ST. ALBANS –– In late August, college freshman Alyssa Wieland officially launched her business, Lillybelle Bakes, at Local Fare, a new, year-round farmers market on St. Albans City’s Main Street.
But she planted the seed much earlier.
Last October, while a senior at Essex High School, Alyssa, of Georgia, organized a fundraiser that would help her raise more than $1,000 for a school trip to Greece: She made large bunt cakes from the recipe of her 90-year-old oma (German for grandmother), Ingeborg Wieland, who moved to the U.S. when she was in her thirties.
Now in her first semester at Champlain College, studying elementary education, Alyssa now operates Lillybelle Bakes out of her Georgia home, while working hard as a full-time student.
Alyssa has taken six of her Oma Ingeborg’s recipes to start Lillybelle Bakes: cherry walnut whiskey cakes; plum tarts; Bailey’s Irish Cream chocolate chip cake; tartlets with interchangeable fruit flavors such as peach, strawberries and apple; gluten-free chocolate chip banana cookies; and sugar shortbread cookies with jam in the center and a design on top.
Oma Ingeborg, now of New Jersey, has told Alyssa there could be 20 to 30 more recipes out there for Alyssa to use, scattered among Oma Ingeborg’s 14 siblings. Alyssa is using her grandmother as a translator in her efforts to collect the recipes and expand upon her offerings through Lillybelle Bakes.
“I’m having fun with this,” Alyssa said recently, over hot beverages at The Traveled Cup, in St. Albans. “I grew up baking with Oma, when she lived closer. Then, my dad (Charles) taught me to cook. Now, I enjoy doing both.”
Alyssa is also discovering – quickly – that Lillybelle Bakes helps her de-stress from college, her job at the Champlain College dining hall, and her part-time work as an ice skating coach at the Collins-Perley Sports and Fitness Center, in St. Albans.
Alyssa is unsure how long she will be a vendor at Local Fare, which is open every Saturday afternoon and evening, but she wants to remain there as long as possible. “I’m meeting lots of people there,” she said.
Alyssa isn’t out to make lots of money on Lillybelle Bakes; she only cares about covering her costs.
“It gives me an excuse to do what I love and make connections for the future,” she said.
Alyssa wants to teach kindergarten or third grade after she graduates from Champlain. Part of her wants to stay in Vermont, “but after Greece, I also might want to see what else is out there,” she said.
No matter her work, travels or path, Alyssa plans to keep Lillybelle Bakes a part of her life, and maybe even in a storefront.
Oh – and the “Lillybelle,” in Lilybelle Bakes? That was Alyssa’s childhood nickname from her mother, Kathy.
“It stuck and has ever since,” Alyssa said.