Beyond the convection ovens, commercial refrigerators and scheduled workstations, baker supreme Abigail Mattingly is cooking up something special in Old Louisville.
It’s not just the giant stuffed cookies that she’s been known for around town the past couple of years. The UofL alumna has concocted a way to spread her hard-earned business knowledge and provide a workspace for other female bakers, sparing them some of the challenges she encountered in building up her own Bourbon Baekery LLC.
Her latest expansion, the Bourbon Baekehouse commercial kitchen and women’s development center, opened this month for its five clients plus Mattingly’s business. It isn’t open to the public yet, but the women hope to start some curbside service this fall and offer storefront sales early next year.
“As a female business owner, I feel I’ve faced a lot of business decisions but not been taken seriously,” Mattingly said, adding that some people also were skeptical because of her youth. “I wanted to make sure nobody is feeling that way in my space … I don’t want people to feel they got left behind.”
Besides tweaking recipes and refining their techniques, the women who sublease Baekehouse space can get guidance from Mattingly on matters ranging from setting up a limited liability company, as she did, to promoting their business on social media, with the tools she relies on to sell her cookies.
While she intends to establish a network and community for the women, she also wants to model that it’s OK to face fears about a new path in life.
“I’m scared every single day,” she said. “It was a scary decision to turn down my blueprint for life to bake.”
The 2017 graduate had earned a criminal justice degree, had been accepted into the Brandeis School of Law and was working at a Louisville legal office. Then in 2018 her mother gave her what became a pivotal present — a KitchenAid stand mixer.
Soon the lifetime baker, known on Instagram as BourbonBae, was cooking up a storm for fun and sharing her creations with others.
“I would drop them off, and my friends would say, ‘Man, you’ve got to sell these,’” she said.
So starting in February 2019, Mattingly would come home from paralegal work and plunge into a second shift in her 750-square-foot apartment where Bourbon Baekery was born in a play on words off her nickname.
“It was chaotic. There were sprinkles everywhere,” she said.
She took the leap to expand, going next to the Louisville kitchen Chef Space, a larger incubator for food entrepreneurs, where she perfected the fist-sized cookies with generous ingredients and names like Lemonade in Shade, Chunk Monk, Choco-Lit and (her favorite and top seller) Cinnamon Rollex. Now that Bourbon Baekehouse has launched, she cooks there.
She and fiancé Griffin Greevy take online orders weekly for a rotating list of flavors, bake them in small batches and deliver the cookies to four area businesses that serve as pickup spots for customers, increasing some foot traffic to those businesses also. They also sell them Sundays at an outdoor booth beside Logan Street Market and ship nationwide.
Mattingly had deferred her law school acceptance when her business exploded and the couple decided to make Bourbon Baekery a full-time operation. Then COVID-19 hit.
“I noticed that a lot of my friends were starting to lose their jobs. I wanted to start a place to help,” she said.
Although she had to veer away for now from her intended educational path, Mattingly doesn’t rule out a return to UofL for an advanced degree, maybe an MBA. And she felt that her UofL courses prepared her for what she is now trying to accomplish. “It was an exceptional education. The people were great.”
“School is actually one of my favorite things, I never missed class,” she said.
That and her 4.0 grade-point finish were especially impressive because she juggled her UofL coursework with weeknight shifts at UPS through the Metropolitan College program.
“I wouldn’t have been able to go to college without it,” Mattingly said, adding that she graduated debt free. “Metro College paid every single penny.”
So now she’s channeling that work ethic and determination into aiding like-minded businesswomen launch their futures.
“I think that my purpose lies with Bourbon Baekehouse,” Mattingly said. “I’m a great baker but I think I’m better at helping.”
“My big advice is it’s extremely scary, but just trust your gut. Work hard every single day. Work hard. It pays off.”