Senior Naudia Whitlock and her mom, Kristy Wooten, are mixing up the idea of a typical bakery. The mother-daughter duo behind ‘Momo’s Mix Up,’ an at home bakery that supplies several dozen batches of delectable cookies weekly, is figuring out how to balance their relationship, a budding business and everything in between.
The bakery was never an intended plan for Wooten, especially considering she does not have much of a sweet tooth herself.
“I hated baking before, because I actually don’t even like sweets,” Wooten said.
Her dislike of sweets was not the only surprising concept though; ‘Momo’s Mix Up’ as a whole came as a surprise.
“This kind of just recently happened in the last couple of years, and then it just kind of blew up,” Wooten said. “Probably around the beginning of July of this year is when I kind of started thinking about it seriously. My sister was like, ‘you really should do this.’ So we started brainstorming and stuff, and we said, well, we’ll just do a Facebook page. So we started that in July, and it’s really just blown up.”
Wooten and Whitlock both mentioned how the business essentially started itself.
“People were saying ‘Oh you make really good cookies. You should sell these,’” Whitlock said.
“Friends and family would be like, ‘Oh can you make cookies for so and so’s birthday party’ or ‘Oh could you bring cookies to thanksgiving dinner,’” Wooten said.
The bakery may be most popular for their sugar cookies, but they have a wide variety of sweets for customers to choose from.
“I do iced sugar cookies, and we just kind of threw out chocolate sugar cookies recently,” Wooten said. “We do cupcakes, puppy cupcakes (pupcakes) and doggy treats, as far as baked goods. I also do chocolate covered oreos, chocolate covered Rice Krispy treats and chocolate covered pretzel rods.”
Whitlock favors a particular item in the lineup more than the rest.
“Probably the pretzel rods,” Whitlock said. “Just because I like the sweetness, but I also like that it’s salty. That’s a good combination.”
Wooten may not be the most fond of desserts, but she still finds herself indulging outside of her taste testing.
“I actually will eat a cookie every once in awhile, even though I don’t like sweets,” Wooten said. “But, it’s not very often.”
The cookies she occasionally indulges in are no cakewalk to make though.
“I don’t have a set time of how long it takes making them, because a lot of it is dry time,” Wooten said. “So like, I iced four dozen yesterday and it took me about three hours. But then they have to dry for like six to eight hours before you can decorate them.”
Another consideration is giving the icing the time it needs to set before it can be decorated on.
“It’s like overnight,” Wooten said. “So I’ll stay up at night icing, and then I will wake up in the morning and I’ll start decorating.”
‘Momo’s Mix Up’ has escalated from a friends and family hobby to a full fledged bakery. Wooten does not just provide treats for local birthdays and gatherings, but also large scale reunions and business events. With all the events on her plate, Wooten has to balance her time to get everything done.
“I try to limit myself to 10-12 dozen a week.” Wooten said. “That never happens. It always ends up being more like 15-20 dozen a week.”
While Wooten has creativity to spare, her customers are allowed much freedom in what they want their specific dozen to look like.
“A lot of time they’ll find pictures online or something and say I like this cookie from this one and this cookie from this order,” Wooten said. “Then a lot of times they’re just like we’re having a birthday party, so what you want. And from there I’m like, okay well can you give me a color or something? So I always ask what it’s for, and usually they’ll have told me already what it’s for. I always ask like a color theme or a theme of the party that they’re going to do. I always ask for a name or initials or if they want me to incorporate that somewhere.”
Since ‘Momo’s Mix Up’ primarily has customers coming from their facebook page, many will ask Wooten to recreate an exact dozen she has done already.
“People will message me with a photo we’ve posted of a previous order asking for it,” Wooten said. “I always try to switch it up a bit or customize it in some way to make it personal for that customer.”
Somehow in the midst of extra dozens and endless rows of cookies to decorate, Wooten works a full-time job at a nursing center in Dewey. Whitlock is a full-time student, while also having a part time job and an internship.
