We spoke with Kelly Childs, owner of Kelly Childs Enterprises, and Kelly’s Realfood Bakery + Dessert Emporium. She’s building an empire on guilt-free delicious comfort food made with the healthiest ingredients. We found out what it’s like to work with family day in and out, which is the most stressful cake to make, and the craziest customer reaction when they couldn’t get their favourite cupcake.
How did you decide to open a restaurant and then a bakery too?
The decision was not pre-planned at all. We morphed to the beat of the people. Our bakery sales at Kindfood were at par and sometimes surpassing our food sales every day, and we just simply ran out of space. Kelly’s Realfood Bakery + Dessert Emporium had to open, and funny enough, once we did that, the food sales at Kindfood AND the bakery exploded in both locations. Who would’ve thought?
Why is your bakery FREE of SO many things?
We make our treats free of things we don’t want to eat, like lard, artificial food colour, refined sugar and refined white flour because it’s best for our health to avoid them. We think it’s important to make our products free of these things so that everyone can simply enjoy indulging without the guilt or ill-effects of toxic red food colouring, processed sugars and flours.
Beside “love”, what makes your desserts taste so good that people can’t believe they are vegan and gluten-free?
Many of our baked goods require a 2 or 3 step process, like roasting our bananas in the oven and then cooling them before we assemble our Skinny Cookies, or emulsifying evaporated cane juice with coconut oil before we make our Chocolate Chip Cookies. We believe the extra steps we take make a big difference in the end result- but we do it because we “love” it, so maybe it’s simply EXTRA love that make our desserts so special.
How do you manage towork with your family day in and out?
I LOVE them! With the deepest of gratitude and gratefulness, I realize that I am such a lucky person to be able to share my biggest passion (helping people change their lives through delicious healthy food) every day. I am so blessed. By being grateful for my life, it takes the ego out of the relationship and puts the love back in. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t difficult at times, but practicing gratefulness puts it all quickly back into perspective and allows JOY to come through. I mean, we have so much to celebrate…the love of our fans on social media and our website, and love from those coming through our front door, the happy smiles we put on people’s faces every day, getting to engage with people around the world with my personal website, and helping people get healthy with delicious food too!! Hey, we get to do exactly what we want to every day, TOGETHER. How many people can say that?!
You work with your daughter Erinn. If she were one of your desserts, which would she be and why?
Erinn would simply be my Dulce De Leche Cupcake. This cupcake is brilliant and delicate, classy, yet complicated and mysterious all in one package. And to top it all off, it is our #1 favourite cupcake and“Best in Show” prize winner with our fans, and Erinn is so loved by everyone too. The Dulce De Leche is the perfect choice….just like her.
Are the desserts you bake at Kelly’s considered junk food? Are they health food?
Junk food? I’ve never had it. I like to think that our desserts and sweets are the BEST healthy desserts you could ever have. We source the best ingredients to make our desserts, even our “food colouring” comes from flower petals!
Who is one person you’d love to taste your baked goods?
My dad. He died in 1995 very suddenly of a brain aneurysm and I never got to say good-bye and thank him for the life that he instilled in me. He is a huge part of why I’m where I am now as a strong, passionate woman, taking on the world. In honour of him we created the “Poppa Russ Cupcake” at Kelly’s. We have it on our menu two days a week and it sells out so fast! It’s crazy!! It was my dad’s favourite combination of a banana cake, lemon filling and chocolate buttercream. I know he’s with us every day smiling down at what we’ve all accomplished.
What’s the craziest reaction someone has had when they have shown up to find out that you are sold out of their favourite flavour?
Tears. That was the saddest…. We actually have had people get kind of angry and become very disappointed (yes we have been known to console people with cupcakes). We try our best to let people know that it’s beyond our control if a certain flavour sells out, so we encourage our customers to call ahead to reserve their cupcakes if they want something specific.
Who does all of the baking?
It started out with just me. Then in 2010, Erinn helped part time and eventually full time. And presently, we have a staff of 6 permanent bakers, which allows Erinn and I to work on other aspects of growing the business. It’s very exciting.
What’s your favourite dessert to eat?
Kelly’s Triple Fudge Brownie, drizzled with our Caramel Sauce, with a side of our Chocolate Vegan Ice Cream, and topped with our Coconut Whipped Cream. (We’d like a few of those right now!)
What’s your favourite dessert to make?
Definitely the Mile High Brownie. I have to say that it has this whimsical look about it and it is too much fun to make. Piles and piles of butter cream frosting,and drizzles of chocolate and caramel! (We’d like a few of those right now, too!)
Is it stressful making wedding cakes that get photographed and saved forever?
Yes, it really can be. We are really becoming more and more popular at weddings due to the fact that we look after so many allergens (like peanuts, gluten, dairy and eggs) and are vegan and healthy too. Every attention to detail cannot be overlooked when it comes to weddings. It’s the MOST important day of so many people’s lives and these pictures are hopefully, cherished forever. Yes, the most stress for sure.
What’s the one kitchen appliance you couldn’t live without?
What’s your best beauty secret?
Coconut Oil. I use it on everything, my skin, my hair, and I’m able to eat to it too. And my husband uses it every day too on his skin and hair. (More reasons behind her happy glow in this post Kelly just wrote on turning 50!)
What’s your recipe for success?
Love what you do!! And when I work 140 hours a week at it (maybe more because when I sleep I dream it too), it exhilarates me because I LOVE it!! For me, my ‘work’ IS my life. There is no distinction between the two. I ‘walk the walk’ and ‘talk the talk’ and I am this way in both my private life and my ‘work’ life. Living authentically is the best way to live.
What’s to come that excites you the most?
To be able to continue sharing my passions with the rest of the world! There are so many exciting ventures and opportunities ahead including writing my own book, more locations, and the new Childs + Weatherbie pantry also excites me! Erinn and I are totally stoked to introduce a new ‘home’ line to the world in the near future.
I also would love to have my own Food Network Show with Erinn. We make such a great team and we both want to make the world a better place through eating right and LOVING your life to the fullest every day. Now THAT is exciting.
Any chance you’ll open a shop in Toronto?
Never say never… I can’t tell you our secrets. We do have the demand for it and we have a multitude of people that want either one of our stores immediately. We just haven’t finalized any of those plans.
For more information on Kelly and where you can enjoy her delicious baked treats, visit kellysxo.com. Follow her on twitter @kellychildsxo, @KellysBake, and @KindFood, and like their cupcakes on Facebook too!