Aundrea Dumas, CEO of Legends Food LLC.
Aundrea is a native of Savannah, Georgia and was greatly influenced by the culinary designs of her grandmother, Isabelle “Mabelle” DeLancey Cuyler-Alston, and her mother, Shirley Ann Morris. She is also the inspiration behind Mabelle’s Low-Country Brand. In addition to her business interests, Aundrea has served her community in many capacities; Peer-Proof Counselor, DeKalb County School System; DeKalb County Superintendent Advisory Committee, KeKalb County School Board; and Business Plan Advisor, Georgia Pacific (YEA), Youth Entrepreneurs of Atlanta.
Aundrea is a 2007 graduate of FastTrac Growth Venture Program at Georgia State University’s J Mark Robinson College of Business. She is Certified by the Women Business Enterprise National Council. Aundrea has been featured on numerous media outlets including; Chef and The Fatman Food Talk Radio Show, 1150 AM; Michael & Joi Radio Morning Show; WEAS 93.1 FM, Savannah Gospel and Afternoon Drive Radio Show; WSAV-Channel 3 NBC, The Bridge, Savannah Morning Show; WTOC-Channel 11 CBS, Bounce, Savannah Afternoon Show; WAGA-Channel 5 Fox, Good Day Atlanta Morning Show; the Savannah Now Newspaper; the Atlanta Journal Constitution; the Savannah Tribune; the Atlanta Daily World; and Gospel Today Magazine.
Aundrea’s company was recognized by the Atlanta Tribune Magazine as one of Atlanta’s Top 25 Black Owned Companies. Additionally, Aundrea received a VIP Board nomination by United Way; Recognition as one of the 25 Most Influential Women In The World by Rolling Out Magazine; Nominated as 1st winner up for Supplier of the Year by Georgia Minority Supplier Diversity Council; Featured Artist at the Savannah Black Heritage Festival; and Nominated by Coca-Cola for Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Among Aundrea’s other recognitions are the Governor’s Citation Award; GE Capital Spotlight of Excellence Award; and Yesterday Story Today’s Legacy Award.
Aundrea is also the author of three books, The House That Cooks Love, The Hourse That Cooks Love Too and Recipe 2 Retail. Aundrea was also featured as a celebrity rotating judge on TV One’s reality cooking show, My Momma Throws Down.
What You’ll Learn On This Episode
- Being a Woman Pioneer
- Taking a product from concept to shelf
- The importance of working on your business and not in it
- How being certified has played such a pivotal role in my business
- Inspiring others
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia, it’s time for GWBC Radio’s Open for Business. Now, here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:18] Lee Kantor here. Another episode of GWBC Open for Business. And this is going to be a good one. Today on the show we have Aundrea Dumas with Legends Food. Welcome.
Aundrea Dumas: [00:00:31] Thank you. Thank you for welcoming me. How are you today?
Lee Kantor: [00:00:34] I am doing well. I am so excited to learn what you’re up to. Tell us about Legends Food. How are you, Southern folks?
Aundrea Dumas: [00:00:41] Oh, look, you know how we Southern folks do it down here in the South, the Deep South. But everything’s well. Legends Food is a food manufacturing and manufacturer, and the product that we actually manufacture is a product that’s first in category called Eazy Peazy Cakes.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:01] Eazy Peazy Cakes. What is an Eazy Peazy Cake?
Aundrea Dumas: [00:01:05] So, Eazy Peazy Cake, let me tell you how it all started. Eazy Peazy Cake started as a promise I made to my mom that if I survived her, I would keep her memory alive. And when she passed from a very rare blood cancer, I decided to keep her memory alive by starting an online bakery back in 2012 called Shirley Cakes. It grew from there and went from online to brick and mortar and started there with monies that I thought I had enough of till so many of the zonings and all of those different companies came in to tell me what I needed, what I thought I’d had enough of. And I exhausted the funds. And then exhausting the funds, I end up running my bakery from the front to the back, and I did from cupcakes to cakes by myself.
