Freshman turns love of baking into sweet profit

While many students are checking Facebook during class, Gabrielle McBay is busy looking up cookie recipes.

McBay, a freshman business major, turned her love of baking into sweet profit when she started her own baking company, Crumbs by Gabrielle.

“Crumbs by Gabrielle is like my baby,” McBay said. “I started [baking] when I was really young in the kitchen with my mom.”

McBay said that as she got older, she had more questions about cookies, recipes, and what baking does to the batter. She started researching different recipes and had her first cookie “debut” at one of her friends’ sixth grade birthday parties.

“After that, everyone was asking for them and wanting to try them,” McBay said.

She said her favorite part of baking was seeing a person’s reaction to her product.

“I love seeing people react to that first bite,” McBay said. “That’s why I started Crumbs, because I love seeing people happy.”

But when McBay first started baking for friends and classmates, she was not trying to make a profit — she gave her sweets away for free. It was not until Trez McBay, Gabrielle’s mother, told her that she would not buy any more ingredients that Gabrielle decided she had to start charging.

“Gabrielle has a good heart,” Trez McBay said. “But she would use whatever was in the house…then when I needed flour or sugar, it was gone.”

In 2008, McBay went to a convention and spoke to celebrity chef Gerry Gavin, best known for his television show “Turn Up the Heat with G. Gavin,” about how she could expand her business. That is where she got the advice to make a website for her company,, so she could sell her product to more people.

“That’s kind of how it took off from just a hobby to an actual business” McBay said.

McBay said she made more than $5,000 in her senior year of high school, but that she has had to decline some orders since coming to college to keep up with all of her classwork and extracurricular activities. She said prioritizing was the most difficult thing about going to school while running a business. She said she now focuses more on special events like birthday parties and has done events for the Neeley School of Business.

“In high school, I had to sacrifice, but it was nothing compared to being in college,” she said.

McBay has been featured in an article by Forbes online, was a finalist in the TCU Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, and was named 2010 Black Enterprise Teenpreneur, all before finishing her freshman year at TCU. McBay said the connections and exposure from the awards and articles have really helped her business grow, and requests for orders have increased since coming to TCU.

“My favorite cupcake is the purple velvet,” McBay said. “It’s a TCU twist to the red velvet, so it’s a pretty big hit.”

McBay said she was considering going to culinary school after graduating from TCU, but said she would have to find a way to go to school and maintain her business.

As far as her dreams for the growth of her business, McBay said she hoped to someday open a cookie lounge called Elle’s Café, short for Gabrielle, where people could enjoy homemade sweets, coffee, music, and poetry.