By Will Buss Belleville News-Democrat.
Liz Toefher has a passion for people and their well being. That's why she has made her love of baking and cooking sweet treats her life's work. She currently works out of her Mascoutah home but is looking for a store to call her own. Last week, she invited business writer Will Buss to her kitchen to talk about her enterprise:
Q: What are all of the sweets that you make?
A: "I provide made-from-scratch custom cakes, cupcakes, cookie cakes, homemade sweet breads, brownies, cake pops and even homemade dog treats made of peanuts, beef and chicken. And all of the dog treats are sodium- and sugar-free, so you can treat your pup more often."
Q: Why do you make health-conscious dog treats?
A: "They came out of the need of having my own dog having stomach issues, so he could never have any treats. So I developed some for him."
Q: How long have you been baking and cooking"
A: "I've been cooking and baking for people for over 15 years. I have two business degrees and associate's and bachelor's degrees in business management as well as health care management. And so it was an obvious next step to start my own business. I have a passion for people and for baking. It's kind of in my genes.
I am the niece of Marilyn Siddle, the original owner of The Pie Pantry in downtown Belleville. So I'm related to all of the Siddle family. Marilyn also had the Pie Parlor in the Central West End in St. Louis as well, before that, and then she moved back to Belleville. That changed ownership, probably in the late '70s, early '80s was the last time she actually owned it. It has changed hands since then. And now, I see that it is for lease. I've been looking at properties for lease and for purchase lately."
Q: How long has Lizzie Bob's been in business?
A: "I've been in business for about a year and a half, since April of last year. I officially became an LLC in February of this year. So I am looking to open a storefront pretty soon. I am busting at the seams here at home."
Q: And I assume you're Lizzie?
A: "Yes, and my husband is Bob. When we were dating, my nephew, who was about 3 or 4 at the time, and every time we came to an event, he would say, 'Hey, it's Lizzie Bob!' So he would never call us one or the other. So that has always just stuck, and we were looking for a unique name for the business, and I wanted to make sure people knew that what I make is from scratch. I don't use boxes or preservatives, everything is fresh to order. So that just came about with the name, and it's very unique. I have clients and people who I network with who just call my Lizzie Bob, which is cute."
Q: With your extensive background and education, what led you to become an entrepreneur?
A: "I've always wanted to own my own business. I was just figuring out what I wanted to do. I have a passion for health care and also my mom is diabetic, as well as a lot of my clients who have told me their husband or wife is diabetic. So I'm developing a line of diabetic-friendly sweets using an alternative sugar, and it's not Truvia or Stivia. I do a lot of research, and with my background in health care and all of my college courses, I just became very passionate about what goes in my products and who can have my products. And I do everything to be transparent about what's in it and the ingredients so that no one has an allergic reaction or any kind of problem like that."
Q: What is your most requested item?
A: "I do a lot of pies, obviously. It's kind of in my blood. My favorite thing to make are custom cakes. I get a lot of great, quirky ideas from people, and I just recently made one for a little girl with a brain tumor. She requested Hello Kitty riding a rocket, so I made it happen. I just did 2,500 cookies for the Heimos Greenhouse in Millstadt. They just had their poinsettia event. That kind of happened by happenstance because the baker they had been using for a while couldn't do it anymore, and that working partner said, 'Hey, I've got this contact. Please call her.' And she commissioned me to bake for her, and now we're setting up a contract for me to be her baker from now on."
Q: What do you enjoy most about your business?
A: "To me, it's love. I love to see smiles on my clients' faces and to know that I did that. In some little small way, I made them happy just for that moment. I find it relaxing. It's almost therapeutic because of the touching of the dough, feeling and rolling and cutting. And it's artistic as well. I love creating things. I was a writer back in the day, and I've got a lot of poetry and short stories published. That was the direction I was originally going in. I was going to go into journalism."
Q: You made a smart choice.
A: "I love journalism. But art just became really interesting to me. So I would look at pictures and things that my kids would draw or I would see stuff out and about and I would be thinking, how could I turn that into cake? How could I turn that into a cookie? And now, it's just become a passion."
Liz Toefher Job: Lizzie Bob's Sweets From Scratch LLC (618-334-4917) Outlook: "I love to see smiles on my clients' faces and to know that I did that. In some little small way, I made them happy just for that moment."