Aundrea Dumas: [00:01:56] And so, what I can recall my mom saying, you’re working hard, not smart because it was very stressful. And so, what I did was put all of my batters, at the time it was 12 flavors, in containers and bottles. And when people would order cakes or we would run out of cakes or cupcakes, all I did was shake, pour and bake, and this product just became so big. My customers love it. Kroger found out about it. And so, Eazy Peazy Cakes is a cupcake slash cake batter in a bottle, first of its kind and first in category.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:31] So now, were you the first baker in your family, or is this something that you learned from your mom and she learned from her, like, was it passed down or was this like you as figuring all this out?
Aundrea Dumas: [00:02:42] No, I didn’t figure it out. It started from my grandmother to my mom. And so, that’s what I did. I took my mom’s recipes and used them to start the online bakery. And so, again, what you have, Eazy Peazy Cakes is a product of the promise I made to my mom by using her recipe. So, I started baking when I was about eight years old in Savannah, Georgia, because that’s my hometown. And so, I learned a lot of all that baking and the tricks of the trades for my mother and my grandmother. And this is what we have here, Eazy Peazy Cakes.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:17] Now, I think baking and cooking is such a wonderful way to pass down memories and kind of the DNA of the family from the stories and the bonding that happens in the kitchen between a child and the parent and grandparent. Is that how you feel as well?
Aundrea Dumas: [00:03:36] Oh, sure, certainly, because I’ve written three books and one of my first books I wrote was a cookbook. And the cookbook was telling stories along with my childhood stories that I remembered and related it to the recipes when we were in the kitchen, either cooking or baking in Savannah, and how I used to go crabbing with my grandmother and the baking I used to do and how I learned how to cook, how I learned all these things. So it all started in the kitchen. You know, conversations, that’s where they happen, in the kitchen. Everything, things got hashed out in the kitchen. Everything happened in the kitchen. It wasn’t just about eating.
Aundrea Dumas: [00:04:13] People’s problems happened and were resolved in the kitchen. So, it’s about food. You know, to say food is a part of our, like you said, our DNA. And it comforts us. That’s what food does. And just not the food, but the preparation of the food and the baking, that all comes with that comfort that we get from it. And that’s how we do things here again in the South.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:39] And that’s how you put your own spin on it, where you take a recipe, maybe that a parent or grandparent shared, and then at some point, you put your kind of secret sauce and you add your personality to it, and then it evolves over time.
Aundrea Dumas: [00:04:54] Oh, yes. And that’s how it gets passed down. You know, that’s how we do it. The grandmother or the mother may have taught it one way and you may have added – just as my grandmother said, if you add anything different or replace it with anything, it now becomes your recipe. And so, that’s what I have done. I’ve tested it, “Okay, let me try this with it.” “Oh.” and it becomes a whole nother different recipe. But, of course, the foundation of it is my mother and my grandmother. So you’re right.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:26] Right. And that’s kind of foundationally they create kind of that true flavor profile and you’re adding your kind of special thing that makes you unique to the process that makes it yours, but it has that kind of foundation of the past.
Aundrea Dumas: [00:05:43] Right. And that’s why it’s called Legends Food because I feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of my mom and my grandmother because they are the foundation.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:52] Yeah, that’s very inspirational, I mean. And it’s such a great lesson for people out there. And even if your family cooks together or shares recipes together, you don’t have to turn it into a business. But it’s such a great opportunity to learn more about each other and the family and the history.
Aundrea Dumas: [00:06:12] And this is true. And I just feel like because it’s a part of my DNA again, it was already there for me to take it and go other places with it. I never would have thought that I would have made a career in baking and cooking. But, again, it’s a part of my DNA and it’s what I do and it’s what I do well. And it’s a passion of mine. It’s what I love doing. It’s not work for me because of what I love to do. And I love to see people smile. I love to see people happy. I love to hear, you know, the compliments that I get from, you know, when someone tastes my baking or my cooking and how it makes them feel inside. So, yeah. So I look at that. This is a gift that was left behind for me by my mother and my grandmother.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:59] Right. And you’re creating memories for the people who are buying your stuff. Those are usually going to family events as well. And then, that is part of their experience.
