Vendor Spotlight: Kind Baking Co.

Apr 25, 2021 by

By Layla Khoury-Hanold

It’s a cool, spring morning on the season opening of LEAP’s Grandin Village Farmers Market. I can’t wait to check out new vendor, Kind Baking Company, helmed by Roanoke native Bryn McDaniel. Only, I’ve mixed up the hours and arrived too late—she is sold out of her delectable cookies, cakes, and banana bread. She still has plenty of smiles to offer; even though her mask obscures her mouth, I can tell she’s smiling by how her eyes crinkle at the corners. I return the following Saturday to try again. This time, my daughter and I score a six-pack of chocolate cream cookies, a feat of baking sorcery that yields a buttery, chocolate-y cookie that’s chewy yet crisp. It eats like a grown-up chocolate chip cookie, though my nearly-five-year-old happily devours one, too. We smile at our shared Saturday treat.

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It’s just the sort of moment that inspired McDaniel to found Kind Baking Co. last August.

McDaniel developed a passion for baking from her grandmother, who was especially known for her pound cake. Her grandma had it on hand just in case someone stopped in and she also made the pound cakes McDaniel served at her wedding. Every Christmas, McDaniel helped her grandmother make and deliver pound cakes to friends and family. “I thought, ‘she’s putting so much time and work into making them.’ I didn’t realize what a gift it was to give to someone until I started doing it myself.”

This time last year, McDaniel was working as a behavioral therapist doing in-home therapy with individuals with disabilities. During that time, her grandmother passed away from COVID-19. Though McDaniel was grieving, she says, “I thought ‘how can I take the things she taught me and be able to take it forward?’ I started Kind as a way of being able to carry on the tradition of family recipes and it became something people were really interested in.”

Photo by Summerside Creative Studio

A photographer friend offered to take some pictures because “everything looks so good.” In mid-August McDaniel started an Instagram account and began taking orders for her cakes and cookies. At that time, she was still working full-time as a behavioral therapist. But by the end of September, she left her full- time job and launched Kind Baking Co. in the run-up to the holiday season. She joined the LEAP Kitchen to have access to a commercial kitchen and had the opportunity to sell at LEAP’s winter markets before coming on board as a full-time vendor for the spring season.

Photo by Summerside Creative Studio

LEAP is an amazing non-profit,” McDaniel says. “We have such a lovely market where we can get everything from baked goods to meats to veggies to other made goods. I’m really excited and happy to be a part of that program.”

For her spring market debut on April 17, she offered raspberry lemon bread, banana bread, blueberry crumb cake, and a couple of cookies, including blackberry almond shortbread and the sought-after chocolate cream cookie, which often elicits a “what’s in that cookie?” response (answer: ground chocolate cookie and buttercream). Many of her ingredients, like jam, eggs, and flour, are locally sourced. A vase of fresh flowers from Thornfield Farm adorns her table, too. Supporting other farmers and vendors is important to McDaniel and the ethos behind Kind Baking Co.

Photo by Summerside Creative Studio

“I’m excited about the almond shortbread cookies and am hoping to change the preserve filling as the seasons change,” McDaniel says. “Moving forward in the market, I hope to be able to offer more savory things like bacon or chives from different vendors, so I can branch outside the sweet realm of baked goods.”

When McDaniel was still working full-time, baking provided a creative outlet and a way to connect with her grandmother after she passed. When she took baking on as her full-time gig, she had reservations that baking might come to feel too much like a job. But McDaniel discovered how excited she is to get up and do it every day, inspired by how much she loves making and giving gifts to people. “I got that from my grandma,” she says. “When I show up at a friend’s house, I always have cookies or a piece of

Photo by Summerside Creative Studio

As for what she envisions for the future of her business, McDaniel says, “I hope that whatever Kind becomes, that it is very integrated with community engagement. I hope that there’s a space where like-minded people can gather and maybe shop or share time over a piece of cake.”


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