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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Berkeley chapter.

Sweet strawberry, apricot, and poppy seed puree rolled in pastry dough makes a Ukrainian delicacy better known as rugelach. Outbaking sells these homemade pastries to cafes and restaurants in the Bay Area.

Sasha Zebelin, the founder of Outbaking, wanted to give back to his fellow Ukrainians. He knew that aid was being sent to Ukraine, so he decided to focus on helping Ukrainians in the US; this led to the creation of Outbaking almost a year ago. 

Zebelin came to the United States from Ukraine with his family to pursue a further education at UC Berkeley. There were many opportunities America offered that Ukraine wasn’t able to. He believes that since he was fortunate enough to come here and pursue these opportunities, he should help those having a more difficult time assimilating into the US.

Zebelin tells Her Campus at UC Berkeley, “Launching this baking company wasn’t about following a passion for food or stepping into an industry I knew inside out. It was about recognizing a pressing need and acting on it. When I saw the hardships faced by refugees from Ukraine, the decision to help became personal. Starting a business in a familiar sector wouldn’t have made the same impact… It was about providing a lifeline, a sense of purpose, and support to those who had been through unimaginable challenges…It’s about human connection, empathy, and making an impact where it truly counts.”

Outbaking bakery
Photo by Maddy Esses

This endeavor exists beyond the scope of politics, rising above debates of morality, and instead centering on humanity. It focuses on mothers, grandparents, and their children searching for refuge and a sense of normalcy in a land not their own. 

Zebelin has a commercial kitchen where three Ukrainian women bake these sweet treats before they get delivered to cafes nearby. He has created an environment where they feel comfortable speaking their native language and feel more at home while working to make rugelach. 

He chose to sell rugelach, not only because it’s a Ukrainian pastry but also because it isn’t well known in the Bay Area. He’s bringing rugelach into the larger market of pastries.

Outbaking is currently in about 20 cafes and restaurants in Berkeley and growing; some of the cafes include Artis Coffee, Victory Point Cafe, and Kiklo Cafe. Outbaking also has a catering company on their list of clients, whose most recent order was hundreds of pieces! 

Zebelin explains that when he hand delivered this order, “They appreciated us so much.” He states that the owner of the company shared his gratitude by saying, “We have an event in several hours and [Zebelin’s rugelach] pretty much takes care of all of our desserts… these 400 pieces will last us [three] days!”

Zebelin is currently working on expanding to the entire Silicon Valley, including Oakland and the San Francisco area. He already provides pastries to a few locations in San Francisco, like Fueling Station Cafe.

Zebelin is collaborating with a group of interns from UC Berkeley, Berkeley Community College, and San Jose State University. They help Outbaking with the marketing and business development of the company.

According to Zebelin, one of the most difficult parts of making this company successful is expanding and getting the product out to as many restaurants and cafes as possible. Therefore, along with Zebelin, interns go door-to-door, pitching their company to cafes, which they’ve found to be the most successful way of selling the product. 

He chose to seek the help of college students as he believes “Students are eager to help, and [they] understand the importance of the community.”

The interns have diverse experience, allowing them to provide different standpoints and areas of expertise; some focus on the business side, some on the journalistic side, and some on the visual design side. 

Jade Thieu, who helps with the visual and design aspects of Outbaking, shared her experience working with the company.

“At Outbaking, we’ve built a sanctuary that unites people through the universal language of baking, providing a safe haven for those escaping the atrocities of the Russian-Ukrainian war… It’s about more than just sharing recipes — it’s about sharing stories, healing together, and building a strong, supportive community. We hope to spark a wave of kindness and understanding that reaches far beyond our kitchen, showing the world the power of unity and compassion.”

“It’s about more than just sharing recipes — it’s about sharing stories, healing together, and building a strong, supportive community.”

Jade Thieu

Another intern, Kristiyan Klichev, has found working on the business side of Outbaking extremely rewarding and appreciates the opportunity to give back to his community.

“We hope to be a source of relief for this community in the midst of the current war and help Ukrainians feel more comfortable in the US. Through providing an opportunity for bakers to work, each pastry sold helps a Ukrainian family purchase the things they need to live and adapt,” Klichev said.

Outbaking isn’t just a company that sells delicious treats; it’s also a community whose main focus is to help and give to others in need.

Maddy Esses

UC Berkeley '26

Maddy Esses is a writer for National Chapter of Her Campus. She enjoys writing many different types of articles including features and cultural articles about her community and about topics that are relevant in social media as well as articles on the environment. She is a sophomore at UC Berkeley and is planning on majoring in Media Studies and minoring in Spanish. She is very excited to be writing for Her Campus and she hopes to continue writing about topics she is passionate about. In her free time she enjoys hiking with her dog, going on drives with her friends, horseback riding, and baking.