Aundrea Dumas: [00:07:10] Creating memories and time, you know, because in these days in time, everybody is starved for time, time consumed. So one of the things about this product is because there is no prepping, you know, there is no – you don’t have to go to the store and buy any extra ingredients. There are no eggs. It’s actually a prepared batter already in the bottle along with the frosting. So you get some company that comes over. You want some desserts with your dinner, or you just want to have fun with your family because it’s family-friendly fun. You just simply shake, pour and bake it and you have all these different varieties of desserts that it makes from cakes to cake pops to cupcakes. It’s just a very good product that, hey, I would have never thought that working-hard-not-smart would have brought on this type of product. But it did. But again, the foundation of it is my mother and my grandmother.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:09] Now, when did you – when you had that pivot of, “Hey, you know what? Instead of baking all the actual stuff, I’m going to just sell the batter.” When did you start getting clues that, “Hey, I might be on to something here? This is something that might work.”
Aundrea Dumas: [00:08:25] Look, I actually did – I tell people I’m like, this is a God-given product because I just didn’t feel like, I’m like I’m not that smart to come up with something so simple because so many people are like, “Why don’t I think about that?” And it was just in the moment that I was in the bakery where it was just so, you know, I was just so overwhelmed. The bakery was doing well, but I was just so overwhelmed with what was going on that I know I had to come up with something that would be, that would take me to another level, take me, take this product where I can still continue to do what I’m doing.
Aundrea Dumas: [00:08:59] And so, it was again, I heard my mom’s voice saying, “You’re working hard, not smart.” And I’m like, “What do I do?” And it was like my mom was the one that would do things ahead of time, and it was, get the batters and put them in bottles and containers, have them made up already ahead of time, prepare two, when you ran out you just shake, pour and bake. And so, when I did that, it was like, “Oh, my.” It was a light. It was a light bulb. Like, “Gosh, I cannot believe that this is so easy and it’s working.”
Aundrea Dumas: [00:09:29] And so, one of the things was my customers will always ask me to teach them how to either decorate or to bake. And I had a couple of them say, I want my house to smell like your bakery. So when that idea came, I gave some of the product to them. “Take this home. Try it. Let me know how does it bake up? Does it still taste like you came from the bakery? Does your home smell like my bakery?” And so, it was about ten of them that I chose. And they came – they did parties. They just bragged about it and it was like a light bulb. This could be a product that, you know, I know it wasn’t anything like. I didn’t know – I didn’t know if anything was like that out there. But I’m like, could this be a product that I can sell in the bakery? But then Kroger found out about it, and when they found out about it, this is when they told me there’s nothing like it on the market. This is innovative. This is baking revolutionized. They gave me all of these different terms and they thought it was just a great idea and it just took off from there.
Aundrea Dumas: [00:10:27] And, you know, I’ve done QVC. We’re at Macy’s. I just got a contract with Walmart. I just have so many things going on with this product that it has just escalated, I just didn’t see. I never would have seen this as a future for this product and this product even having a future. But it has just escalated to the highest and it’s still climbing, climbing up and up and up the ladders and, you know, making more interaction with different people and buyers that are loving the product.
Aundrea Dumas: [00:11:03] And as the buyers, what they’re telling me, this is a disruptor. They call the product a disruptor. And I’m like, “Okay. But this is what this product is about.” And so, we came out with the frosting because we would have a lot of customers like, “Where is the frosting?” And what we did in the beginning is we put the frosting recipe on the bottle. And so, we had a customer, a couple of customers – well, this one, in particular, she said, “Well if I can get the ease of the batter, I want the ease of the frosting. I don’t want to have to make the frosting [inaudible].”
Lee Kantor: [00:11:40] Why not?
Aundrea Dumas: [00:11:42] Yeah. And so, Kroger was like, “You’re gonna have to do the frosting, frosting.” And then, they didn’t want to go and buy anybody else’s frosting. That was the other thing.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:49] Right because they wanted to keep it the same.
Aundrea Dumas: [00:11:52] And when we’re doing demos – you know, we did the little demos with the little mini, so we had our frosting on and it was like, “Where’s the frosting? Where’s the frosting?” And it’s like, “You know, you can go down that aisle and get that for” – “No, I don’t want that frosting. I want your frosting.”
