Today's Paper Latest Coronavirus The Article Core Values Story ideas iPad Weather Newsletters Obits Puzzles Archive
ADVERTISEMENT

3 Arkansas cottage bakers dish on doing business from their own kitchens

by Nyssa Kruse | April 22, 2021 at 9:29 a.m.
(from left) Hannah Lavender of Sweet Lavender Bakeshop, Monica Chatterton of Flake Baby Pastry and Megan Chadwick of Sweet Crumb Bakery.

This story is a part of The Article, your guide to Arkansas news and culture, presented by the Democrat-Gazette. Sign up for The Article's twice-weekly newsletter here or to see stories that have appeared in past newsletters, go here.

In addition to the numerous brick-and-mortar shops in Arkansas offering sweet treats, the Natural State is also home to cottage bakers working out of their own kitchens to create desserts and goodies.

We reached out to three bakers in Central Arkansas to learn more about them and their businesses. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Monica Chatterton, owner of Flake Baby Patry
Monica Chatterton, owner of Flake Baby Patry

Monica Chatterton, Flake Baby Pastry

When and why did you start your business?

I started making the poptarts in 2016 when I was a breakfast cook at The Root. I made them as a brunch special and people were really into it. They’ve come a long way since then and I’ve really honed in on the recipe. When I realized how popular they were I started selling to friends around the holidays. Someone told me about the cottage food laws in Arkansas and how I could sell at farmer’s markets and the rest is history!

What are the benefits and the challenges of operating without a physical location?

I would say the benefits are, like I mentioned, I’m able to set my own schedule and boundaries and take time off when I need it. Which is new to me! But that’s kind of a double-edged sword, sometimes it’s difficult to get motivated especially when I don’t have anyone telling me that I have to do something. It’s a lot different than having a set schedule each week and knowing what needs to be done. Another challenge is that my kitchen/house is kind of small, so the amount that I’m actually able to create is sometimes limited. I feel like I produce A LOT for being one person but sometimes it still doesn’t feel like enough when the demand is high.

How much of a role does Instagram and other social media play in your business?

Instagram plays a huge role in my business. People come to the market all the time and say it’s cause they saw me on instagram and have been wanting to try my stuff. It’s kind of wild. But I think it’s cause I established a style early on and it's very eye-catching. I try to post really often and keep people excited and engaged. It can get really exhausting sometimes but it’s free advertising and kind of like a portfolio of my work.

What’s your specialty?

My specialty is definitely the flake babies! They are where it all started and I’ve had years to “perfect” them (though I’m still constantly tweaking and improving upon them). They’re fun and the flavor possibilities are endless. I think the constantly changing decorations and flavors is what keeps people coming back, and it keeps me from getting bored. I’ve also started offering oversized flake babies (flake daddies) that are a really fun alternative to cakes cause they serve several people.

Where or how can people get your goods?

I always post on Instagram/Facebook about specials like variety boxes or holiday offerings, and you can usually find me at the White Water Tavern farmers market on Saturdays! I’ve been doing monthly pop-ups at Fidel & Co. in the East Village as well. I also accept custom orders via email at FlakeBabyPastry@gmail.com.

Hannah Lavender, owner of Sweet Lavender Bakeshop
Hannah Lavender, owner of Sweet Lavender Bakeshop

Hannah Lavender, Sweet Lavender Bakeshop

Describe yourself and your business.

I am a home-based bakery located in Little Rock and I specialize in buttercream cakes for all occasions, big or small. My favorite designs are when I get to work with fresh flowers & gold accents.

How did you get into baking?

I always enjoyed baking from a young age. The older I got (and the more baking TV shows I watched), the more I found my passion for it. It has always been a fun and creative outlet for me.

What are the benefits and the challenges of operating without a physical location?

In the beginning, pick ups/deliveries were a challenge for me. Not having a physical location for people to come to or meet me at was a struggle & ended with meeting in parking lots, which wasn't always convenient. Not having the space for storage, commercial equipment and just a standard kitchen oven are also challenges of being at home. My house is overrun with cake supplies!

How much of a role does Instagram and other social media play in your business?

Instagram is a huge part of my business. From the beginning, it's how I was able to get my customer base. I would say, aside from word of mouth, Instagram is my biggest platform to get new business and reach new people.

What’s your specialty?

Cakes are definitely my area. I only use buttercream and don't work much with fondant. Vanilla and strawberry cake are both the big sellers.

Where or how can people get your goods?

They can order off of my webpage or by emailing me directly (sweetlavenderbakeshop@gmail.com). I also offer cake slices at Heights Corner Market. I try my best to stock it up 1-2 times a week in a grab and go case!

Megan Chadwick, of Sweet Crumb Bakery
Megan Chadwick, of Sweet Crumb Bakery

Megan Chadwick, Sweet Crumb Bakery

When and why did you start your business?

I started around seven years ago, then went back to school/work but kept it on side. I eventually went full time two years ago. I started it because my hobby and passion was an actual career, which is pretty lucky.

What are your goals for your business?

My goal is to keep creating art through cookies and challenging myself with new techniques. I also want to have a signature look, one where if you see my cookies you’d instantly know they were my work. I think it’s cool to have a distinct personal style.

What are the benefits and the challenges of operating without a physical location?

The benefits of working from home and setting my own hours are endless. I get time to spend with my family, I get to work in pajamas, listen to podcasts/music, watch all the tv while creating cookies. I get to work in my personal space which is very comforting. If I need to stay up late working (which is often) then I don’t have to go into the office.

The challenges of working from home...missing out on conversations with colleagues, having to clean my kitchen from cookies and from making dinner. There is also the issue of space, or lack of.

How much of a role does Instagram and other social media play in your business?

I feel like I get tons of business based on social media. Word of mouth is the best way to get known, and everyone loves to talk on social media. There is definitely a downside to that, but it’s mostly been positive for me. I’m not from this area so I can’t rely on friends from school or family to get ahead. I’ve had to build a customer base while knowing very few people, and social media has absolutely been key to that. Instagram is especially big because the focus is the picture, which is the big hook for my cookies.

What’s your specialty?

Cookies! It’s all about the decorated cookies. I’d say my favorite orders and orders people seem to enjoy the most are ones that show my sense of humor. The quirky funny orders really bring out a fun side.

Where or how can people get your goods?

I’m currently working on a new website but for now customers can reach out via email (sweetcrumbbakery@gmail.com), Instagram, or Facebook until that site is up and running!

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsor Content

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT