Sweet Encounters Opens Gluten Free Bakery in East LansingBy Jane Whitttington on May 17th, 2016 /
What’s a mother to do? When Nikki Thompson Frazier discovered that her daughters were both multi-allergic, she knew she had to act. Her older daughter, aged five, is allergic to wheat, soy, corn and fish while her younger child, aged two, is allergic to wheat, eggs, milk and nuts. However, she didn’t want them to miss out on birthday cakes, morning muffins or after-school cookies, so she set out to make delicious treats that could be enjoyed by children—and adults—with allergies. Now she is set to open her own business, Sweet Encounter Bakery & Café, in either Lansing or East Lansing by the end of the summer.
Frazier moved to the area from Alabama a year or so ago when her husband accepted a position as Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs at Michigan State University.
According to Frazier, “Sweet Encounter will focus on gluten-free, but I’ll also be offering lots of other products for people with allergies. I can do soy-free-, nut-free, vegan and many other options. Despite the fact that I’m not using ‘traditional’ ingredients in some of my food, I know that it won’t sell if it isn’t delicious. I did a lot of experimenting in my own kitchen before I arrived at the perfect recipes for my food!”
She continues, “I use rice flour, millet, flax and different grains, egg substitutes and many other ingredients that almost no one is allergic to. I also bake some products that are not for people with allergies, so I cover it all. My children love what I make, and so do their friends. My husband’s co-workers have also benefited from my experimentation, and the response is always positive. Right now, my products are served at MSU’s University Club and are also available at Tom’s Food Center in Okemos. I make those products in a commercial kitchen, but I also do special orders out of my own kitchen.”
Although Frazier has never owned and operated a business before, she has confidence both in her own ability and the assistance, financial and otherwise, she has received from the community. At the beginning, she was meeting with lawyers, banks, Lansing Economic Development Partnership, the Small Business Development Center and other professionals. She’s also working with a mentor, another female restaurant owner whom she met through EMERGE, an organization matching mentors with fledgling entrepreneurs. Frazier has participated in four pitch competitions and came out of them with a substantial amount of money, enough that she felt comfortable going ahead with her ambitious plans.
While she is concentrating on baking right now, her upcoming café will also feature breakfast items, soups, salads and sandwiches as well as the fantastic desserts for which she is becoming known. Her website tells her story, and the picture gallery of amazing food will surely whet your appetite for what is to come. In the meantime, you can sample her desserts at the University Club or pick up a treat to take home at Tom’s. You can also call Nikki and arrange for a custom made dessert—or more than one if you can’t make up your mind.
Visit her website at www.sweetencounterbakery.com