How does one start a viable bakery with almost no start-up money, no storefront and no real staff? "One cake at a time," Mary Jayne Burris explains with exuberant laughter and a proud smile.
As owner and founder of Lady Jayne's Bakery, a sweet edition to the city's culinary offerings, this 20-something pastry chef has worked her way up from sous chef in the kitchens of Mez and Zebra to owner of her own full-service bakery and dessert supplier.
The determined and talented graduate of Johnson & Wales University credits the success of her business to believing in herself, family support and the Queen City's insatiable taste for sweets.
Creative Loafing: So you don't have a storefront, but your desserts are served at some of the most popular digs in town. How did you manage to pull that off?
Mary Jayne Burris: My sister really helped out a lot. She has a really strong network and introduced me to a few of the business owners she knew, and from there, it was my job to make the sale. I didn't really have start-up money. At first, I thought not having a storefront was a negative, but now I see it as a positive because I have the freedom to work whenever I want without all the overhead. I found a kitchen to rent, got to work, and now my desserts are served at well-established restaurants like Cabo Fish Taco, Whiskey Warehouse and Dilworth Coffee.
You specialize in custom orders. What do you like best about creating your own recipes?
It's fun because I've worked in so many restaurants and now I have complete creative control. The restaurant owners will text me and say, "We need desserts," Then I can make whatever I want. I'm totally open to whatever and I'm absolutely confident I can make anything. I also love when people come to me with their ideas and I get so many random orders. For Valentine's Day, this girl wanted me to make a cake for her boyfriend with his two favorites, blackberries and bourbon. I made the cake and he absolutely loved it. I love having the ability to bring those ideas to life.
You wear so many hats in your business. How do you plan to keep pace with your recent growth?
Right now, I'm buying the supplies, I'm making the food, I'm taking the orders and I'm delivering them, but my brother plans to move here soon to help. Cabo sells like six cakes a week and I never would have thought they would sell that much in one week, but it's a great feeling. I also have all my other orders, but everyone has been extremely awesome. With continual marketing and networking, I am so excited about the future of Lady Jayne's.