These women have taken a cupcake shop and made an international epicurean tourist attraction.
BMB’s Interview Series features conversations with marketers and business owners who exemplify brand marketing.
Kelly’s Bake Shoppe is a cupcake bakery on the rise; but not rising with the traditional flour and baking soda. Kelly’s features delicious treats that are gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, wheat-free, peanut-free and vegan. My wife thinks their treats are made of magic, and I know she isn’t the only one to think that.
The Shoppe regularly sports a line of customers out the door, a line made up of everyone from a person looking for a treat after a double shift, to a wealthy suburbanite getting cupcakes to satisfy a forty kid birthday party. At number three on Buzzfeed’s “25 Sweet Cupcake Shops Around the World to Eat at Before You Die” list, the downtown Burlington bakery is a must-visit for culinary tourists.
BMB reached out to them not for their scrumptious product, but because of their marketing materials and storefront, which are of unheard of in quality for this size of business. The company’s people and products have a story, and one that they tell well. This is a company that is poised for tremendous success and growth.
So who is responsible for these wondrous treats supported by top quality marketing? A mother/daughter team: mother Kelly Childs and daughter Erinn Weatherbie. Let’s hear from them:
Colin Finkle: For those who haven’t experience the delight of your product, what is Kelly’s Bake Shoppe?
Kelly Childs: Kelly’s Bake Shoppe is a fairy-tale. It’s a “Once Upon a Time..” story that is all about a mom and daughter who passionately created magic for others. It’s this magical place that everyone can enjoy a delicious, healthy treat together. We are gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, wheat-free, peanut-free and vegan bake shoppe. Kelly’s Bake Shoppe embodies the philosophy that you are what you eat and simply put, “we love what we do”. Kelly’s takes customer service to another level and we allow every single soul that comes through our door, to be transported into a positively energized, escape from their daily routine. We want to change the way people look at food and encourage them to make choices to nourish themselves on a whole new level. This ends up being reflected into their passion they have for their lives. That is our mission: “To bring joy and love to all beings”.
Erinn Weatherbie: Kelly’s Bake Shoppe is the bakery for everyone! We’re 100% gluten-free, peanut-free, and vegan bakery. We use only natural colours and flavours and use organic ingredients where possible. Did I mention that our goodies are delicious, and award-winning too?!
Colin Finkle: What is the definition of the term “brand” to you?
Kelly Childs: The term brand is more of a feeling or culture to me. It’s the people and energy you attract to your very essence, and your ‘being’, andthis, ultimately, becomes your fans, your tribe and your business. It’s a feeling that people get from being touched by you and your message and your culture. It is the package that you ‘ARE’. That energetic, virtual package that leaves people thinking about you every day because of how their lives were touched (and hopefully
leaves them with a smile on their faces).
Erinn Weatherbie: It’s what your business looks like to outsiders. It’s the feeling or images they get in their mind when they think of your business. The brand can be both factual (we use pink boxes for our cupcakes), and emotionally (warm and fuzzy feeling).
Colin Finkle: Kelly’s Bake Shoppe has a very well defined brand: clear message, differentiated product, unique graphics. How was the brand developed?
Kelly Childs: The brand was developed from a sincere love of people. The clear message has taken 50 years to develop! Having a clear message is surrendering to your own truth, pushing away your fear, finding your authentic voice and deciding to be true to what is so important to you. It’s a deep “inside job” that comes from your core for sure and your personal life’s lessons to be true to whom each of us are, even if you have to fiercely fight for it. We believe that everyone deserves magic in the life (even our charities we support reflect that). That everyone should be included in celebrations, at school, and in every day life. That we all have an inherent desire to feel loved and be wanted. My first word I learned to spell at two years of age was L.O.V.E and I remember running around my home yelling it out (I’m sure, freaking my parents out). It is how I have lived my life and give of myself to others. The brand is not about making money and being the big superstar success story. We wanted our brand to reflect the authenticity of a mom and daughter with a deep love of each other, the planet, the health of people and the love of all beings. We wanted our passion to shine through and not be falsely, sugar coated with a logo and a false sense of ideals and be silent behind the “brand concept”.
Erinn Weatherbie: It’s evolved since we opened in 2012! It’s funny looking at what we used to look like and what we look like now. Our logo is the pinnacle of our brand, made by my Mom’s handwriting (which gives it a personal feel). We’ve used graphic designers and branding companies to help us out with the brand, however, we’ve always known exactly what we’ve wanted!
Colin Finkle: There is a personality to the brand. Is that either of your personalities? Or both? Or is it a personality you consciously chose for the business?
Kelly Childs: It totally is both of us. What came first? The chicken or the egg? LOL. Kelly or Erinn? Without Erinn, I would not have been stirred deep inside my soul. Erinn brought out an inspired side of me to decide to use our voices to protect all beings and to use our platform to sprinkle fairy-dust and magic into people’s lives. Being a mom brings out the protector in you and for me, I decided to speak up and become a fierce leader in wellness and choices we all get to make for ourselves. I wanted to protect those kids that have already been harmed by our food industry with packaged, fast food (fake food). We now have an epidemic of allergies on our hands and cancer is the #1 killer of kids under the age of 15, autism and ADHD if affecting 1000’s of kids and these things weren’t even on the radar 30 years ago. It’s crazy! What’s changed? Food!
