Bakery Bling moving headquarters to OKC

Published Wednesday, December 18, 2019
by Janice Francis-Smith

The Oklahoma City Economic Development Trust has agreed to provide up to $400,000 in incentives to the company in exchange for the jobs created.

“We looked all over the place – Texas, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Idaho,” Bakery Bling CEO Lauren Brooks said at Tuesday’s Economic Development Trust meeting. “I would say the building and also the incentives played a huge role into us choosing Oklahoma. The incentive offerings were a major part of our decision.”

Bakery Bling manufactures a line of bakery products featuring its trademark Glittery Sugar and Edible Bling. Bakery Bling is a dba of Little Waisted LLC, which had perfected an edible glitter product used as a cocktail rim. Bakery Bling creates sparkling embellishments for baked goods and a line of baked goods featuring their edible glitter.

“When we first started the company, I was amazed at how many edible glitters are truly plastic, and so one thing about our company is everything we do is edible,” said Brooks. “We manufacture all of our own products, so we make all of our own cookies, gingerbread houses, sugars, edible glitters, icings.”

Bakery Bling will be moving into a building at NW 23rd Street and MacArthur Boulevard that was used as a Walmart Neighborhood Market but has sat vacant since 2014. Little Waisted purchased the building for $2.6 million and estimates buildout will cost about $250,000. Another $1.5 million will be invested in machinery, with the oven alone costing more than $1 million.

“We need a much bigger facility than we have right now,” said Brooks. “We’re in about 10,000 square feet but we’re going into 82,000 square feet, so we are growing very rapidly.”

Bakery Bling’s products are available nationwide, with clients including Target, Walmart, Disney, Michaels, HomeGoods, Albertsons and Belk. Disneyland uses the glitter sugar on churros sold at the park made to evoke bars of gold, shiny cars and even lightsabers.

“Our line of cookie kits was launched last year nationwide in Kroger,” said Brooks. “It’s opened a whole new market for us. We’re bringing a lot of innovation to the industry… We do a lot with 3D innovation. We just got put on Target’s Innovation Council with 10 other companies across the country.”

All manufacturing will be moved from the current facility in San Clemente, California, to the Oklahoma City facility. Bakery Bling has already hired its first Oklahoma City employee, a creative director, and recruitment efforts are underway to see that 25 employees will be available to work just as soon as the facility is ready to begin operations.

Jobs offered include executive positions, production staff, engineers “and everything in between,” said Brooks. Average employee pay will start out at about $49,000 a year with full benefits and increase to $52,000 a year.

“With growth continuing at its same pace, we plan to have 300 employees within the first five years,” said Brooks. The Oklahoma City Economic Development Trust will provide the incentives as the company demonstrates the promised jobs have been provided.

Jeff Seymour, executive vice president of economic development for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, said the area of western Oklahoma City where the facility will open has an average median income of $20,000 a year.

“And it has been stagnant and lost population,” said Seymour. “So we see this as an opportunity to bring economic rejuvenation to that neighborhood.”

Brooks said the company will be an active member of the local community. At its current location in California, Bakery Bling donates products to the local food bank weekly, gives generously to local schools, churches and other causes, and seeks ways to support women entrepreneurs.

Relocating to Oklahoma will actually be a return to the state for Brooks and her husband, she said. Brooks used to work in television in Oklahoma about 10 years ago, and here she met her husband who was born and raised in the Sooner State. The couple had moved from Oklahoma to Brooks’ home state of California, but the rapid growth of the business made them consider Oklahoma as a place that could accommodate further growth.

“The business has grown so much,” said Brooks. “Having a manufacturing plant a couple of miles from the beach just isn’t realistic.”

At the Economic Development Trust meeting, member Todd Stone questioned staff about the timing of the proposal, wherein incentives intended to lure companies to the city were being approved for a business that has already purchased a building and secured zoning for manufacturing.

“The timing and sequence of these projects can get a little tricky sometimes,” said OCEDT Surrogate General Manager Cathy O’Connor. “With this company, like many others, we talk with them for months and months. A lot of times they do not want us to even really know who they are, and that’s just the nature of how economic development projects work. And we don’t bring things to you until the company is ready for it to become public information.”

To accommodate the meeting schedules of the different city departments involved, sometimes the process might appear a bit jumbled. In this case, the zoning was approved by the Planning Commission and the City Council shortly before the Trust – which only meets once a month – met to approve the incentives.

“Sometimes things like the zoning get ahead of us and there’s not a lot we can do about that,” said O’Connor.

The Trust’s published agenda for the meeting did not include the item, but was added last minute on the day of the meeting.

Read the story on JournalRecord.com.

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