“I work at Forrest Manor,” Wooten said. “I am a physical therapy assistant and the director of rehab there. So, I work all day and then I come home and bake all night. This is where I’m at.”
With the busy schedule she has, Wooten could not do it all on her own. Luckily, Whitlock is a helping hand whenever she needs.
“It’s lots of late nights,” Wooten said. “Naudia helps a lot. She’s my gopher or when I’m doing something and I need something else going, then I’m like, ‘Okay Naudia, do this for me while I do this.’”
Whitlock has a busy schedule herself, so her involvement wiggled its way into her life. She got involved by just being immersed in the bakery itself.
“I live here. This is a home bakery!” Whitlock said. “She does stay up late, there are some nights where she’s up until twelve o’clock, one ‘o’clock, or others where she’s staying up until like 4:30 am, and I’m just like okay well, I can’t do much, but I can do as much as I can to help, just because she has another job, and that’s just life.”
Whitlock does more than she leads on to. While she may not be as experienced in baking or decorating as her mother, she holds her own in the kitchen.
“I’m always running errands,” Whitlock said. “I run to Walmart and Hobby Lobby a lot. Those two stores are our best friends. I make the frosting a lot.”
Even though Whitlock may not be skilled in decorating yet, her mom is thankful for what she does contribute in the kitchen.
“So she preps a lot, she’ll make frosting for me, she’s putting cookies in and out of the oven for me while I’m decorating or while I’m rolling dough out,” Wooten said.
Despite the busy lifestyle she leads, Wooten is not ready to give up her main job.
“I would love to do this as my main job, but I think I would miss what I do,” Wooten said. “I mean I’ve been a therapist for almost twenty years now. So, i think I would miss what I do, but later on I can always do PRN.”
PRN is a medical term that stands for the latin phrase “pro re nata,” meaning as needed. In Wooten’s case, she could work part time and be called in for therapy work when her office needs assistance.
“Eventually I could see being called in a couple of hours a week,” Wooten said. “But yeah, I think that I would love to be doing this (baking) all day.”
Every mother-daughter relationship has its stresses naturally; add a booming business on top of that, and it is easy to see why some conflict may arise.
“We do bicker a lot just because it’s a mom and daughter thing,” Whitlock said. “Plus, we’re so much alike. It’s bad that we’re that much alike. But, just as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten closer to my mom. It’s just kind of an extra thing that we get to do together.”
The time spent is both productive and relational, and the work they are doing is attracting new customers constantly. But, the success of the business is relative to their relationship. Both Whitlock and Wooten appreciate the time spent and the effect it has had on their connection.
As far as her daughter’s future goes, her senior year is flying by. With graduation looming ahead, every upperclassman feels the pressure to decide their direction for the years ahead. When asked what Whitlock’s plans were following high school, her mom seemed more apt to answer than herself.
“My mom and I have grown so much closer as she has begun this journey,” Whitlock said. “We both have enjoyed each other’s company. In about eight months, I am leaving for college, and that will be difficult for the both of us.”
“She’s going to go to school for culinary arts and is going to come home and help her momma,” Wooten said.
Whitlock and Wooten laughed along at the notion.
“Maybe I can double major mom,” Whitlock said.
Although Whitlock was just joking around, she does not have a definite idea yet of what her plan is for college. Wooten’s fingers are crossed that her idea of culinary sticks, at least until she can find more family members to fill in.
“I really don’t know what I’ll do without her,” Wooten said. “My mom is retired and I’ll probably have to pull her in to help.”
Despite Whitlock’s physical separation from both her family and the bakery, she is confident that she will still be involved.
“Although I will not be at home every day, I know she can do it without me,” Whitlock said. “Because she taught me how to be confident and steadfast, I hope that she remembers the same for herself.”
‘Momo’s Mix Up’ operates off of their Facebook page and takes orders from there. https://www.facebook.com/MoMosMixUp/