By Emily Glory Peters
Many a mighty business has been born of adversity—but those formed in the COVID-19 era are a special breed. And while the inventive idea for Madre Made Bake Co. existed before 2020, the pandemic accelerated plans for its founders.
The concept for the online-only, delivered-to-your-doorstep bakery belongs to Alexis Griffin and Mary McGinn: two friends, mothers, and entrepreneurs brought together by their shared love of baking and for their adopted hometown. Arriving in Sierra Madre within a month of each other, the pair met at the library and became fast friends. That chemistry ultimately lent itself to a potential business partnership, with both Griffin and Alexis brainstorming different ways they might work together. Soon, an unexpected opportunity arose.
“When the pandemic hit, everything shut down, including our kids’ preschool. We saw the abundance of fruits and veggies in the school garden that weren’t being eaten, and we had the idea to use some of the produce for a pop-up bakery fundraiser for the school,” McGinn says. The fundraiser was a hit, and served as a way to “feel out operations” for a new business rooted in local resources.
“My neighbor Mike Wood, founder of Huarache Farms and urban farmer, introduced me to the idea of Community Sustained Agriculture (CSA). People can connect to their food in a way that’s more intimate and enjoy items that are grown nearby,” McGinn explains. The duo started preparing bread for Wood’s CSA boxes, ultimately fleshing out the groundwork for what would become Madre Made Bake Co.
Fast-forward a few months and the two have transformed a pop-up preschool fundraiser into a full-fledged online bakery. Designed to offer maximum convenience, minimize food waste, and of course provide incredible homemade treats, all Madre Made Bake Co. items are available through pre-order, with new menus debuting regularly.
“Mary focuses on a lot of bread and pastry and pie, I lean toward cakes cupcakes, muffins, cookies, and mini loaves. We change our menu every week and rely heavily on customer feedback to shape what we offer,” says Griffin. Items are delivered straight to customers’ doors, with service available throughout Pasadena, Monrovia, Arcadia, and of course Sierra Madre. “We can even designate them as a gift and leave items with a note,” she adds.
Both Griffin and McGinn bring unique perspectives to their recipes. Griffin has been baking since childhood, while McGinn previously owned and operated a cafe—something she opened as the antithesis to her previous work in microbiology—and had just begun a baking class as the New School of Cooking in Pasadena before the pandemic hit. For now, both bakers say they prefer to stay online-only rather than pursue a storefront, but are excited to collaborate with other business owners.
“We recently started partnering with Java Madre Roasting Co., selling their whole bean coffee together with our baked goods,” says Griffin. “We feel that, since the pandemic has limited our growth, we want to bring in other local artisans and vendors so we can mutually lift each other up.”
With no definite end to the pandemic in sight, both founders also feel that the significance of their work has grown. Supporting small businesses while brightening someone’s day with a homemade treat? It’s a winning combination—and the hands behind Madre Made are grateful for the opportunity to serve the community, no matter how difficult the circumstances.
“Now is a hard time for everyone,” says Griffin. “A little bit of joy in carb-and-sugar form at someone’s doorstep gives you something to look forward to.”