From San Francisco to San Diego, California boasts a wide array of Mediterranean produce. These fruits and vegetables are no strangers to Two Chicks in the Mix, a bakery founded by Malaka Wilson-Greene and Erica Freeman, who get innovative baking inspiration from local ingredients. Whether it’s California-grown rhubarb or berries or lemons, you can count on Two Chicks in the Mix’s delights to be a breath of fresh air.
Grad School to Ganache
Malaka and Erica both wanted to be entrepreneurs. Their brainstorming sessions went from clothes to beauty, but baking was eventually chosen since they both had a passion for it. At the time of establishing Two Chicks in the Mix, Malaka was attending graduate school at San Francisco State University, and when she came back home to Los Angeles for summer break, the journey began!
“We didn’t have restaurant experience or skills in owning a business. It’s been trial and error and learning things on the way,” says Malaka.
When Two Chicks in the Mix kicked off, they faced the challenges of scaling recipes for orders of different sizes, changing recipes, and sticking to a schedule. The main obstacle for the bakery, however, is working between two locations – Los Angeles and Oakland. Malaka runs the bakery in Oakland, while Erica runs the bakery in Los Angeles.
“A lot of things you want to focus on only work if you’re working in the same vicinity. Not being able to help each other, to do certain things together, and to accompany each other was a challenge and still is,” Malaka explains.
And with creative flavors and customer bonds, both locations have become rooted in their SoCal and NorCal communities.
Piece of Cake
“We just really like desserts and try to come up with things people haven’t seen before. We want to do things that are rare or that you wouldn’t find in another bakery,” says Malaka.
Combining that inventive spark with fresh, organic, and local produce, Two Chicks in the Mix has created plenty of customer favorites. In the summer season, their most popular treats are the Strawberry Basil Tart, the Mixed Berry Pie, and the Lavender and Earl Grey Cake. Inspired by local farmers and in-season fruits, some of their specialties include Lemon Olive Oil and Dark Chocolate Strawberry Cakes.
The bakery became rooted in the Oakland and Los Angeles communities after word of mouth spread about its delectable baked goods.
“Sending desserts out and getting a good response is the best part. It’s a lot of work baking 50 cakes, but if you know you’ve made an impact on someone’s day or celebration it’s great. What matters is that the things you send out make them feel better,” Malaka emphasizes.
“Right before the pandemic hit, we were primarily a wedding cake business, so we became really affected. We had to pivot and figure things out,” Malaka explains.
To overcome sudden changes, the bakery started offering free delivery and has minimized staff to just the owners baking in their respective locations. Instead of wedding cakes, small cakes have become very popular, which people can eat with a small family or as a personal treat.
Despite the current situation, Malaka and Erica have goals to keep building and growing their business. “This won’t last forever so we’re just playing it cool now,” says Malaka, “Maybe we’ll set up a storefront in Oakland next year at one point.”
If you’re in Oakland or Los Angeles and need a birthday cake or want something to treat yourself amid the quarantine, you know who to call!