Lee Kantor: [00:12:04] That’s right.
Aundrea Dumas: [00:12:06] So, we tried many things, but now we have the frosting. Yes.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:10] Now, it’s just a great – it’s amazing the story when you think back, right? Like, you had that all along, but you never thought to sell it and then all of a sudden you sell it and now it changes your whole life.
Aundrea Dumas: [00:12:24] It has. It has really changed my whole life. I’m trying to keep up. I would have never – again, I would have never thought, you know, as so many people who’ve actually come across a product, it was like, “Gosh, you know, I never thought of this.” Even Kroger was like, “Nobody ever thought of this.” And again, I guess because it wasn’t in the time that I was going through, I wasn’t thinking of it. I wasn’t trying to think of a batter in a bottle. I was just trying to think of how can I make my life less stressful and not lose my bakery because, you know, we’ve invested too much money in it to get it started, to build it out. Now, what can I do to keep this thing going? It’s like you say pivoting and, you know, finding something to do to make sure that I don’t have a loss there. And this is what happened. It was like put it in the bottle, to put it into containers. And when I say that, you know, it’s in the cute little bottles and containers now. But back then in the bakery, it was like, you know, whatever, I can go buy and put them in just to shake, pour and bake it. And then, come to find out not only that, Lee, it has the shelf life for it. Refrigeration is 90 days in the freezer. You can freeze it as well for six months. So that’s the other thing that the buyers love about it and the customers. They like that I don’t have to bake up a whole bottle. They feel like they’re cheating. I could bake one little mini. I could bake one little cupcake and I don’t feel like I’m cheating. And so, that’s the other thing. That’s a great part about it.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:48] Now, when you’re working with these large companies like Kroger, do they help you at all? Do they say, “You know what? I need it to be in a bottle this size or I need a label that looks like this”? Or are they giving you any guidance when it comes to the packaging and what it’s going to look like on the shelf? Or are they expecting you to already know all this stuff?
Aundrea Dumas: [00:14:09] You know, I’ve been in this industry since 2005, in the food and beverage industry, because this is not my first product. This is the first bakery product, and I had to learn a lot on my own back then. And, you know, they’re not – when you come to them, they expect for you to know it. They expect you to know what you’re doing. You know, you approach them so obviously, you must know what you’re doing. So, you must know the appetite of the buyer. You must know what they’re looking for, how – you know, how is your product going to stand out because you’re with the competition if you know when you’re bringing a product there. They’re providing the foot traffic, but you have to get the customer to buy that product.
Aundrea Dumas: [00:14:45] So, they’re expecting you to bring brand awareness to the product. They’ll help you just, you know, just a little bit, you know, give you just a little bit of advice. But that’s all on you. And so, just me teaching myself learning, researching about the food and beverage industry, you know, about the competitor. You know what – who is my audience and, you know, what is my product? Does it solve a problem? You know, does it already exist? All of these things that I had to learn, of course. Of course, these are my teachable moments now and my camouflaged obstacles. I like to now call stepping stones, not just for me, but for others. But these are things that they want you to already know when you approach them. And I call it the bias, the appetites of the buyers, what they’re looking for, their presentation, all of these things they expect, and, you know, for your product to be a, you know, a sell-through, not, you know, get there and that doesn’t sell out at all.
Aundrea Dumas: [00:15:42] And so, these are things that you must know when you approach these big stores, these buyers. And again, they’re looking for disruption because they’re looking for something that’s going to affect their category’s profit margins. So, they are not just going to bring anything in there and they want it to look good. They want it to taste good. So it’s all of the senses that must be involved in them buying a purchase in this product.
Aundrea Dumas: [00:16:06] What makes the customer buy your product over your competitor, what’s already on the shelf? So, these are things that you have to be ready to tell them, to be ready to – that you must know and have researched. So, you just can’t come in. There are all kinds of ways. So, to answer your question, no, they’re not going to help you like that at all. You must know this information.
Lee Kantor: [00:16:28] Now, how did being a member of GWBC and being certified help you kind of get to this new level, or did it?
