Over time, a few pairs have been elevated to become synonymous with greatness.
Jordan and Pippen.
Jack and coke.
Peanut butter and jelly.
Hall and Oates.
Ok, in all seriousness, it’s my honor to be an acquaintance of the subjects of this interview. Kita Underwood and Lydia Langford are two friends who met almost accidentally. After discovering they shared a similar passion, a strong bond was formed. Through this bond, Kay.Ann.The Creative Company was formed. Maybe their meeting wasn’t accidental after all…
So Sky and I sat down with these two ladies over cheesecake and sangria.
Sorry, just had to post a photo to make you jealous. Here’s what they had to say:
Ron: So, tell us a bit about yourself
Kita: Kita Underwood born in Birmingham, AL. I am 24 years old.
Lydia: I am Lydia Langford. Raised in Stevenson, AL. I have been in Birmingham for 9 years.
Ron: How did you two meet?
Kita: I met Lydia at a party. Lydia and I hit it off after we had a conversation.
Lydia: Actually, the first time we met we didn’t say much to each other.
Kita: That’s right! The second time we saw each other we talked and just clicked instantly.
Ron: How did you two discover you both had a passion for cooking?
Lydia: Ummm, it began with brunch. I think?
Ron: Oh yea! We all crashed at your place after a party.
Kita: yep, then me, Lydia and Joi just got in the kitchen the next morning. I think that’s when we realized we both really liked to cook.
Ron: When did you become interested in baking/cooking ?
Kita: As far back as I can remember. I’ve always been an insomniac and as a toddler I remember staying up late for Emeril Live. The food and live band on the show held my attention as well as any cartoon. The whole creative process of cooking was really exciting to me. Which led to the cliches. Play kitchens. Easy bakes. I’ve truly always loved food.
Lydia: Always liked to watch Mom cook. I just had to watch her because she never let me get my hands on stuff. I began cooking after she passed. Mostly because she never let me cook.
Sky: So you began cooking out of spite huh? Like “I’m gone show you I’m a good cook”
Lydia: Lol yes, I guess so. I remembered a lot of recipes through memory once I began cooking. Plus I want to mention that all these utensils I have, I got from her. She had library of cookbooks, lots of pots, cast iron skillets.
[Ron’s note: Here’s where I tried to throw a curve-ball. Unfortunately, they dodged it like trained professionals]
Ron: What’s your favorite thing to cook or bake?
Kita: Unfair question!
Lydia: Yes, very unfair question!
Kita: Hmmmm. But I will tell you this, I do love making people like what they say they don’t like. You don’t know how many people said “I don’t like cheesecake”. Oh really? Well you haven’t had our cheesecake. I just like the diversity of ingredients and trying to make something everyone will like.
Lydia: I REALLY enjoy baking but I get the most enjoyment out of people enjoying what I bake. I get satisfaction from watching people eat what I bake.
Sky: Aight, to segue off that, is there a dessert that you hate but others love? Do you still make it?
Lydia: Punchbowl cake. I hate it, hate it, hate it. My church members back home love it. My family eats it every time I make it.
Kita: I don’t care for creme brûlée. I can make it and it’s good. Personally I just prefer strong variations in texture and flavor so creme brûlée can be a little one-noted for me.
Ron: Yea it’s just sugar on top of sugar. Way too rich for me.
Ron: Favorite dish/dessert to eat?
Lydia: That’s really hard.
Kita: I’m the type of person who will try anything at least once. I’m gonna do it one time and it’ll be over. I don’t know what my favorite is. That’s really hard.
Sky: Let’s make it more specific. It’s the holidays. Which dessert are you looking forward to the most?
Kita: Hmmm. German chocolate cake
Lydia: Dulce de leche/caramel cheesecake
Sky: What’s in that Drunken Apple Cheesecake?
Lydia: I hate graham crackers. I think people like my cheesecake because I make it a bit sweeter. I make my cheesecake out of cookies. I use vanilla cookies. We turn it into a snicker doodle crust. I do not add sour cream, like New York cheesecakes. I want it to taste like a dessert.
Ron: Yea I don’t really like savory cheesecake. It defeats the purpose.
Sky: And that sauce?
Kita: It’s whiskey caramel.
Lydia: It came from bread pudding I used to serve at brunch. I began experimenting with different liquors. It helps the cheesecake even though the cheesecake can stand alone on its own.
Ron: When did you realize you were good enough to turn this into a business?
Kita: As I mentioned, I’m food network obsessed. I was watching cupcake wars. They were running recipes and this particular time I was watching and I texted Lydia and I think we can take over the world.
Lydia: Can I interject? She was texting me excited but I never thought she was serious
Kita: And we didn’t talk about it for a long time.
