Hendersonville sixth-grader starts a signature whoopie-pie business
While COVID has wreaked havoc on many small businesses, it couldn’t stop Aunica Tomlinson from launching her dream bakery enterprise: A Piece of Maine.
“I wanted to incorporate Maine in the name because that’s where I was born,” she said. Her specialty? Historic whoopie pies — pumpkin, chocolate, peppermint, lemon, and other flavors.
A whoopie pie is a dense, cakelike baked good about the size of a hamburger. Two rounds, with a thick filling between.
“I learned in my research that these were Amish treats. When kids opened their lunch and saw this goodie, they’d shout, ‘Whoopie!’” she explains.
Her recipe is unique, developed through historic cookbook research and lots of trial-and-error baking. Her brother Clark served as taste tester.
“When I was really little, I baked cookies and cupcakes with my mom and I started to fall in love with baking,” Aunica says.
When she says “really little,” she means really little — because Aunica is an 11-year-old Rugby Middle School sixth grader. She likes school, soccer, playing the piano, and selling Girl Scout cookies. “That’s how I got some of my business experience,” she says.
She credits her first grade teacher, Sheena Greiner, with helping make her business possible. Greiner saw a newspaper article about a summer program — Camp Girl Boss — that helps middle-school girls develop entrepreneurial skills and start their own businesses.
“I thought it would be awesome for Aunica,” Greiner says. “She is so self-motivated, and she sees things through. So I sent her parents a link to the article.”
That’s all it took. Aunica signed up, took the nine-week course, and launched her business.
“I’ve always wanted to start a bakery,” she says. “So this was a perfect opportunity. Because of COVID, classes were online. I learned how to create a logo. How to create social media pages. How to advertise. How to handle money.”
Her aunt, a graphic designer, helped Aunica with her logo. Her parents, Aaron and Rachel Tomlinson, helped with required permits.
“We found the application forms online that she needed for a home-based food business,” says Aaron. “She filled them out and mailed them in.”
In her first two months, she sold 500 whoopie pies through local farmers’ markets. Now orders come through her facebook page: A Piece of Maine.
“This was her idea and she’s just run with it,” her father says.
Her mother adds, “I told her if she ever wants to sell the business, I’ll buy it.”
A Piece of Maine, Hendersonville. Find “A Piece of Maine” on Facebook, or e-mail the company for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org.