Aundrea Dumas: [00:16:37] Oh, my gosh, es. Being certified woman-owned, it’s just a pivotal moment for me in my life because, with the Walmart contract, that was because of GW, the woman-owned certification. Because of Macy’s, that was because of Greater Women. I got an award through UPS and it was a grant. That was because of GW. So it was a lot of things. And what people also – I want others to understand is certification is important. It’s important to me because I had to learn a lot because in the beginning I didn’t know about certification. But it’s very important because it does a lot for so many women-owned businesses and it gets you to, I said, it gets you into doors that others can’t get into. So, it’s like we have a secret door, another door that we can get into. And so, it’s important to have that certification because I say, look, what it has done for me. It has really pivoted or taken my product, my company, my brand to the next level by having that certification.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:56] Right. And then, the success you’re having, it just creates more and more success because now they feel a lot more confident that it’s going to work in their area because it’s worked before. And then, now you have these doors opened that –
Aundrea Dumas: [00:18:08] Yes.
Lee Kantor: [00:18:08] So it just kind of really can mushroom pretty quickly, I would imagine.
Aundrea Dumas: [00:18:11] Yes. And, you know, it has become almost a mantra of mine to tell people, because I’m just so in shock to know how many people that don’t know about certification. And it’s like I’m always directing somebody over to GW like you all need to know about, you know, if you’re in a Georgia area because not everybody that I talk with in the Georgia area. So you must know what area you’re in and, you know, which one you would fall under, or just go to WBENC to see in your area which area you would fall under.
Aundrea Dumas: [00:18:45] So, I try to – this is like almost an everyday thing of mine to – because I have people approaching me a lot about getting products to market. And one thing like, are you certified? What is certification? I don’t even know what that is and it’s like, “Oh my goodness, you’re missing out, you know, what they can do for you and what they can do for your brand and how they can take you to the next level, just catapult you to the next level.” And so, it’s like that’s what it has become for me that I must tell people. I must – it’s like I’m preaching and teaching at the same time. Learn, go learn, go become certified, and learn more about and see how these certifications will take you to the next [inaudible] – how being a woman certified will take you to the next level.
Lee Kantor: [00:19:29] Right. And, it’s one thing where you can meet those enterprise-level companies that can, that are looking for companies like yours so they can, you know, do business with certified women-owned businesses. But it’s also a community of like-minded people that are all in it struggling together and can help each other. You’ll find other people that are doing work in the community and say, “Hey, you know what? I went through a similar problem or this is how I solved it.” It’s very collaborative. It’s a bunch of people that are really trying to help each other be the best them they can be.
Aundrea Dumas: [00:20:09] It’s a community.
Lee Kantor: [00:20:10] Yeah.
Aundrea Dumas: [00:20:11] That’s what it is. It’s a community. And you need that. You need that community. You need that where you’re held accountable, where when you’re looking to, you know, how do I do this, how do I do that. That’s what they’re there for. So to me, that’s what it has become for me, a community of, like you said, like-minded folks that can help and take you and take your company to the next level. But it’s just – it’s important to me, certification and being a member of the WBENC, the Greater Women’s Business, and it’s very important to me because I know again how and where it has taken my company.
Aundrea Dumas: [00:20:55] And then, the thing about it is with these companies that come to you about it, they reach out to you because they know that you’re certified. It’s like they’re looking for us. And that’s the other thing I tell them. They’re looking for you. They’re looking for you. And it’s like they don’t understand, you know. So they’re looking for women-owned businesses that are certified. They’re looking for those. And it’s just too many of us out there that don’t know about this. And it’s like, how else can we get the word out?
Lee Kantor: [00:21:22] Yeah, believe me, that’s what I’m trying to do with this show, is to tell people, to give them examples of successful women-owned businesses that are certified, that are benefiting from GWBC, and to let other people know that you should really consider. If you’re going to go to the trouble of opening your own business, go to the trouble of being a certified women-owned business and take advantage of that because it’s hard, you know, and why not have some help and become part of a great network that can really help you grow?
