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Dreams really do come true — the acclaimed vegan baker behind Pie, Pie My Darling is finally setting up a permanent storefront for her popular baked goods. Heather Bodine-Lederman, the self-taught, cruelty-free baker, has officially signed the lease for her West Town shop and is hoping to open doors this fall.
Best known for her three-layer cakes, Heather has been making waves in the Chicago baking scene by offering up slices at local cafes, restaurants, and pop-ups for the past five years. With 100% vegan options like her Funfetti and Cookie Monster cakes, cosmic brownies, salted chocolate chip cookies, and cake jars (made with leftover cake crumbs and frosting), there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
And enjoy it is exactly what they do. Her cakes have grown so popular among the Chitown crowd that, in one recent instance, she had 100 cake orders flood in her website in less than two minutes. What might be even more incredible than the plant-based cake itself is that up until now, she’s done it all by herself.
Heather began professionally baking only four years ago after years of baking at home, a hobby only invigorated by her decision to become vegan. “I realized I would have to give up all of my favorite desserts if I didn't start making them myself,” Heather told Fitt.
With no shops available to buy cruelty-free goodies, she took it upon herself to serve other vegans facing the same dilemma. So, with no prior technical training, business experience under her belt, or staff to help her along the way, she began Pie, Pie My Darling.
Though, Pie, Pie My Darling serves a bigger purpose than entrepreneurship in Heather’s life. After struggling with multiple eating disorders in her youth, she turned to baking to build a positive relationship with food and eating. “Taking the time and effort to make something beautiful from scratch makes me feel more connected with the whole process of consuming it,” said Heather.
And as she begins a new chapter for the business in 2019, much remains the same for the passionate, independent baker. The funding for her new shop is mostly self-funded or community-sourced — she launched a GoFundMe campaign to help cover startup costs, including licensing, remodeling, and purchasing kitchen equipment. Now, harnessing self-esteem gained through her craft and some new mixers through crowdfunding, she gets to share that nourishing act with others on an even larger scale.
The 1,600-square-foot-space will be mainly grab-and-go with a small seating area for customers to enjoy a coffee and pastry. The shop will offer multiple different flavors of cake by the slice, in addition to cupcakes, brownies, pies, cookies, and more. There’s even a possibility for cake shakes to pop up on the menu.
The vibe of this shop will be a far cry from the typical pink frill you might imagine when you think of a bakery. Pie, Pie My Darling’s slogan is “sweet treats for the misfit soul” and is inspired by a song by The Misfits called “Die, Die My Darling”, which is exactly what the interior will embody.
“When I think about [the décor], I envision lots of black mixed with pastels and gold… there's a mix of femininity and cuteness with an inherent darkness behind it,” said Heather.
Since the lease doesn’t start until September, the space won’t be available for remodeling until the first of the month. So, naturally, the shop won’t be able to open for a little while. Though, if you can’t wait until then to try these animal product-free goods, you can find her cakes by the slice at Paulie Gee’s in Logan Square (limited two slices per guest) and at Handlebar in Wicker Park (one slice per guest).
You can also order online or stop by her West Town kitchen space for cake jars. And yes, you should go early to guarantee you get the ideal jar, or any jar at all for that matter. The phrase “selling like hotcakes” couldn’t be any more fitting for this misfit bakery.