Date: July 31, 2023 | Story: Eileen Beard | Photography: Rett Peek | Styling: Bailey Dougan |
The mother-daughter duo behind Daisy Pastry Shoppe brings spirited sweets to central Arkansas
If you’ve been to any of the half dozen farmers markets in the Little Rock area over the past year, you may have noticed one vendor in particular who really grooves to the beat of their own drum: Daisy Pastry Shoppe. Their bright pink table is decked out with glittering disco balls and vintage cassette tapes identifying treats with names of classic rock hits like “Whole Lotta Love” (a brown butter blondie inspired by the Led Zeppelin song) and “Magical Mystery Tour” (a triple berry sandwich cookie with lemon filling fit for The Beatles). But for Jennifer Hill Green and Ashanti Parker, the mother-daughter team behind this exuberant pop-up shop, baking is serious business.
It all started with Cupcake Wars. When Ashanti was still just a little girl, she was obsessed with the Food Network reality show and told her mom she wanted to become a baker. Meanwhile, Jennifer idolized chef “Duff” Goldman on Ace of Cakes, and she had a hunch she could make cakes as beautiful as his. “I was baking when I was 10 years old because my grandmother liked to cook and bake a lot,” Jennifer says. She dreamed of starting a business she could pass down to her kids, so she bought some cake pans and started experimenting with her little ones by her side. “She had me and my other siblings involved, but I really loved it most,” Ashanti says.
By 2020, Jennifer had a successful custom cake business in addition to her full-time job at a medical lab in Texas, and Ashanti had moved back to The Natural State and was creating content for a trainer at a Little Rock gym. Not only did Ashanti miss her mom terribly, but she missed baking, too—so she decided to enroll in a two-year virtual pastry program with the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts and convinced Jennifer to join to perfect her skills.
Before long, circumstances brought Jennifer back to Arkansas and the two started baking their “homework” in the same kitchen. They worked so well together that Jennifer decided the time was right to leave her previous career and focus on pastry school full-time. “I was in the medical field for 20-plus years,” Jennifer says. “It was hard, but I knew that I had to do it for Ashanti and to get this off the ground.” The two began to develop a business plan while they were still in school and started testing out recipes on friends and family.
It was at Ashanti’s gym, of all places, that the duo would sell their first decadent desserts. One day, they made a box of assorted sweets to give one of the trainers on his birthday. “One client in particular, she saw that box and she ended up calling,” Ashanti recalls. Orders took off from there, even among the gym’s weight-watching clientele. “You have no idea how many times I had to sneak boxes in the gym. It was like Mission Impossible,” she laughs.
Given Ashanti’s content background, it’s no surprise the duo would create such a strong brand for their new business. “This is a very competitive field. So you kind of have to pull out all the works if you want to be different,” Ashanti says. The retro rock ’n’ roll theme came to these music lovers naturally, given ’70s tunes are often what’s playing in the background while they bake.
In October 2022, the two attended their first farmers market at Bernice Garden and sold out. Jennifer says she hasn’t looked back since. Together, she and Ashanti bake and sell cakes, cookies, bars, and breads, both through pre-orders on their website and at various markets and pop-ups. “It was definitely well worth me backing away from the 9-to-5 to come up with a business with her that she can pass down to her children and further on down,” Jennifer says. “That’s really important to me, that family legacy.”
Sweet on Nostalgia
Like their musically named desserts, Daisy Pastry Shoppe’s products themselves reflect a retro vibe. For example, the “Let’s Go Crazy” Rice Krispie treat is a funky, colorful take on a childhood favorite.
Get the Goods
Through September, find Daisy Pastry Shoppe at the Hillcrest Farmers Market every Saturday from 7-11 a.m. (or until they sell out!). You can also follow along on Instagram (@daisypastryshoppe) for pop-up announcements and order goodies at daisypastryshoppe.com.
Also known as Prickly Pear Lemonade | Serves 8
8 large mint leaves
8 ounces fresh-squeezed lemon juice
4 ounces simple syrup
8 ounce prickly pear syrup (available at your local liquor store)
2 cups sparkling water or club soda
edible glitter (Daisy Pastry Shoppe buys theirs on Amazon)
lemon wedges and extra mint, for garnish
Place mint in a pitcher and use a spoon or muddler to muddle the herbs. Add lemon juice, simple syrup, and prickly pear syrup, then stir; strain out mint if desired. Top with sparkling water or club soda and a sprinkle of edible glitter. Stir and pour over ice. Garnish with lemon and mint, and enjoy.
To turn this lemonade into a batch cocktail, Jennifer and Ashanti recommend adding 10 ounces of white rum.