|Photo Credit – David Newman|
They say necessity is the mother of invention. Nikki Thompson Frazier is one mamma that was willing to reinvent the wheel for her daughter’s food allergies. She calls herself a #momtrepreneur. She’s worked hard to get promote her business, and has won numerous grants and awards for her business plan. That business is Sweet Encounter Bakery
Now mom and dads all over the greater Lansing area and across Michigan have found a safe gluten-free solution for their children’s special events, most of which are baked out of her home. She’s not stopping there though. Her dream is to secure enough money to open a complete cafe, where people with a range of allergy needs can come eat together.
Read more about Sweet Encounter Bakery in Frazier’s own words.
|Photo Credit- Nikki Frazier|
1. What inspired you to become a baker? Why the focus on gluten-free?
My two beautiful girls Melia and Madison are the inspiration for my gluten-free business. They are both allergic to wheat and have other serious food allergies. (Their story is written in more detail in the backstory section on my website.) I was determined to conquer gluten-free baking because I didn’t want my oldest Melia to be “the kid who couldn’t have a cupcake.” She was constantly being invited to birthday parties so I would call the mom and ask what was on the menu. I would bring the exactly the same foods, only gluten-free of course. Imagine all the other moms who stared at me wondering why in the world I brought the “same” food for my daughter. I want other mothers and children to avoid that same awkwardness.
2. Are there other highlights of your products? Dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free etc, etc?
On top of being 100% gluten-free, all of my baked goods are also peanut-free. I also offer gluten-free vegan (egg and dairy-free) products as well. I do custom orders and can work around most allergens. One of the most interesting custom orders I’ve made was gluten, yeast, dairy, egg, soy, potato and corn-free cake.
3. What steps do you take to insure that your products are truly gluten-free?
First, I verify my ingredients. I only use raw ingredients that are certified gluten-free or are naturally gluten-free. I always call a company to verify a products “free-from” status if I have any doubts. My custom order baked goods are made in my 100% gluten-free kitchen.
Second, I clean my commercial work space thoroughly. My commercially sold baked goods (available at Tom’s Food Center in Okemos) are currently being produced at Allen Neighborhood Center’s commercial kitchen. This is not a dedicated kitchen, which I note on my labeling. That being said, all of my pans, utensils, and equipment are dedicated to gluten-free baking. I fully sanitize the work area before I begin and take every possible precaution to prevent cross-contact. Sweet Encounter Bakery is the only business in the commercial kitchen while I am preparing items. I know that producing in a 100% gluten-free facility is vital, and I am working hard on securing a storefront of my own!
4. Do you have any stories of customers who reported back to you how important your products have been in their life?
Yes, here’s a great testimonial from a Google review.
“I special ordered lemonade cupcakes for a baby shower from Sweet Encounter Bakery & Cafe. We needed them to be dairy-free, wheat-free, soy-free, yeast-free, potato-free, and corn-free. It was a hard to find combination but the bakery didn’t even flinch at the request. The cupcakes were perfect.”One mom used to order gluten-free and dairy-free cupcakes online from Erin McKenna in NYC. She is so thankful to have a local business to order from now. Another mom whose daughter has a peanut allergy is thankful that my home kitchen is peanut-free and can now find someone to make her daughter’s birthday cakes.
5. What would you like consumers to know about your products and your business?
My primary goal is providing delicious and safe products. I do my best to insure my products and customer service is second to none. This means I pay attention to details and verify all products are gluten-free and allergy friendly. I never want anyone, especially a child, to go without a cake or cupcake on their birthday. That’s why I will do my best to customize a cake around most allergies. I want families to be FREE to dine out and enjoy delicious food. But I want them to enjoy more than simply desserts. This is why I am planning to open a cafe. Families will be able to dine and enjoy a full menu of gluten-free items in a 100% gluten free facility.
Currently, you can find products Sweet Encounter Bakery products at Tom’s Food Center in Okemos. Some of Nikki’s cakes are available a la carte at the University Club in East Lansing, and she takes special orders as well. She is willing to ship to those who don’t live in the immediate vicinity. Follow Sweet Encounter Bakery on social media to get updates on her search for a storefront!Make sure to follow along with my #MichigansBestGF Bakery Search and learn about the over 20 gluten-free bakers in Michigan. Click this link to see a complete statewide list of bakers and in interactive map to their locations! Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Periscope for pictures and live videos too!