With the apparent end of the world just a few weeks away, and hordes of vacant-eyed consumers storming big box stores for Black Friday sales, Kayla Morrison is prepared.
She will fight the zombies with cupcakes.
In fact, she has a selection of baked goods to see Whitehorse through just about any crisis, including the apocalyptic cold of Yukon winters.
“In the dead of winter, you’re desperate for apple pie. It’s dark, and miserable, and you need comfort food,” she said.
Morrison (“like Jim or Van,” she says when asked for the spelling) owns and runs the newly opened Blackbird Bakery, located in Waterfront Station down by the Yukon River.
Even though she doesn’t believe the Mayan prediction that the world really will end on Dec. 21, she’s armed to the teeth with a brass-knuckled coffee mug and confectionaries of all sorts.
“It makes the zombies much less frightening. You can appease them with cupcakes,” she said, laughing.
The new bakery had its official opening Nov. 15, and Morrison said things are going well so far.
“Things definitely picked up once people started to figure out that we’re actually open. The building (with some retail units still under construction) is a little deceiving right now. But once we got some lights on the boardwalk, things have picked up since then.”
While the storefront and kitchen might be new to Morrison, baking definitely isn’t. She just never predicted it would become her life.
Morrison grew up in Whitehorse, and had her first experiences in customer service as an admittedly shy and geeky girl in high school.
“I think my first job that involved interacting with people and giving them things to consume was at the Midnight Sun, and I really enjoyed it. You have to talk to people, to be the social coffee-shop-girl in order for things to go over well. I just really enjoyed it as a process. I kept thinking about it as, ‘this is the job I will do while I find the grown-up job that I’ll do as a grown-up,” she said.
After high school, she moved to Ottawa to study humanities and eastern religion (“because I’m practical like that,” she says) and got a job at the Three Tarts bakeshop.
“I remember the first Christmas there. You’re at work anywhere from 12 to 18 hours a day because it’s Christmas time and the world is coming to an end and everyone wants baked goods. I would go home at the end of the day and be standing in the kitchen. I would get bored, and I would bake cookies. That’s when I realized that this isn’t something I do while I wait for my grown-up job. This is my grown-up job, and I should just run with that,” said Morrison.
But being a baker and running a bakery are two very different things. Morrison knew that opening her own bakeshop would mean making a commitment to stay put and work hard, and she didn’t want to stay in Ottawa.
So she dragged her sister-in-law back from Ottawa to be her second baker and “mostly just run around the kitchen making sure I don’t burn stuff and covering things I forget.” Together with personal savings and a few private investors, she decided to give it a go here in her hometown.
She jokes that her business model essentially relies on people’s forgetfulness, something never in short supply during the holidays. Well, that and plenty of delicious, real and totally pronounceable ingredients, she said.
“The basic premise is that you can walk in off the street. So if you’re going to a dinner party, or it’s somebody’s birthday and you realize you forgot, or there is some other last-minute panic, you don’t have to plan ahead to bring dessert. You can do it spur of the moment. If you’re having a bad day and need to eat an entire cake, that can happen for you.”
Most of her products can be bought over-the-counter, everything from cookies and scones to cakes that can comfortably feed a dinner party of six or eight. She also does special orders for larger sugary needs.
“If you have a feast coming up and you need to feed an entire army, we can do that too, we just need a little advance notice,” she said.
Contact Jesse Winter at