Kim Fowlkes has been in business since 2001, when the baking started in earnest.
It’s been over the last two years though that demand has gotten so big for Fowlkes and her baking business and blog, A Piece of Cake and A Mouthful of Food, respectively, that earnest gave way to full court press.
“I started baking because as I got older my grandma and mom stopped, so I had to do it if I wanted to eat the things I loved,” jokes the chef and Flint-based business owner.
Fowlkes started with, and is now known for, cakes cookies, and peach cobbler.
“Peach cobbler was something my grandma made, and it turns out everybody seems to like it, too,” she says.
Everything Fowlkes makes is a classic, and made from scratch. They are things you can’t get from a grocery store. “It’s the best. People like the classic homemade stuff,” she says.
That homemade stuff consists of cakes for almost any occasion, favorites like red velvet, pound cake, German chocolate (Fowlkes’ number-one seller), caramel pound cake with a caramel frosting and strawberry, carrot, Italian cream cakes. There’s also an array of cookies – chocolate chip, no-bakes, pecan tassies (like bite-size pecan pies), oatmeal raisin, and peanut butter. They are made year-round for birthdays, dinners, anniversaries, even business meetings.
However, she doesn’t take special requests “because I want to keep practicing what I do. When I do something I want it to be better than good. I want it to be great,” she says.
Fowlkes works a full-time job in a communications center for a large company so she has to carve out time to develop her business. She says that’s been tough the last two years as the demands of her job grew.
She found she had to scale the business as she could, trying to keep a balance with work, necessary down time, and taking care of her daughter, who is also her only employee.
“I’ve never hired anybody, except for an intern one summer,” she says. “It’s mostly been the two of us.”
Her creations sell mostly by word of mouth with Fowlkes spending a lot of time on social media publicizing her business.
“I formed a customer base by meeting and talking to people and grew things from there,” she says.
That customer base is mostly older women – in their 40s, 50s, and 60s.
Fowlkes wants her blog, A Mouthful of Food, to be the driver of her business, the place where she shares recipes as well as anything that’s on her mind. Having the blog gives her the opportunity to talk about all that she loves as it relates to baking and cooking – including recipes. It also lets her give voice to topics of importance to her – like life lists, and her goals. Fowlkes feels if she puts it out there for her reader, it will help both of them get to where they’d like to be.
“My book list for 2018 is on there too,” she says. “One of my recent blog posts is about a favorite podcast. I try not to keep to a schedule, but just write about what interests me.”
She is also planning a 2019 cake calendar with recipes for each one of her layer cakes.
Her plan is to keep baking and blogging and develop the business from there. Right now, Fowlkes uses her own kitchen to bake the goods but she is looking at a more professional environment so she can take the baking up a few notches.
She would like to dive into gourmet cooking, eventually opening some type of food establishment – “maybe a café, but I haven’t narrowed it down.”
“You never know what can come from baking,” she says. “I find a lot of pleasure in the response from what I do. It makes me feel good.”