Twelve-year-old baker delivers homemade goods to Stillwater and beyond.
In January 2021, Juliana Wallace and her family took a vacation to Bonita Springs, Florida. Her daughter, Fiona, 10-years-old at the time, thought it would be a fun idea to do a bake sale from their Airbnb—so, she whipped up a batch of chocolate chip cookies, muffins and lemonade.
“It was pretty fun,” Fiona, 12, says. “[I donated] 30 percent of profits to the Animal Humane Society … We came back, and I thought, ‘Gosh, I could do this back here.’”
“We were driving back from Florida, and we just started,” Juliana says. “Sometimes, we plant these little seeds of an idea, and then they just grow into something bigger when all of us get our heads together in the family.”
After the 26-hour drive back to Lake Elmo, the family decided to proceed with online sales, due to the pandemic. It was during the drive when the family had the natural space to dream, and they came up with the business name and idea to sell online. “[It’s named] after my two stuffies,” Fiona says, naming her stuffed animals, Pumpkin, a fox, and Pearl, a seal— a band of two stuffies that Fiona calls The Snuggles. “… It’s like alliteration … It just had a nice ring to it as Pumpkin and Pearl Baked Goods, so we decided on that.”
In April 2021, Pumpkin and Pearl officially started. But Fiona’s baking passion started long before she could even reach the counters, as an 18-month-old watching her family in the kitchen. “She was teeny tiny and having to stand on chairs or stools to help us out, and that is both from a baking standpoint—she’s always been very interested in baking—but also from a cooking standpoint. So, you know, she’s very proficient in the kitchen in general,” she says, noting that Fiona would often “drift” into the kitchen to wash her hands, roll up her sleeves and assist in whatever cooking or baking was happening at the moment.
One of Fiona’s sources of inspiration? Watching The Great British Baking Show. “It was 2020, we’re at home, and we’re caring for my mom, Judy Esse, who is declining in health, and she lived with us until she passed away … We had to keep her occupied for long periods of time, so The Great British Baking Show was a show that she could sit and watch, even with her dementia,” Juliana says. “Then we all got sucked into watching that constantly.”
It was the Earthquake Cookies, a chocolate chip cookie with marshmallow buttercream frosting between them, that Fiona first wanted to bake. Then, she looked up more recipes online. “And then, with tweaking it a little bit, she made these amazingly, delicious soft, chewy [cookies]. I mean, they were just so good, and we were like, ‘She has a knack for baking,’” Juliana says. Now, Fiona, who is a tier one qualified cottage food producer, sells chocolate chip cookies, brownies, ginger cookies, lemon cookies, cupcakes and more. “I do other stuff sometimes, like the Earthquake Cookies,” she says. Last holiday season, Fiona gave back 11 percent of profits to Northstar Youth Outreach Center; she’ll continue to donate to different organizations.
Outside the kitchen, Fiona is a seventh-grader who enjoys tennis, soccer and hanging out with her sister, Gemma, and friends. She’s also in the National Junior Honor Society and enjoys volunteering at Feed My Starving Children.
“I really like baking for others because I enjoy seeing how happy people get when I give them something,” Fiona says. “And baking is an outlet to have fun and relax. Baking is like a win-win because it’s fun for me to bake, and it’s fun for me to see other people happy.”
Q&A With Fiona
What is your most popular menu item?
Brownies, but people also really like the ginger cookies.
What is a fun part of the business?
Deliveries are honestly really fun because that’s the part where I get to see people like, “Oh, my gosh, the brownies are here! Thank you so much.” It feels really nice.
What has feedback been like for you?
I’ve had people say the ginger cookies are the best they’ve ever had …
Do you have a long-term goal?
I’m hoping to save enough money, [so] I have enough to visit an elephant sanctuary in Thailand. That’s enough for—round-trip—two people, so I can bring a parent.
What do you want to tell your customers?
It’s a kid-owned startup, [and] it’s a big aspect of who we are as a company. We always make our treats with love.