October Member of the Month: Nubian Simmons of The Pink Bakery / by Dorothy Collier

We're so thrilled to introduce you to our sixth Member-of-the-Month, Nubian Simmons! Nubian has built a wonderful Thank you so much for your thoughtful responses, Nubian!  The Pink Bakery, Inc. is TN’s 1st Big 8 Allergen Free Bakery. Nubian makes desserts and mixes for people with food allergies, becoming the change in the food industry and helping put Memphis on the map for healthier choices in the realm of baking!  Please go visit The Pink Bakery's site for more!

Each member-of-the-month answers five questions for our blog- the first three are standard questions we ask everyone, and the last two are specific to each creative entrepreneur. We hope you love Nubian's answers! 

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What is your favorite part about being a creative in Memphis? 

There are so many historical moments that have happened in Memphis which have shaped the consciousness of the people here. For a transplant like me (I'm from Milwaukee, WI whoop-whoop), being exposed to the beauty, the ugly, the joy and the pain of it all sparks a full range of emotion and gets the creative juices flowing. In each experience I encounter, there is opportunity for creative expression. In Memphis, the art is shown on an array of "canvases." From traditional murals around town to the painted rocks I have seen at a local farmer's market. Memphian's use any medium they can get their hands on to create! It is inspiring and equally motivating! 

What's your favorite part about your creative business?

As a former graphic designer turned TN’s 1st Big 8 allergen free bakery owner, I am learning to create on a new medium using new tools. The ingredients are so different from selecting colors off the color palette. It is a unique art form and I am determined to give my fellow allergen community all of the things, (within reason), a traditional bakery is able to offer. I really enjoy creating clean and classic design pieces, and I am bringing that style to my desserts. 

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What would you tell yourself if you could go back in time to your first day of starting a business? 

I love this question! I would tell myself, “that you will get to meet them” and “it is more than you thought it would be.”  

Anything I venture into I do it with a strong spiritual connection. When I started The Pink Bakery in 2012, I kept hearing, "they are waiting for you." I would especially hear this when I wanted to give up and was mentally drained from trying to figure out how to bake without the Big 8 foods (eggs, fin-fish, milk, peanuts, shell fish, soy, tree nuts and wheat). I never saw "their" faces but my heart knew what that meant. "They" were just like me, someone with food allergies looking to have "normal" life experiences.

After spending years learning about: baking in a non-traditional way (but make it taste traditional), food science, all the tests my desserts went through, distributors, food packaging, Trade marking, lawyers, Non Disclosure Agreements and inspections, I was ready to offer my desserts. I was ready to meet “them.”  Now I see “their” faces every time I am at the Farmers Market or a pop up shop. The people I had never met before but, worked so hard for, come to see me with that hope I truly am what I say I am, TN's 1st Big 8 Allergen Free Bakery. The smiles on their faces when they can come and select a dessert, warms me in a way I cannot put into words. I feel so blessed to give them that moment. Imagine never being able to have a cookie or a brownie from a bakery or a store because you will go into anaphylactic shock if that dessert was exposed to an allergen you are allergic to. Very scary stuff. My desserts ease that fear. They are safe. 

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When did you start baking? Have you always loved it? What would you say to someone who is trying to bake or cook with cleaner ingredients? 

I started playing around with baking in 2012. I was tired of either not being able to participate in "normal" eating activities or suffering if I was exposed to an allergen. My first baking attempts were terrible lol! My family members were my taste testers and they will tell you to this day how rough the beginning was! Whew, so glad we were able to get though that. My goal was never to become a baker. In fact, my baking level was subpar. I could open a box of whatever I was fixing, follow the instructions and add water!

The advice I would give to anyone attempting to learn how to bake would be, to be patient! Baking is a science and is so precise. The wrong amount of anything will throw the whole thing off. Learn about each ingredient and the role it plays in the recipe. Once you do that, you just need to practice...a lot! Oh and when it comes to cleaner eating, my advice is, that the quality of food you buy matters, you can taste the difference!

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Taking the Big 8 out of your baking seems like such a challenge. Have you had a hard time sourcing ingredients for your baked goods? What inspired you to initially move away from the Big 8? 

"Such a challenge" is an understatement!! I think learning to bake without the Big 8 foods was probably the most difficult thing I have ever done in my whole life! I approached it all wrong though. I thought it would be easy peasy. I was sooooo wrong!

Sourcing ingredients had been super challenging because I had to search for companies that did not allow the Big 8 allergens into their warehouses or facilities due to cross contamination. It took years! God is so good though because He allowed me to find what I needed so I could give it to my allergy community. 

The inspiration to move away from the Big 8 was that I am allergic to Milk and Wheat. I knew what it felt like to be excluded and so I learned how to bake without all of the Big 8 allergens (eggs, fin-fish, milk, peanuts, shell fish, soy, tree nuts and wheat) so that anyone who fell into those categories would feel included and not like a social pariah. I bake in a state inspected dedicated kitchen free of the Big 8 allergens so people don't have to worry about cross contamination (I have had reactions to cross contamination).

The Pink Bakery is TN’s 1st Big 8 Allergen Free Bakery. We make desserts for people with food allergies to the Big 8 foods. We use only organic, Non-GMO, gluten free, Fair Trade and responsibly sourced ingredients. The desserts are naturally vegan.

We are at the Collierville Farmers Market every Thursday from 8am-1pm and the Cooper Young Farmers Market every Saturday from 8am-1pm.