Kathryn Bowden broke free from corporate-world jobs, and now all she wants to to do is bake cakes for businesses.
In fall 2007, Bowden began her own pound cake business, Unforgettable Pound Cakes. Though she was not experienced as an entrepreneur, her pound cakes have gained popularity and a loyal customer following.
Her cakes are sold in every in metro Atlanta, as well as the Saturday Peachtree Road Farmers' Market from April to December. Most of her personal business comes from orders on holidays, especially Christmas and Mother's Day, for which she hires workers to clean dishes. But Bowden's hope is to get a distributorship and sell her cakes commercially.
Currently, her kitchen is in a refurbished dance studio on Bishop Street, where she has an oven, bunt pans, and an electric stand mixer big enough to bake 24 cakes at one time. She is saving up to buy another mixer and tending dreams of adding a three-day coconut cake and fudge-espresso mix chocolate cake to her menu.
The pound cakes, which can be ordered online or by phone and delivered by mail, come in five different designs: swirl, cathedral, sandcastle, sunflower and chrysanthemum. Bowden uses her husband's grandmother's recipe, tweaked only slightly to meet Whole Foods and farmer's market nutritional requirements; for example, using cage-free eggs. Bowden said her recipe is nothing very special, and yet customers are impressed by it.
"It's interesting how people are so devoted to these cakes," Bowden said. "There's something about these cakes that people just love... maybe it's a comfort food."
Bowden said people generally expect to enjoy the gooiest, most layered desserts the most, and are surprised at the satisfaction one of her simple pound cakes brings. Though the cakes are very moist, and best served after being frozen, Bowden adds no frosting or glaze to them. However, a chocolate sauce can be purchased on the side.
The best way to discover that someone especially enjoys her cake, Bowden said, is by giving free samples at food shows and farmer's markets. She said, "They come back, bringing their husbands saying, 'You've got to try this.'"
What's her advice for others wishing to create a business out of a hobby? "Make sure it's a good product... research and make sure there is a market for it," Bowden said. She said she still constantly talks to people to observe how the cake market is changing around her, and takes any opportunity to increase awareness of her product. "I'm all about exposure," she said.
Bowden is seeking advice about how to enlarge her business. "Every year I just learn so much," she said. "It keeps me busy."
Bowden's love for cooking doesn't stop with baked goods; she said she always likes to try new dinner recipes, even if her children and husband are skeptical. She said in order to be a good food preparer you have to have an imagination.
"A recipe is a map, and you have to take detours and explore." Bowden also recommends that chefs and bakers never cut corners or settle for less than what a recipe calls for, if you want the best product. "It doesn't have to be easy or convenient."
Bowden often works 10 hours a day, seven days a week during major holidays, but enjoys "not working for the man."
Unforgettable Pound Cakes can be ordered online or by calling 404-992-2234.