By Nathan Turner Jr.
For The Birmingham Times
April and Lacy McClung faced a challenge in 2013. How could they raise $14,000 to send their 13-year-old son to Europe for 20 days and their 16-year-old son to China for 17 days as part of a student ambassador program? They had nine months to come up with the money for the summer 2014 trips.
Lacy settled on an answer: his Big Mama’s pound cake. Made using a recipe from his late grandmother, Emily Magnolia McClung, the cakes not only helped secure the funds for the teens but also led to the creation of Emily’s Heirloom Pound Cakes. The company now produces 500 pound cakes per week that are shipped around the country.
“Big Mama’s cake taps into nostalgia. It’s a Southern classic,” said April, a native of Miami, Fla. “Grown men have cried after tasting it. They say they have not had anything like it since their own grandmothers passed.”
April remembers panicking when her husband told her that they were going to send sons Lacy III and J. Alexander to China and Europe, respectively, as student ambassadors.
“I did not have even $500 in the bank, said April. “Any person married to a pastor, doesn’t want to say they do not have faith.”
Lacy, who is pastor of the Carpenter’s House Worship Center in Pelham, suggested his grandmother’s secret pound cake recipe as a way to raise the funds. Emily Magnolia McClung was born in 1912 and raised a family of nine in Columbus, Miss. She died in 2003 but left a legacy to her heirs: a recipe for a moist, tasty pound cake.
April used her marketing skills to spread the word about the cake via mailings and emails to friends, coworkers, and strangers. She got a sales boost when she took 10 pound cakes to a farmers’ market in Homewood. Besides cake sales, she collected about $1,000 in donations, as well.
The door soon opened to sell the cakes at the Belk Mountain Brook location. And another vendor’s cancellation created a space at the Market at Pepper Place, where the McClungs sold out their supply of 18 round cakes and 100 slices on their first day.
“Through what started as a successful fundraiser, we learned that not only do our friends think this is one of the best pound cakes they have ever tasted but many others feel the same,” the McClungs said. “Consequently, Emily’s Heirloom Pound Cakes was born July 2014.”
An opportunity to sell at the Summit shopping center would follow.
Emily’s Heirloom Pound Cakes are available online (see “For More Information …” below) and in 23 Walgreen’s stores in the Birmingham area. The company’s goal is to add 25 Walgreen’s locations per quarter to the list of places where the product is sold.
Lacy, a Detroit, Mich., native who also owns Solid Contracting Co., said the desert enterprise walks hand in hand with a higher power.
“Our faith in God’s Word became real,” he said. “The cake business doesn’t exist without faith.”
According to April, the company, which is headquartered in the Chef’s Workshop in Hoover, owes its success to “faith, grace, and the anointing.”
For more information …
Address: 3439 Lorna Lane Hoover, AL
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