Founded by Pastry Chef Jill Donaldson, PastryBase is a food business based in Richmond, VA, that created a line of baking products called LillyBean. LillyBean Baking Mixes & Kits are Gluten-Free & Vegan, with the goal of making scrumptious natural baking easy, fun, and accessible to all ages and skill levels, especially in the vegan and gluten-free communities! Whether it’s their Sofi-award winning Gooey Blondie Mix, a colorful Unicorn Cupcake Kit, or a Gingerbread Tiny House Kit, their products bring joy and sprinkles wherever they're found! They’re proud to say that the very first store to carry their products was Ellwood Thompson's almost 3 years ago. LillyBean products can now be found in hundreds of stores around the country, including Wegmans, Whole Foods, and Food Lion, along with some amazing small local grocers and food shops, farmer's markets, and online.
Because of COVID-19, many of the trade shows PastryBase usually attends along with other Virginia Foods Makers were cancelled. They count on these trade shows to meet buyers from stores all over the country and to introduce them to LillyBean products in hopes that they will want to carry them in their stores. Like many businesses, PastryBase has shifted to focus much more on online sales and, so far, it has been working for them. They've been able to diversify their market digitally, meaning they no longer only sell products on their own website, but through virtual farmers markets (Seasonal Roots and RVAg), smaller online boutiques, other online retailers (Etsy), and through online wholesaling portals (Faire), where retail stores and makers can meet digitally instead of at trade shows. There is, of course, a learning curve and PastryBase definitely misses all of the in-person interactions both with buyers and with their own customers.
PastryBase considers themselves lucky to have such a great group of food maker friends and allies in the RVA community, from their fellow food businesses at Hatch Kitchen RVA where their warehouse is located, to the RealLocal RVA food community, to other members of the Virginia's Finest Specialty Foods and Beverages with the Virginia Department of Agriculture. They all look out for each other, sharing opportunities they hear about for new online markets, virtual farmers markets, and lots of new ways of doing business. One way they’ve started to work outside the box is by starting to export their products internationally. It seems that people all around the world, not just in the US, have rekindled a love for baking at home, which is one silver lining in this terrible situation. The Virginia Department of Agriculture has been supportive of small businesses looking to export. They sponsored PastryBase in attending a trade show in Dubai last year and PastryBase has doubled down on taking advantage of that opportunity now that they have the time to do so. Their first order to Dubai is en route.
The Richmond community and PastryBase’s online community have all been supportive of their business from the beginning, but especially during this time. A way to help support this business is by spreading the word about their LillyBean Baking Mixes & Kits to your friends and family with food allergies, or just to those who love to bake. All of their products are Gluten-Free, Vegan, Soy-Free, & Artificial Color Free. PastryBase products ship anywhere in the USA, and their Baking Kits make the perfect gifts if you’re ever looking for a unique present. For more information about PastryBase, visit their website at www.pastrybase.com.