We had the good fortune of connecting with Mariah Williams and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Mariah, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
What’s funny about it is that we never really had the idea to start a business at all! Our mom is a teacher and we are students, as well as doing martial arts and cheer. We were happy with that life. We made cookies and shared them with the community just to give people a reason to smile and to try to get allergy-friendly treats to more kids who cannot afford them. People actually came to us asking to pay. At first, we would not accept payment. But as the cookies got more popular, we started to accept money because the cost to our mom was getting out of control. Once we started accepting money, Mom thought that we should go ahead and make it legal. So, we just kinda jumped in head-first, no plan. Our thought process has always been to increase the access to and affordability of allergy-friendly sweets. We just focus on that goal and, even though it is often overwhelming learning about business as we go, the support we’ve gotten from the team of people around us has made it manageable and so worth it!

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
At 9 years old, Maddy Bear was diagnosed with a milk allergy. At school functions, birthday parties, and friends’ houses, she had to sit out and watch the other kids enjoy sweet treats. Her struggles inspired her to use her baking knowledge (she’s been in the kitchen since she was 2) to start creating dairy-free baked goods. Over time, she learned that cookies are her favorite thing to make. She also started to develop recipes for other allergies/preferences. At 10 years old, she was identified as neurodiverse. Baking is how she communicates her love for others.

​During the pandemic, Maddy Bear baked so many cookies that her and mom started giving away her cookies on a local free site. Maddy Bear called it her “Cookie Sleigh.” The cookies were so well-received that neighbors asked to pay for more! That is how Maddy Bear Bakes was born. Maddy Bear’s sister, me, joined her as her business grew to do all things logistical, communication, and design. Now, we are working together, after school and on weekends, to grow the business that we love.

Maddy Bear currently bakes cookies and makes edible dough jars that are dairy-free, gluten-free and/or fully vegan. After just 4 months in business, Maddy Bear has already been nominated and a finalist for a 2021 Black Plate Award during Black Restaurant Week L.A. As a company, Maddy Bear Bakes remains committed to inclusivity for all kids, with a focus on keeping high-quality, allergy-friendly treats affordable.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Breakfasts at Jinky’s Cafe in West Hills. They have amazing breakfast foods and a fun environment!

We’d probably go thrifting to find unique clothes we can modify into modern looks. I like the Salvation Army store on Sherman Way.
The beach at Santa Monica Pier.
Griffith Observatory.
Universal Studios.
We’d use the Fever App to find super cool local events.

Lunch/dinner from Ooh La La Vegan, West Hills Pizza (they have the absolute best gluten-free crust and vegan cheese pizza), Lily’s Burritos in Malibu, The Vegan Join in Woodland Hills.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
So many!

1. Our community! Our friends and neighbors have always encouraged Maddy’s baking and were the first to suggest that we make it profitable.

2. Our church! Freedom Church allows us to serve the community through giving away cookies at their pop-up pantry. We’ve obviously gotten some business from this, but it has also kept us grounded in our mission which is reaching those people who cannot necessarily afford a trip to a fancy store for vegan or gluten-free cookies.

3. Our mentors with the JLH Social Impact Fund! Like I said, we are learning as we go. JLH has gifted us money to lease our kitchen space and surrounded us with Aunties to guide us through this crazy process.

Website: www.maddybear.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maddybearbakes/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaddyBearBakes

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