UA Eller student brings heaven to your taste buds
University of Arizona junior Kayla Lancaster makes Tucsonans’ taste buds “jump for joy” with her tasty treats.
Lancaster, a student studying management information systems at the Eller College of Management, started her own online bake shop, Taste Buds Bakery, about three years ago as a junior at Marana High School.
“I really always had that passion for creativity but also had a business mindset, my parents called me their little entrepreneur when I was a kid,” Lancaster said in an email. “Once I started baking and decorating cakes I knew that was what I really wanted to do, it perfectly blends creativity with business.”
Lancaster has been baking with her mom and grandmother since she was a small child. At 11 years old, she began making and decorating her own birthday cakes.
Lancaster said her mom is one of her biggest inspirations and supporters and is always willing to help her when she needs it.
“My mom really inspires me, she always taught me to give to others and I think that’s why I value helping people, improving lives and bringing happiness to others,” Lancaster said. “Sometimes my mom will even bake with me and jam out with me in the kitchen while I bake or decorate and we just badly sing and dance around the kitchen with something in the oven and both KitchenAid’s on mixing the next batches.”
Lancaster bakes and decorates cakes, cupcakes and cookies. According to her, one of the best parts about selling baked goods is being able to meet and make connections with the people in the Tucson community.
“Baking has been really uplifting for me,” Lancaster said. “Every time I see the joy on my customer’s face when they pick up a cake or see the kids literally jump for joy when I deliver a cake at a birthday party just makes me so happy.”
Shelby Calvillo, a local health inspector, is one of Taste Buds Bakery’s regular customers. Of the many cookies, cupcakes and cakes she has ordered, Calvillo has never been less than happy with the result, she said.
Calvillo described Lancaster as a “bubbly, happy girl.”
“I have nothing but great things to say about Kayla’s bakery,” Calvillo said. “I trust her with every important moment, from gender reveals, birthdays, baby showers and even my sisters wedding cupcakes, she always exceeds my expectations.”
Calvillo said that she is excited to see how Lancaster will use her degree to grow her business. She said she “definitely sees her going far with her skills, talent and pure drive.”
In addition to selling baked goods, Lancaster teaches cupcake decorating classes for kids 3-12 years old. Lancaster finds that teaching these classes is one of her favorite things to do and next year, she hopes to offer these classes as birthday party entertainment.
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Lancaster’s high school English teacher, Katie Anderson, met Lancaster when she was a sophomore in high school. Anderson remembers Lancaster always carrying around baked goods and even selling to other students in the class. According to Anderson, Lancaster was occasionally late when coming from her culinary class, but she always brought Anderson a treat as a late pass.
“I am so impressed with what she’s doing, both as a baker and as a business owner,” Anderson said. “She’s always known exactly what her path is and has taken steps to make sure she gets where she needs to be. Kayla is a treasure.”
Anderson “strongly recommends” that people purchase their baked goods from Taste Buds Bakery, saying the owner is “dedicated, passionate and talented.”
Lancaster is very focused on school and her studies in management information systems but, according to her, it’s definitely a challenge to be a full-time college student and run a small business simultaneously. To remedy this, she has tried to build a decent schedule that works for her and has tried to employ serious time management skills.
Someday, Lancaster said, she would love to open a real storefront. Until that reality becomes feasible, however, she plans to work in management information systems following graduation and keep the bakery small and online.
Lancaster said she believes in the importance of supporting local and small businesses because she values “creativity, respect, quality and honesty.” According to Lancaster, she would accept anyone and never turns down the opportunity to work with another human being.
“I think people from the Tucson community should buy from me because I don’t just sell cakes, I build relationships and bring people’s visions to life,” Lancaster said. “I create unique cakes and I’m not afraid to take on a challenge.”
For more information on Taste Buds Bakery or to place an order, visit Lancaster's website at tastebudstucson.com, her Facebook page @tastebudsbakery or her Instagram and Twitter pages @tastebudstucson.
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