RICHMOND – Declining sales due to the coronavirus can be a recipe for disaster for small businesses. That is why two Richmond bakers have teamed up to help fellow business owners stay busy.
Pastry chefs Nikita Freeman and Neciey Shelton entered a baking competition last June to gain exposure for their at-home baking businesses.
“Houston is a big city. So we’re saturated with bakers,” said Freeman, a U.S. Army veteran turned baker. “For us, getting our name out there, it’s not like back in the day with word of mouth.”
The baking cousins said the competition wasn’t fruitful.
“Long story short, they basically just took out money,” Freeman said.
The experience pushed them to create their own baking competition, Bakers of Mo City.
“Our main focus is to get the other businesses out because of COVID,” said Shelton. “Being a home baker, being a small business, it’s kind of hard getting your name out there, especially in these times.”
The inaugural Bakers of Mo City event took place on Aug. 8 with 17 competitors.
The winning cake was a Black Lives Matter themed design made by Tenique Guillory.
Guillory said she was planning to make a wine barrel cake when her daughter suggested a timely theme. The cake featured small details like the names of Black people that were killed by police. The marbled cake, she said, tells the story about the pain, the global response and the continuous movement needed.
“For me, Black Lives Matter is very touchy because of my skin complexion,” said Guillory. “People don’t identify me as Black, but I am 100% African-American.”
Guillory is not a trained baker. She’s actually an event planner, who she said was doubting her baking skills up until the last moment when she won a trophy and $1,000 prize.
“When I pick up a spatula it’s more than just making a cake,” she said. “It’s actually me expressing everything. Putting all that hurt and pain into my craft.”
Bakers of Mo City also donated $1,000 to Black Lives Matter Houston.
Freeman and Shelton are planning a second competition in the fall. They are currently accepting contestants and sponsors.