The gourmet treats and pastries seen on TV baking shows or your Instagram feed are beautiful to look at, but difficult for an aspiring home baker to recreate. North Carolina native Kristen Baileys is looking to fill that skills gap.
His Raleigh-based startup, Bake Eat Love (BEL), caters to bakers of all experience levels, from tweens to adults. Its flagship product is a subscription kit that teaches you how to cook a different gourmet dessert every month. Each box includes pre-measured non-perishable ingredients, a recipe card, online how-to videos, necessary cooking tools, and even email support.
“We believe there is an equation to be able to whip up a delicious gourmet treat,” said Baileys, co-founder and CEO of the startup. “You don’t have to be a professional baker or pastry chef to cook like one.”
This fall, Bake Eat Love was selected as one of 11 finalists for the 34th cohort of NC IDEA’s $50,000 SEED grants. [On Tuesday, NC IDEA revealed the seven winners of the SEED grants at its 2022 Ecosystem Summit in Winston-Salem. Among the recipients were Triangle-area startups LabRunner, Phase Dock Inc., ROSA Technology, Social Cascade, and Spring & Mulberry. The links are to prior GrepBeat profiles; we’ll roll out a story on Phase Dock in the coming weeks.]
While working full-time at Pendo, the Raleigh-based software unicorn—Baileys was ultimately chief growth officer—she launched Bake Eat Love alongside her husband Nick in 2019 in hopes of inspiring people to “cook something different”. This mission reflects a desire she had before the company existed.
While on vacation in 2018, Baileys asked her parents for a baking kit that included all the tools she needed to make gourmet treats she’s seen on TV. She quickly discovered that the kits containing the items she was looking for (baking knowledge, tools and pre-measured ingredients) did not exist. This led her to wonder, “Maybe I could create my dream product and see if others wanted something similar.”
Turns out, a lot of people were craving something similar: the startup has shipped over 20,000 cooking kits to date.
With new themes every quarter, the ‘BEL Box’ is designed to use specialty ingredients and encourage people to make recipes they wouldn’t normally make. This quarter, for example, has the theme “Showstopper”. Some upcoming recipes include ginger cake rolls, peppermint chocolate tarts, and tiramisu-filled cupcakes.
Baileys said Bake Eat Love’s recipes tend to “spin a timeless classic” and are aimed at teens, tweens and adults. These approaches differentiate the startup from other baking education companies, such as Red Velvet NYC (which focuses on traditional recipes) and Baketivity (which primarily targets children).
“I would say our recipes are more advanced, but you don’t have to be an expert,” she said. “We take you wherever you are and break it all down.”
Baileys said many recipes call for a specialty ingredient, but it can be expensive and you usually only need a tiny bit. With Bake Eat Love, you don’t have to worry about sourcing, measuring or wasting.
“It makes for a fun and special cooking experience that you don’t have to spin your wheels on,” she said.
In addition to its subscription boxes, BEL offers B2B services, including corporate virtual cooking classes and personalized baking kit giveaways. Interestingly, Baileys said the majority of business categories were for technology companies.
Currently, the Bake East Love team has two full-time employees (including Baileys) as well as two part-time contractors, including her husband and co-founder, Nick.
For 2023, Kristen said Bake Eat Love will focus on growing its core products, selling the subscription boxes and working with its B2B customers.