romantic time. Even though we were in a very hard situation, it was just our little family gathered together."
After Waylynn passed, the Wingens took a brief break from baking but returned stronger than ever with a clear vision of what they needed to do. They discovered a space for lease in downtown Livermore and transformed it into a special place for the community to enjoy.
"For me, it was a question of what would Waylynn want us to do? And this was something that really struck deep with me was to make this space as beautiful as possible and really just her as our guiding principle and light behind everything we're doing right now," said Bryan.
The Wingens made sure that Waylynn's memory lives on by dedicating a room to her at the bakery.
"Her name is on the outside of the wall. We have a little gallery of friends' photos and pictures that were given to her. And, we're really just trying to give back to the community that gave so much to us and really show them love," says Bryan.
For more information about the Wingen Bakery, visit here.