By Clair Stanley, NWSP Intern
Since early last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has kept many people from eating at restaurants. But for those who live with severe food allergies, avoiding food not cooked in their own kitchen has been a reality since long before 2020.
The Pink Bakery is hoping to change that by making premium, top allergy-free baking mixes for people who have food allergies. From brownies to cakes and frosting, Pink Bakery makes naturally vegan products with organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, and fair trade ingredients in a facility free of all top allergens.
Nubian Simmons, the owner of Pink Bakery, threw her hat in the ring five years ago without any culinary experience to see what she could do as she experimented baking without wheat, milk, or eggs. Being allergic to milk and wheat herself, Nubian wanted to give people with life-threatening allergies more enjoyable dessert options.
“Growing up, it was tough with the options that were presented to me. Because at that time, the allergen-free space was really new, so the products that were available to me tasted like cardboard and rice cakes,” she said. “I just felt like, since I have such a particular palette, I deserved better than what was being presented to me.”
Pink Bakery was originally planned to open in Memphis, Tennessee, but after looking at over 100 properties, Nubian was unable to find what she needed. The pandemic made this worse and her family insisted she come back to Milwaukee to build her business here. Nubian admits she was hesitant but believed in the universe guiding her back, where “everything just worked out,” she said.
After not finding anything last summer, Nubian returned again in the fall and found her current location.
“Greg Martin gets all the credit,” she said. “I was willing to give up on my search. I was so tired of looking, and he was like, ‘Just look one more time,’ and this place was online. And when I came by, it all worked out.”
In Memphis, Nubian also made allergy-free cakes for private events. For brides that weren’t able to have a traditional cake-cutting ceremony at their wedding or children that couldn’t smash their birthday cakes at parties, Pink Bakery provided new alternatives to help people enjoy celebrations that called for flavorful desserts. Over the years, Nubian has found new ways to serve individuals and families who otherwise wouldn’t be able to enjoy cakes and the experiences that come with them.
Life-threatening food allergies put a big burden on those who enjoy cooking, baking, or having meals with family and friends. Pink Bakery seeks to change the status quo because they believe that no one should be excluded from life’s biggest moments because of a food allergy.
The Pink Bakery is the first Black-owned premium top allergen-free baking mix company in the U.S. according to its website. Contributions to its success include a grant from Beyoncé’s Beygood Foundation, which is a collaboration with the NAACP to support Black-owned businesses during the pandemic.
“I’m forever thankful to Beyoncé,” Nubian said.
As she settles into the Near West Side, Nubian looks ahead to upcoming projects that need funding. In addition to getting the doors rekeyed and some furniture for the office, her “big ask” items include a new $12,000 oven and a $185,000 bag-to-box machine that would replace Nubian and everything she does by hand.
The need for these things hasn’t stopped her from making bigger plans, however. Nubian hopes to go global with Pink Bakery and has a goal to be in Williams Sonoma. On a more local level, she wants to have a presence in the Brewers and Bucks stadiums, hotels, and airlines– put simply, “anywhere that people have food allergies.”
“We’re not thought of in any of those places, so I would love to see some of those things,” Nubian said.