Detroit mom finds success baking for 'food challenged'

Motown Freedom Bakery offers breads, treats for people living with top 8 food allergies

DETROIT - Katie Kolbus knows how people feel when they want to enjoy a sweet treat, but their diet restrictions keep them from doing so easily.   

"From my personal experience of not even going to Whole Foods, and looking for something that I could just pick up because I wanted a treat and I didn't want to have to bake it myself," said Kolbus. "I couldn't find something that met all of my requirements."

Kolbus is a certified holistic health coach, but has loved baking since she was a girl. In her early 20's, she discovered her digestive problems were due to eating products with gluten, dairy and soy and had to completely change her diets.

"That changed my entire world and I had to relearn how to bake, and I had to check labels and I had to change how I eat, so that I could feel better," said Kolbus.

Kolbus developed recipes for herself and her family to enjoy, but then decided to give them to family and friends to sample.

"I started to really figure out that if I was wanting these things for myself other people are probably looking for that, and I started sharing and sending things to people to try, just to see what they thought of how it tasted and was it even something decent," said Kolbus. "We got great feedback and eventually after years of doing this and getting wonderful feedback from people, I decided to make it into a business."

Kolbus said her brownies are what really launched her business.

"People who try our brownies, it wins them over to believe that allergen-friendly, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and healthier made, with better ingredients, can actually taste good," Kolbus said.

Kolbus now runs Motown Freedom Bakery out of her Detroit home. She bakes breads, brownies, fruit bars, cookies, donuts and muffins among other bake goods in her kitchen.

Her husband Dave and son Jack deliver the products around metro Detroit. They also sell them at the Franklin Farmer's Market every Sunday.

Anyone can enjoy her creations, but Kolbus specializes in foods for people limited by their allergies. Her website says she specializes in baking for the 'food challenged.'

"We address the top eight which is gluten, dairy, soy, eggs peanuts, tree nuts and then fish and shellfish," said Kolbus. "Then, we also do not use corn or sesame, which kind of round out the top ten for me."

Customers like Betty Rose are thankful for the variety they can get from Motown Freedom Bakery.

"Medically I need to be gluten free, or for health reasons, and I also want things that taste good that are good for me," said Rose. "A few years ago, it was very difficult to find food that would be tasty and allergy free so this is great."

"Outstanding, the quality is you know, better than anything you find in a stores really," said Bob Willke, another customer.

Kolbus is busy, sometimes working around the clock to meet her demand for orders, including for the Sunday farmer's market.

"Market preparation for our Sunday farmer's market is usually overnight, because we get a lot of preorders of our sandwich bread along with all the other treats we want to sell at the market," said Kolbus. "Then for holidays, when we get really busy, it's often several nights in a row where it's pretty much 24-hour baking."

While Kolbus is thrilled with the success of her family business, she said it is time to consider moving to a bigger space so Motown Freedom Bakery can continue to grow. So she and her husband are looking at commercial kitchen space.

"I need more oven time and oven space. I need more prep space and we have a lot of our customers who are saying we would love to be able to just pick something up at the store," Kolbus said. "They really would like to find it in their local store or a Whole Foods or even a little boutique store around them."

Kolbus caters to customers who have allergies or have children with allergies, but they are not her only clientele. She also has customers who have no allergies at all, but instead she said they are just looking for better quality ingredients in the foods they eat.

Kolbus' goal would be working out of a commercial kitchen before the holiday rush this fall.

For more on her bakery and the products she offers, click here.

You can also find out more on their Facebook page.

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