How a Local Bakery is Using Its Talents to Advance Literacy
In January of 2022, Leah Schaffer, the owner, and sole-baker of Tiny Kitchen Bakeshop announced on her bakery’s Instagram page that she would be donating all of her January and February proceeds to The Literacy Cooperative. Soon after, The Literacy Cooperative reached out to Leah to conduct an interview to learn more about her and her bakery.
What prompted your decision to create the Tiny Kitchen Bakeshop?
Leah Schaffer: The idea for Tiny Kitchen Bakeshop (TKB) originated under a larger project called the Bakers Against Racism (BAR), which was created by a group of bakers in April of 2020, in the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests and COVID-19. This project called for home and professional bakers to host local bake sales to raise funds for different organizations within their community. Prior to this, I knew I wanted to do something, but I didn’t know what I could do, so once I stumbled upon BAR I figured that this was something that I could do to give back in some way. I then hosted three different bake sales in June, July, and August of 2020 for three different organizations; due to the positive feedback
The main focus of TKB is to increase awareness and access to these different organizations in our community; I wanted to share good news with others during a time when bad things were happening.
How did you stumble across the Bakers Against Racism, and are you still affiliated with the organization?
Leah: I came across BAR through a Google search when I was trying to find a way to give back. I was making donations here and there to organizations but wanted to do more.
BAR is an ongoing project where you can stay connected with them as needed, they have helped me gather marketing materials in the beginning. Currently, the organization acts as a great cheerleader for reassurance, and I still use them as a source of information when needed.
How did you learn to bake?
Leah: Both my grandmother and mother are very good bakers, so I grew up understanding the magic of baking and the love that can be extended to others when you share baked goods. However, I was not much of a baker until after college, in fact, I used to either burn or underbake things quite often; in order for me to get good at baking, it took a lot of practice, asking questions, and watching others bake.
Are you incorporating family recipes into your menu, or do you handcraft all of your recipes?
Leah: Some of the recipes are family recipes, for example, the frosted sugar cookie is one that has been handed down from generation to generation. Others are recipes that I have found and tweaked to make them my own. Baking is a science so when you have the basic chemistry together, you can start changing as you see fit.
Are you developing anything new at this time?
Leah: The vegan cakes are definitely something new because a lot of people have been requesting vegan items. It took me a while to find a vegan cake recipe that I like, but now that I have found one, I am sticking to it and just altering it to the taste I am going for.
Do you plan on expanding Tiny Kitchen Bakeshop?
Leah: For the past month, I have been working with two mentors that are a part of the SCORE program. They are helping me expand while staying true to the mission of Tiny Kitchen Bakeshop, so stay tuned!
The SCORE program is a national organization with 320 chapters in the United States, including one in Cleveland. They connect small business owners with mentors to help them identify areas for business growth, things to consider, as well as provide mentees with helpful resources.
How do you decide on the nonprofit to support?
Leah: So that is a process that I would love to see evolve, right now I do a Google search and look into how an organization tackles inclusivity, racism, poverty, and health disparities because these issues are issues that are important to me. However, I have opened up the organizations in which I support to customers, or recommendations from anyone that has an organization they’d like to be featured. My goal is to make this more of a collaborative effort within the TKB community.
What interested you in supporting The Literacy Cooperative?
Leah: Reading and literacy have been incredibly important in my personal and professional development. Having worked in healthcare for almost a decade, I understand how important literacy is, not just with education and employment, but as it relates to understanding health conditions and being able to thrive in society.
I love that The Literacy Cooperative talks about the whole-family approach because in healthcare we see that a lot. I enjoyed that you looked at it from a special angle that really gets to the heart of the issue. I think it meets a critical need at the foundation of society and it is a fundamental building block that needs to be addressed.
Since supporting The Literacy Cooperative, what new information have you learned?
Leah: Imagination Library was something that I had heard of from my sister who introduced it to me because her children are enrolled. It is such a magical program because it gets families involved, making reading a fun joint effort. It is easier for people to come to terms with these issues when there is a human component involved and I think Imagination Library and your contribution to it makes a difference.
Want to support? Make a purchase with Tiny Kitchen Bakeshop here.