For so many college students, gourmet baking in their apartment involves making Ramen noodles or occasionally making brownies with a box mix. However, for Gabrielle McBay, a sophomore business major, a more complex baking project may be trying to create a banana pudding or a peach cobbler cupcake.
Gabrielle, who also goes by “Gabby,” discovered her love of baking at the age of eight and has been creating treats for others ever since.
“I always used to bake in the kitchen with my mom when I was younger, and it kind of stuck with me,” she said.
She started taking cookies to school during her freshman year of high school because she was starting at a new school and didn’t know anyone.
“Not necessarily to get people to like me, but I was just making cookies and bringing them to my classmates so they would know who I was and what I liked to do,” she said.
But when her mom wouldn’t have baking supplies when she needed them, she got upset and started making Gabrielle charge $.50 per cookie.
As time went on, she transitioned from just family and friends to corporate clients, such as TV One and Chef “G Garvin” at the Texas State Fair, and now she has her own business, called Crumbs By Elle.
And lately, she has been trying to do more things on campus so people can know who she is and put a face with her company name. Sometimes people are surprised when they find out that she’s black, but Gabrielle thinks that it makes her stand out. She likes the edge that it gives her and responds lightheartedly.
“They also say, ‘I never thought that you’d be so small,’” she said. “I guess I’m smaller than what people would assume a baker would be. I guess I’m supposed to eat up all of my products and be fat.”
Outside of running her business and classes, Gabrielle contributes to other activities. She serves as vice president of TCU’s division of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, stays involved in the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO) and sings in Word of Truth gospel choir.
With so much going on, she has to prioritize and occasionally make sacrifices.
“Last semester I got caught up in baking and orders and stuff and I forgot, ‘Okay Gabby—you’re here for school, what’re you doing?’ So this semester I’m definitely more focused on school than business,” she said.
She also creates new flavors to sell based off of what she notices other people like and what she thinks will make delicious and different cupcakes or cookies.
“I have classic flavors, but I also try to do out of the box flavors,” she said. ”I just try to think of different things that a lot of other people aren’t doing.”
Her family and friends are her most trustworthy taste-testers, she said.
“They never hesitate to taste my new flavor,” she said.
Her family and others who have had an impact on her life even have a treat named after them. Gabrielle got the idea to give her treats special names after she saw that other bakeries used creative names for their baked goods.
“They had names for stuff, and I just thought that I would be different and name them after people that have had an impact on my life,” she said. But at the end of the day, her favorite part of baking is the look on people’s faces whenever they get one of her baked goods. “I love for people to have a better day just because they have one of my cupcakes or my cookies,” she said.