Fri | Aug 12, 2022

Asha Atkinson is the Flour Girl

Published:Thursday | August 4, 2022 | 12:10 AMKrysta Anderson/Staff Reporter
Half of a century deserves a celebration of tasty proportion. Atkinson did a number on this, topped with berries.
Half of a century deserves a celebration of tasty proportion. Atkinson did a number on this, topped with berries.
Asha Atkinson, better known as the Flour Girl, is seen in action decorating a cake.
Asha Atkinson, better known as the Flour Girl, is seen in action decorating a cake.
Atkinson’s advice to budding bakers is to be patient. Don’t limit or doubt yourself; embrace failures as part of the journey to success; be open to feedback and see it as an opportunity to hone your craft.
Atkinson’s advice to budding bakers is to be patient. Don’t limit or doubt yourself; embrace failures as part of the journey to success; be open to feedback and see it as an opportunity to hone your craft.
One of the most memorable yet taxing orders she receives are for weddings. But she enjoys the look of love and appreciation on the faces of the newlyweds as they savour each sweet bite of cake.
One of the most memorable yet taxing orders she receives are for weddings. But she enjoys the look of love and appreciation on the faces of the newlyweds as they savour each sweet bite of cake.
A rose by any other name would be just as sweet. And so is this Flour Girl cake.
A rose by any other name would be just as sweet. And so is this Flour Girl cake.
Classic and elegant in stature, this customised cake's grandeur is in its unique flavour.
Classic and elegant in stature, this customised cake's grandeur is in its unique flavour.
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“What are you waiting on?” was the question that Asha Atkinson’s sister asked her as the two sat down in the kitchen. The food lover had taken up the culinary hobby, but at a crossroads in career options, Atkinson baked her way into becoming the flour girl.

Today, she offers melt-in-your-mouth cakes for all occasions, decorated sugar cookies, banana bread, as well as other pastries. “I would say my speciality lies within rustic cake designs, as well as decorated sugar cookies,” she told Food.

Birthed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Flour Girl has flourished since its inception. The professional has been intentional in her efforts to engage her clients from the moment they order, to post-delivery to ensure their level of satisfaction is met at the highest standard. “Providing quality customer service is chief among my priorities, as I know this is not widely experienced.”

The avid baker first discovered her love for desserts as a teenager, being hooked on television shows like Cupcake Wars, which aired on the Food Network as Cake Boss on E News. With a young and impressionable mind at work, she found herself amazed by the unique ability to create beautiful pastries while under significant pressure. Talk about a diamond in the making.

“I believe it developed over time. It was never something that I saw myself doing full time. I always imagined that it would be a part-time business venture. It was more of a hobby throughout my teenage years, and the passion grew tremendously when I moved back home from college in 2019,” she said, adding that those who had a taste of her desserts would marvel at the flavour profiles. That was all the confirmation she needed.

Since opening her bakery in March 2020, the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I didn’t imagine being where I am now in just two years,” the pastry maker declared, expressing gratitude for the growth and support. “I think people love my desserts because I am very particular about everything, including taste, design, and consistency,” she said.

With many clients already bringing ideas to the forefront, the creative is merely the conduit connecting dreams and reality. This, she says, is her preference, since she can deliver exactly what they want. “On the other end of the spectrum would be the clients that give me complete creative freedom. This can be tricky, so I provide guidance by sending pictures so I can get a better understanding of what they like and dislike,” she added.

Her most memorable experiences have also been the most stressful orders to date: wedding cakes. She has bounced back from her oven breaking down while baking; returning to Kingston after an Ocho Rios delivery, only to find the cake stand in the back seat and having to drive straight back, making it in time, to having to walk across a stream and a dilapidated bridge with a two-tiered cake to get to the wedding venue because Google maps went off course. “Thankfully, there was a great relief at the end of these experiences based on the favourable reviews from the newlyweds.” Sitting next to her en route to deliveries and by her side on her journey, her mother.

SEVERAL SACRIFICES

With such a demanding schedule, striking a healthy work-life balance hasn’t been easy. Riddled by sleepless nights, she continues to make several sacrifices, all in the name of entrepreneurship. But she remains steadfast in building her business and while temporary, the dedication is necessary. “I try not to compare myself to others in the industry, but instead focus more on quality improvement. I believe there is space for everyone, and we all bring our unique flavour and style,” the baker revealed.

Not only is she putting in the work to master her craft, but she is also nurturing young minds from an early age to pursue their passion. Atkinson started a summer camp this year dedicated to igniting the passion for baking. “I have a lot of experience interacting with children. I taught swimming to toddlers for five years, and I have always enjoyed connecting with children. This idea to host the camp stemmed from that. I wanted to provide an opportunity for children who have an interest in baking, to further explore and hone this skill.”

The experience, thus far, has been exciting for the campers as well as the teacher. Students bake new desserts each week, but it is not limited to culinary pursuits. They are also able to explore outdoor building activities, sing songs and do art and craft; all in an attempt to limit screen times and promote being outside again. “This is undoubtedly an initiative we intend to continue.”

With a myriad of concepts to explore, she is thankful for the love and support from loved ones, her mother in particular, who had been her rock throughout this process. “My mom is the best! She has shown her unconditional support in countless ways, from clean-up duty to delivery duty, to packaging high-volume orders, encouragement in times of distress, and so much more! It is comforting to know that I can always count on her for ongoing support.” Her dream is to open a storefront with her mother right by her side.

krysta.anderson@gleanerjm.com