Two key ingredients fed Aundrea Dumas’s growth from baker to founder, owner and CEO of Legends Foods LLC: the influence and wisdom of her mother, and research that led her to beneficial relationship with the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center (UGA SBDC) that continues today.
Dumas, a Savannah native, learned to cook from her grandmother, MaBelle, and mother, Shirley. She entered the food and beverage industry with her first product, MaBelle’s ShrabCakes®, in 2006. They were selling in 214 Kroger locations and 880 Publix stores when COSTCO came calling. Dumas knew she’d need help adjusting her business model to manage the demand.
“I did some research and discovered the UGA SBDC at Clayton State University,” she said. “UGA SBDC guided me with a lot of strategies to put my business on the right path. I learned a lot about running my business at an important time.”
On May 4, 2010, Shirley was diagnosed with cancer that took her within the year. Dumas promised her beloved mother she would keep her memory alive through baking.
“My mom was full of laughter,” Dumas said. “People loved to be around her. She loved to bake, and one of her favorite foods was cake. So, to commemorate her life, I decided to start an online bakery on her birthday [October 1] in 2012.”
From her home, Dumas created Shirley Cakes – square cakes in flavors like lavender, red velvet, lemon, orange cream and chocolate – to represent her mother’s life. Her sought-after samples, Cutie Cakes, were miniature versions of Shirley Cakes and became a second line. After cooking in her basement for nearly a year, Dumas opened Shirley Cutie Cakes Bakery in a 600-square-foot storefront in Conyers.
“I’d never had a physical location before,” she said. “When I built it out, I found out it wasn’t so easy. Zoning, agriculture, water and sewer and the county were all involved. It drained the cash reserves I had planned to use to hire staff.”
Without a staff, Dumas found herself running the bakery from front to back, baking everything from custom cakes, wedding cakes to cake pops and sweet potato bars – and she was drained. One exhausting day, she leaned against a wall and slid down to the floor, in tears.
“I talked to Mom, which I still do, and asked her, ‘what do I do?’ She told me, ‘You’re working hard, not smart.’ It sounded like she was right in the bakery with me. I asked her again, ‘What do I do?’”
Dumas decided to prepare the batters and frostings in advance so that when people ordered, they would be ready to shake, pour and bake.
And from that, Eazy Peazy Cakes was born. Dumas started making her batters in advance and stored them in jugs. She tested the batter and frostings with her bakery customers, asking them to try the product in their homes. She loved their response: “My house smells like your bakery!”
Dumas sold her bakery in 2015 to focus on her new product. After drawing Kroger’s interest for Eazy Peazy Cakes, she met again with the UGA SBDC.
“My consultant told me I needed a business plan to finance my growth,” she said. “I was going to have to show the bank my plan and projections. She guided me on drafting the plan and told me more about certification. Kroger’s supplier diversity director told me she could do a lot for me if I was certified.”
Dumas worked to gain several women-owned business certifications that opened more opportunities. Eazy Peazy Cakes now sell on Macy’s online store and have appeared on QVC. Dumas recently received a deal with Walmart, and Eazy Peazy Cakes are expected to be on their shelves the third quarter of 2023.
For More Information: University of Georgia SBDC | (706) 542-2762