Nikki Thompson Frazer has two daughters who suffer from allergies to wheat, corn, soy, fish, eggs, milk and nuts, making eating desserts or baked goods extremely difficult. Having children with food allergies can seem like a big challenge for some parents, but Thompson Frazer turned those challenges into a business opportunity.
“I essentially turned necessity into my business,” she explained. “With seven food allergies between my two children, you’ve got to learn how to make food for them.”
In the fall of 2015, Thompson Frazer founded Sweet Encounter, a bakery with desserts and breads that could be eaten safely by people with food allergies.
“I knew that others could benefit from my culinary skills,” she said. “And a good number of people were interested in food for people with food allergies, so I started Sweet Encounter.”
Instead of using common ingredients found in baked goods, Thompson Frazer uses alternatives that those with food sensitivities can safely consume. Each dessert is made from scratch and is gluten free, soy free, peanut free or vegan, depending on what the customer wants.
Most of the desserts she makes are baked and prepared with dairy and eggs; however, the Dark Chocolate Goodness Cake and most of the breads are gluten, dairy and egg free. Sweet Encounter can accommodate most allergies, and makes sure that all products are peanut free by using a peanut free facility.
“My baked goods are great for vegans as well,” said Thompson Frazer. “Many people that are vegan also order cupcakes from me because many of my recipes are vegan to comply with allergies.”
When she founded Sweet Encounter, Thompson Frazer submitted a business pitch to the Michigan Women’s Foundation Pitch Competition and won. She was awarded $10,000 and a business coach to help her improve her business plan. She then continued on to win the Lansing Economic Area Partnership’s Hatching competition for businesses, and earned another $22,000. With that money, Thompson Frazer plans to purchase a storefront for her business.
“I want people with food allergies to come into my café and be excited by what’s on the menu,” she explained. “I don’t want anybody to feel left out when it comes to eating something delicious. I feel bad when a child goes to a birthday party and they are the only one that can’t eat the cake.”
For now, she’s using the Allen Neighborhood Center as a kitchen and selling her products at Tom’s Food Center; some of her cakes are also on the dessert menu at the University Club of MSU. Orders can also be placed through email at email@example.com or over the phone at 517-763-2479.
“I’d like to have enough space for events but have the place still feel intimate,” added Thompson Frazer. “Sweet Encounter needs to be in a space that exemplifies my brand and is a good price.”
For more information about Sweet Encounter, visit sweetencounterbakery.com.