The next time I came over, I said don’t you think we should start on the product list. We couldn’t think of a name so we decided to use our names. Kay.Ann. The Creative Company. Joi orders a sandwich at Chicken Salad Chick called the Kay Lynne.
Ron: Why “The Creative Company”?
Kita: I wanted to be sure we weren’t labeled as a cupcakery. Not just cute women we wanted to be taken seriously in culinary world.
Lydia: It gives us room to branch out. We want to be known for more than baking. She has her business with her mom and I have my business with my dad. In 2014 I told her one of my goals for 2015 was to open a bakery. That’s another thing that needs to be noted. I couldn’t do this on my own. There’s no Lydia or Kita Cakes. Everything is 50/50.
Sky: Yea me and Ron are starting our own haberdashery.
Lydia: Get out of here!
Sky: I’m serious.
Kita: So yall have a LLC
Sky: Ain’t no limited liability, we’re taking all the liability
Ron: Yep, if I go down, he’s going down. We gonna have some fire three piece wool suits though.
Sky: Ok, moving on, how well did the promotion boxes do?
Kita: We decided if we wanted to get our name out there we had to do something different. People wouldn’t attach themselves to something with no name at all. We knew our products were strong enough that if we gave them away for free people would end up ordering them later.
Lydia: When we decided to launch we told people to follow us and they would be receiving a message from us. We singled a few people out to get the buzz out. And there was great response. Facebook, Instagram, customer photos, and grandmas liking our page.
The Drunken Apple Cheesecake became the favorite, with The Blondie becoming a close second.
Kita: Support our supporters as much as they support us. We felt like we had something great that would be the most personable way to get our names out to the community.
Ron: Sky wants to know, will Kay.Ann be creating original dishes?
Lydia: Original dishes but we wanted to make things with a twist. The Lemon Butter Cake is a pound cake.
The Blondie is a brownie without cocoa. We wanted to take traditional desserts and add our own spin to them.
Sky: So can I request my banana pudding carrot cake?
Lydia: That’s not original!
Sky: That’s original as shit! Top layer will be a 7-Up cake, bottom later banana pudding with carrot cake as the nilla wafers
Lydia: No, we’re not making that!
Sky: How can customers order?
Right now we have three products: Drunken apple cheesecake, Lemon Butter Cake and THE Blondie. Make sure you say it’s THE Blondie, we think it’s that good.
Ron: When do you plan on offering shipping?
Kita: Within a month or two, two at the max. Shipping area will also grow in time. A lot of people wanted to order things from Birmingham England and were disappointed to let them know that we were in Alabama.
This is going to be a big year for Kay.Ann. When it begins to warm up you will begin to see us at a lot of events.
Ron: What is the long term goal for Kay.Ann.?
Lydia: We want to be known. Go further than just Birmingham. Branch out as far as we can. We really try to go as far as we can. We don’t want to be capped anywhere. We don’t want to be ok with just a store in Bham.
Kita: We want the business to grow as we grow. As we give more to our customers they will trust to have those products from us. The sample boxes were just like saying “Hey, we’re here. What do you like the most?”
Lydia: Branch out to gluten free, vegan, low sugar options. We want everyone to be able to enjoy our desserts. There are so many things we can do. We haven’t even begun to tap into it yet.
Kita: It’s also a big deal that we create connections within the community, highlight other businesses. Huge part of Kay.Ann. is to give attention to other creatives.
Ron: Well that’s all that we have. Anything you would like to add?
Kita: In closing, just to touch on what we already said, we prove that two black women can work together to create something without hostility. We have a lot of similarities, but we’re opposite at the same time. We have two different flavor profiles and we don’t agree on everything. If she’s making cheesecake, I’m not going to tell her I don’t like it. I’m going to look for a way to help her work on it. We listen to everything each other has to say.
Lydia: I love the space I’m in now with this business. I look at Kita as a blessing. As far as her pushing me to do this, it’s great to know i’m in this space to have the potential to be really awesome and leave a legacy with Kay.Ann. Like I said, we’re gonna do more than bake.
Kita: I don’t want to parameters. We don’t know where we’re gonna go, we want to be more than a bakery.
There you have it. 2 Ladies and A Ladle. Goes to show you that inspiration can be drawn from anywhere. Whether you’re chilling watching Food Network or mistakenly dropping chocolate into some peanut butter [I wonder if they’d make me a banana pudding with Reese’s cups as the nilla wafers?].
Prepare yourself for cliche overload. If you have an idea or dream, chase it. Life is full of “what ifs?” Don’t look back on your life in regret. The sky’s the limit. Full eyes full hearts can’t lose. Real eyes realize real lies. Ok that last one makes no sense but in all seriousness stop doubting yourself and give it the ol college try (last one I promise).
Wanna know more or try some products? Visit these ladies @ www.kayanncreative.com