Aundrea Dumas: [00:21:53] Thank you. And that’s the thing, the networking, because it is hard already being a small business owner. And then, on top of it, it’s harder, even harder being a woman-owned small business owner. So, it’s like if you have that the help out there, if you have the resources, and GWBC is one of those resources, why not take advantage of it, you know? And I’m so glad that you say that, what this show is about, about letting people know that these resources are out there. And, look, hey, you know, go and learn from it. You know, see how it would benefit you and would take your company to the next level.
Aundrea Dumas: [00:22:30] I am a living witness, you know, that this is what has happened with my company because of GWBC. You know, whatever they would need for me to tell me, you know, for me to tell them, you know, to prove it, again, I’m a living witness that this is what has happened for me, you know. Walmart is big, you know. Walmart is big. And I’ve never, out of all the stores I’ve been in, I’ve never approached Walmart. I even thought, “Hmm, I just never did.” But when GWBC sent me over the information and I saw it, I was like, “Okay, yes, all right.” And so, I kind of let it slide to the side. And then, they sent another email that, you know, don’t forget about the Walmart. And I was like, “Okay. I’m just going to, you know, try it.” And I did. And I cannot believe it was over 14,000 businesses. And out of 14,000, I think they chose like 1100. And my business was one of them and the products. And then, I got a deal with them. Not only did they invite me to the corporate headquarters, I got a deal. In fact, I have my third call with my buyer tomorrow.
Aundrea Dumas: [00:23:49] And I like it because they look for partnerships, they’re looking for ways to create jobs and the things that they do and they’re about so I’m learning a whole lot besides what I thought I know. I’m learning so much more about Walmart because of GWBC as well. You know, it makes me, you know, want to know more about the companies. Of course, I’m learning. I research them before I get involved with them. That’s the other thing too, know who you’re getting involved with. You know, know you’re getting in bed with before you get in bed with them because everybody is, you know, you can’t be all things to everybody and everybody can’t be all things to you. And you don’t want that way because if you’re going to say – if you say, everybody is my customer but nobody’s your customer, so you need to know who that is. But again, I thank GWBC for all of this. Like I said, even Macy’s, you know, being with Macy’s. It’s just been a great ride and everything is happening at all at, you know, in the same year. It’s all been happening, like happening, happening, happening.
Lee Kantor: [00:24:49] Well, what do you need more of? How can we help you?
Aundrea Dumas: [00:24:53] I just want to be able to help those who don’t know that an organization like GWBC exists or – like I said, I just want to be able to be the mouthpiece to help people, to understand how to get certified, what certification is about, how it would benefit, you know, your company because it’s benefit – here’s the thing. It’s just not for me. You know, it’s not just for me. It’s for everybody who wants a piece of the pie. So, it’s enough for everybody to go around. And it’s just to be able to tell my story and for others to hear my story and say, “Okay, you know what? I want to learn how she learned. I want to be able to get the benefits, get into the stores, know more about these things because it was done for her. If God did it for her, he can do it for me.” That’s what I look at. And so, that’s what I want to be able to do, to be able to just continue to spread the word about how great of an organization this company, this organization is, GWBC is.
Lee Kantor: [00:25:55] Now, if somebody wants to connect with you, what is the website? What are the social media coordinates to get a hold of you or learn more about your products?
Aundrea Dumas: [00:26:06] So, I have two. So, they can go to Aundrea, www.aundreadumas.com, and that’s A-U-N-D-R-E-A, dumas.com. Or the product is www.eazy, E-A-Z-Y, peazy, P-E-A-Z-Y, cakes.com, and we’re doing some recipe giveaways there and some other things we’re doing for the holidays. So those are the places. And then, on social media is – the handle is Shake. Pour. Bake; Shake. Pour. Bake. They can get in contact with me there.
Lee Kantor: [00:26:40] Well, Aundrea, thank you so much for sharing your story today, doing such important work and we appreciate you.
Aundrea Dumas: [00:26:46] Thank you so much, Lee, for having me. I appreciate you and thank you GWBC for having me as well.
Lee Kantor: [00:26:52] All right. This is Lee Kantor. We’ll see you all next time on GWBC Open for Business.