The Frederick News-Post invites new business owners in Frederick County to share some details about their venture. Open for Business is a chance to find out more about what’s new in your neighborhood.
Lesley Riley, owner of Mama Biscuit’s, talked recently with the News-Post about her business. The company offers more than 50 flavors, available at www.mamabiscuit.com.
Tell me a little bit about your business and how you got started.
We started about 2014, in October. But we started a little bit online, we opened up a website and started a Facebook page. And we put my name up there, Mama Biscuit, and we started getting followers. And then I actually had an audition with “Master Chef” in New York. So I made it through a couple of rounds for the audition, not the actual show, but just the audition. And I got cut. But at that same time, I did everything for social media and they kind of followed the whole story and they kept the momentum going.
How did that work?
When I got back, I decided that I wanted to keep the momentum going. I dibbed and dabbed a bit in gourmet butters, that’s what I started with. And then I ended up doing gourmet biscuits and started showcasing them online. So in 2014, I started October 8, and by October 15, I had them in someone’s hand, in a local store. So that’s how fast it happened, I mean it happened super quick. So then I started creating different flavors, and I started to send them out. I asked a couple of the Facebook followers, loyal followers, I didn’t know them, and I said if I send you some, would you give me your honest opinion. And they said sure. And it just so happened they were spread out all around the U.S. So I was trying to figure out the shipping. That was the nice part about it ... in my mind, I knew I was going to have an online store if it worked. And so, I basically sent them to Washington state, Chicago, and North Carolina. And so they ate them, they put them up on the Facebook page, they gave their honest opinion, and I knew I had something.
Explain gourmet biscuits.
They basically are a flavored biscuit. We are the nation’s first gourmet biscuit company. We created these gourmet biscuit flavors, we coined the term. And so we basically defined what a gourmet biscuit is. We base it off of our premium ingredients and our unique flavor profiles. And those profiles don’t exist on the market because we created them. So whatever flavor profile you get, you’ll never taste it anywhere else.
What are some of the flavors?
Some of the unique flavors are Kahlua stuffed brie, with a brown sugar pecan topping, spiced mango with a tequila lime glaze. The bananas foster with a homemade salted caramel pecan praline is my number one flavor. The chicken stuffed pot pie is my number one savory. And people always ask, how does she do it? We were able to take some of the best things of chicken, pot pie, and biscuit, and we married them together. And we came up with the chicken pot pie biscuit.
Is this something you made growing up, or ate growing up?
There was no rhyme or reason. I’m a former restauranteur, I used to own a restaurant in North Caroline, I used to own a very high-end restaurant in North Carolina, a high-end soul food restaurant. And we had sweet potato biscuits there. So I knew how to make biscuits, so it wasn’t an issue. There was just no rhyme or reason. The biscuits followed the name.
What’s the business model?
We do online sales. Everything is online. Even if you order here in Frederick, you’ll get them the next day. We’ll have to ship them to you. We are strictly a production facility. We’re not retail. We ship all over the U.S. That’s been the most amazing thing. It took hours, days of research, ordering other products, seeing how they did it.
What was the “Master Chef” process like?
It was very intense. Very competitive, very intense. I’m glad I got cut. It wasn’t for me. That reality TV, that’s a whole different beast.
This interview was edited for clarity and space.
New business owners interested in being featured in Open for Business should contact Ryan Marshall at firstname.lastname@example.org.