Indianapolis native Mallory Webb came to Birmingham to attend Samford University, where she earned her degree in sociology and religion. Towards the end of her days in college, though, she began to see a different future in store for her — a sweeter one filled with cakes and her own business, Daughters Baking. These days, that business is a reality, and she makes absolutely gorgeous cakes in the “naked cake” style, with exposed edges revealing contrasting colors and textures. They are as beautiful as they are delicious, and they are requested for weddings, birthdays, local restaurants and more. We sat down with Mallory to talk about taking risks and enjoying the sweet stuff in life. Meet today’s FACE of Birmingham, Mallory Webb.
When did you realize baking was your calling and that you wanted to build a career out of it?
I was working at Urban Standard downtown as a barista while I was in college, and I had a miscommunication with someone — a customer who was a friend. I guess I kind of stood him up by accident. I didn’t realize we had made an official plan. So afterward, I was like, “Oh, I’m so sorry! I’ll bake you something!” And after I left that conversation, I was like, I don’t know why I said that, because I’ve never baked anything. It just came out of the blue, I guess. I thought it sounded cute and feminine. He requested blueberry muffins, so I found a random blueberry muffin recipe, and I figured out how to make them. It just made me so happy! I think I ended up making five more different types of muffins that weekend. Every time I baked, it made me so happy. So I decided this is what I want to do because I just like it.
How did you come to make your signature “naked cakes” and eventually launch your own business?
The baker at Urban Standard had to go out of town sometimes and needed someone to cover for her, so she started training me. Her husband was in his medical residency, so she knew six months in advance that she was leaving, so she trained me to take over her position. I took over, and they let me do whatever I wanted. I chose to use their ingredients to teach myself new things. I taught myself how to make pies and different types of cakes, and I came across the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook, which has directions for the naked cake style that we are known for. I made one, and I loved it. I thought they were really pretty, and people really liked them.
I was with one of my older friends at church one night, and I just randomly said, “I think I might want to sell cakes.” She said, “I’ll buy one!” I think the first cake I sold was a red velvet cake for her in the naked cake style, and then it trickled down to other moms in my church community by word of mouth. I started just owning it.
Can you tell us about Daughters Baking’s offerings?
Right now, we just introduced our fall menu. We have pumpkin brown butter cake with pecan-pie filling and pie crumb in it — it is one of my faves, and it’s gluten-free. Our bestseller is blueberry-lemon — it’s blueberry cake with cheesecake and white-chocolate milk crumb and lemon buttercream. We have Nutella orange cake, strawberry champagne cake, and I really like the flavors in the almond amaretto with coffee buttercream and an almond crumb. We have about 10 cakes right now.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs who want to take the leap and follow their passion?
Write your dreams down. Write everything you want down, and look at it and think, What is one thing I can do to get closer to that? And take risks with small steps toward your dream.
What is most challenging about your job?
I think what’s most challenging is feeling overwhelmed with all you have to do to run a business. There have been certain seasons where I feel tightness in my chest because I feel I have so much to do, but it’s great because it means my business is growing. I think I was still working part-time at Urban and making cakes on the side and growing the business, and someone ordered a cake, and I literally burst into tears [Laughs] because I felt so overwhelmed with all my other orders. It’s been a lot, but as I’m delegating more things, I’m feeling more normal.
Right now, it’s really rewarding to build a team and work with people. We just laugh and have fun. And the opportunity to build a healthy workplace is really cool. I want people to feel good about coming to their job. It’s so rewarding to see laughter and people having fun at work.
What do you like to do when not working?
I like to travel. And I like to go out to dinner and have fun with friends. I love restaurants and food.
What are your favorite local restaurants?
Do you have any mentors or role models, and, if so, what have they taught you?
There’s an older woman who doesn’t live here anymore, but she was so loving towards people. I feel like every person she interacted with, she just honored them, no matter who they were. You could just feel that she was being herself, and she was being real and caring. I’ve always been inspired by people who you just know are being real.
If you could go back 10 years, what advice would you give yourself?
To chill out, to enjoy my life … I was very different 10 years ago. I came from a way more rebellious past, which usually surprises people. I had a lot of stuff I hadn’t worked through, and it kind of showed itself in every area of my life. But that never really was who I am. I feel like I’m becoming more myself now in my life. I’ve done a lot of work on discovering who I really am, and I feel more comfortable in my skin. I would just tell myself to enjoy my life, be like a kid, and don’t overthink everything or get worked up. We are given this life to enjoy.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
Starting a business
What is your best piece of advice?
Take risks — I just feel like we can’t get anywhere unless we take risks, even though it’s scary. All this stuff about vulnerability is so trendy right now, but it’s so true. Living a vulnerable life and putting yourself in situations where you feel exposed and scared, it becomes the most life-giving way of living. I did salsa-dancing classes last year, and it felt scary, but it was so much fun! Putting yourself in situations where you feel vulnerable is so rewarding; so many doors open up when we take risks.
Besides faith, family and friends, name three things you can’t live without.
I love avocados, laughter, and I love dancing. I don’t think I could live without dancing. I salsa dance, and we dance at church, and I dance at home.
Thanks for the interview, Mallory, and thanks to Eric & Jamie Photography for the beautiful photos!
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