Erinn Weatherbie: It’s both of us for sure! We love the family aspect of our business, and I think that this has given our brand that warm and fuzzy feeling to our customers.
Colin Finkle: Design is clearly baked in (pardon the pun) to the business. Not just in the cupcakes themselves, but the design of the store and graphics. Does either one of you have a background in design? Do you have external partners that help you with design?
Kelly Childs: Gosh, thank you for this compliment. The interior design was all ours. We always wanted a vanilla white décor with the hint of pink in the boxes. That was to be the only colour. The accents of old wood, distressed on the floor and the tabletops add a more “old world” charm and European flare and were inspired from online research and Pinterest of course. Lighting is everything too and that took a ton of time to research and finalize to give it that perfect light. We used a branding company, two years ago, to help us hammer out our brand package which entailed current logo, fonts and brand colours, etc., and website and we now have an “in-house” graphic team that supports our designs and marketing. It’s pretty much just the two of us making the call (for now).
Erinn Weatherbie: My Mom has more experience in design. However, we’ve both been super inspired by our travels and have taken elements of places we love from all over the world, and have replicated them at home!
Colin Finkle: In listening to your answers, I am reminded of the Maya Angelou quote:“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” What do you think of that?
Kelly Childs: That is exactly our philosophy and what we embody. You know we wanted the bake shoppe and Lettuce Love to “BE” that place. “Kelly and Erinn” are not separate from the businesses; we are the extension of them. When you walk in to either location, your are enveloped with radiating kindness and can feel the authentic love baked and created in everything we do. People comment all the time how ‘good they feel’ at Kelly’s and Lettuce Love and that is something for us to be very proud of. That is our payback: Changing the hearts of people and know we are all connected energetically.
Erinn Weatherbie: We’ve had such an incredible impact on people’s lives here at the bake shoppe (and at Lettuce Love), and sometimes we don’t even realize that true positive impact. We’ve been able to come into peoples homes with our food and teach them how they can live their lives with vibrancy, without having a negative impact on the environment.
Colin Finkle: Kelly’s Bake Shoppe sounds like truly a family affair. Some families struggle with the added pressure of a businesses on their relationships, but you seem to thrive. Do you have any advice for other families out there operating businesses?
Kelly Childs: Struggle? LOL. Well, if you only knew. One day there will be another book on this subject. I see it as the lesson in the transition to love for all, acceptance of others and really deeply releasing the need to be right. I tend to be the more ‘spirited or spicy” one of the bunch and Erinn is calm, grounded, seriously mature. We have learned the art of communicating. When one of us wants to discuss something, no matter what we are involved in, we must stop and look the other in the eye and truly listen. It’s remarkable how tensions become instantly diffused.
Erinn Weatherbie: It’s always a work in progress, and no one’s perfect. We always try our best to have the work/personal life balance, but we have our moments of stress and frustration for sure. But at the end of the day, the good outweighs the bad!
Colin Finkle: To change gears for a second, you renamed your first restaurant Lettuce Love Cafe. It was previously Kindfood. What prompted this rebrand?
Erinn Weatherbie: We had to change brands due to a trademarking conflict with a US based brand who had trademarked the word Kind. If we ever wanted to expand, we couldn’t use the word “Kind”, so Lettuce Love it was! 🙂
Kelly Childs: Yes, as Erinn said, we were served with a cease and desist letter from an NYC legal firm representing a massive corporation. It was astonishing to us as we were this little café in Burlington and somehow we rattled them. We put up a fight for a year and then realized how quickly our funds were evaporating. This corporation was in 38 countries and was never going to back down. We were simply blown away that someone could own the word “kind” and so disappointed we had to change gears. The good news is that as soon as we re-branded to Lettuce Love Café, our sales doubled! … so, thank you to Kind LLC.
Colin Finkle: Any other advice for a founder in the midst of fighting the good fight…?
Kelly Childs: Be tenacious and always uphold your passion. Never cave into pressure to other people giving you advice. The more authentic you are, the more your voice and your business will resonate with your tribe. Be ready to commit. For us, it’s been almost 6 years of 100 + hours a week devotional dedication. Even if we are not in the country, we are still doing Social Media, answering emails, research, building ideas, dreaming, thinking of the next step. Don’t give up! You never know when the next tidbit of beautifulness will come and land in the palm of your hand.
Do not watch what others are doing and feel envy, as it is so important to always be happy for others and grateful they exist. It’s the kiss of death for your happiness when we decide to compete. There is an energetic shift in consciousness that dulls your glow. It’s sad actually. If you stay true to who you are and true your passion, true to your dreams and your unique business model, you will thrive. We seriously love what we do. Every day we are excited to share our love for our customers and fans and for our staff and ourselves. Every day I want to kiss and hug them all. Trust me, it is contagious.
If you enjoyed this, we recommend reading BMB’s interview with Alexander Mimran who explains how his company, Minbox, is “lasting mental footprint in the customer’s mind.” You can always check our BMB’s Interview Series.
Erinn Weatherbie is daughter to Kelly, and the co-owner and co-founder of Kelly’s Bake Shoppe and Lettuce Love Cafe. For more information on her, you can read her writing on her blog, or follow her on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.
Kelly Childs is mother to Erinn, and the co-owner and co-founder of Kelly’s Bake Shoppe and Lettuce Love Cafe. To hear about her work as a vegan entrepreneur, you can visit her website, or follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Linked In and Pinterest.