Lauren Shields graduated from high school in June, but she had a small problem.
Shields eats only gluten-free food and could not find a cake she could eat for her graduation party.
So, she decided to make her own celebratory dessert. Her family and friends loved it so much that they began asking her to bake items for them.
Eventually, the requests became so ubiquitous that she created her own business, Bakin’ Me Crazy.
“I didn’t really decide to do it,” the Waterloo resident said. “I just got so many orders from people.”
Shields started baking at about age 8. It was a passion cultivated by her family.
“I always bake cookies with my grandma around Christmas time,” she said. “Both of my grandmas really love baking, and I think that’s where I got it from.”
As she got older, Shields continued baking, using YouTube to teach herself new skills and techniques.
“Whenever I’m baking, I can show myself and how I truly am,” Shields, who also works full-time, said. “In high school, I would always use baking as a stress reliever. It’s kind of my happy place.”
After several months of baking unofficially, Shields at the start of this year wanted to make her business official by getting a professional kitchen to work in.
She accelerated that process after the Monroe County Health Department notified her she could not continue baking in her home because it violated state law to cook and sell goods in the way she was.
Shields put out a call for help on Facebook, and Mike Karban, president of the Hecker Commercial Club, said his organization could offer its kitchen.
Shields jumped at that opportunity, also purchasing her business name and setting up a limited liability company.
She baked for the first time in the new space last weekend.
“It was great,” Shields said. “I produced almost 500 cookies. I have a lot of Valentine’s Day orders.”
Cookies will probably not be a fixture of Bakin’ Me Crazy because they are so time consuming, but Shields has other desserts she specializes in.
“At first, I wanted to specialize in just gluten free, but the market right now isn’t able to handle just gluten free,” Shields explained. “I do specialize in cakes and French macaroons.”
To learn more or place an order, visit Bakin’ Me Crazy, LLC on Facebook.