“Baking is all about chemistry,” says Lindsay Beckner, who co-owns FiddleCakes, a Nashville-based bakery, cafe and catering business that can accommodate box lunches for 30 or cupcakes for 500. “You have to be very exact. There’s little room for error.”
Beckner may be referring to what determines a successful recipe for, say, a muffin or a scone, but she could just as well be talking about what determines a successful business, like the one she and fellow co-owner Tasha Ross have built during the past year.
The idea of opening a bakery started with Ross, but the pieces did not fall into place until Professor of Accounting Germain Böer introduced her to Beckner, a fellow Vanderbilt alumna who was working in finance and catering on the side. Ross and Beckner clicked, and their business plan came together quickly: They opened FiddleCakes just five months after their initial meeting.
“Coming from an HOP [human and organizational performance] background at Owen, I knew one of the toughest things would be building a team,” says Ross, who previously worked for a startup software company. “Fortunately we found that we share the same vision.”
An important part of that vision is providing customers with tasty vegan and gluten-free meals. Demand for the latter has grown in recent years as more doctors prescribe restricted diets for those suffering from conditions like autism and celiac disease, the autoimmune disorder caused by gluten proteins in certain grains.
Forgoing eggs and traditional flour makes Ross and Beckner’s task of operating their bakery all the more challenging. “The recipes are much more temperamental than they would be otherwise,” Beckner explains. “Sometimes the mixes don’t rise, and you have to start over again.” The challenge, though, as they see it, is well worth the effort.
“It makes all the difference when, for example, a parent whose child suffers from celiac disease thanks you personally,” Ross says. “Running a successful business is rewarding, but having a social impact on top of that is even better.”