One of our newest employees, Kelly Rogers, has been a fan of Crimson & Whipped Cream for a long time. Below is a feature story she wrote about us for a journalism class. We love our regulars (especially when they turn into awesome baristas)!
Sweet treats for Norman streets:
Greeted by friendly faces and glowing Mason jar lights, one Norman bakery strives to create a friendly and personal atmosphere for its customers through organic treats, fresh cups of coffee and a unique café experience.
Ashleigh Barnett has had big dreams for herself and her future from a very young age. Aspiring to be a ballet dancer, Greenpeace activist and San Diego zookeeper, no ambition was too big for her imagination.
Currently the owner and head chef of Crimson and Whipped Cream, Barnett discovered her love for baking while attending the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. While working as a certified Pilates instructor in New York City, Barnett decided to venture into culinary school.
A section of class on baking and pastries soon sparked an inspiration for Barnett’s next career move.
“I fell in love with it,” Barnett said. “The other culinary students were miserable, but I knew I had found something wonderful.” And with that, Barnett decided to roll up her Pilates instructor mat, and roll out some cookie dough.
It wasn’t long until Barnett found herself back in her home state of sweeping wind and waving wheat. Upon returning to Oklahoma, she knew she wanted to open her own place inspired by her experiences in New York. After working in a bakery in Brooklyn, she decided to share her love of sweets with the people of Norman.
“It’s really the first job I ever loved,” Barnett said. “It showed me that you could really love your job and create an exciting work environment.” And so, the vision for Crimson and Whipped Cream rose from the warm ovens and street lamps of New York.
Crimson and Whipped Cream bakery is nestled in the heart of Campus Corner, where a number of small businesses thrive. Since it’s grand opening in July of 2010, Barnett has worked hard to find employees who share her vision and passion for crafting quality confections.
Among these dedicated employees, Barnett isn’t the only “Ashley” in the building.
Ashley Goins, manager of the Crimson and Whipped Cream bakery, is one of those who shares this passion. Goins said she loves the atmosphere, and was a regular customer before she started working at the bakery a year and a half ago.
If the dainty latte art isn’t reason enough to marvel at the coffee served at Crimson and Whipped Cream, the coffee beans are delivered fresh every week from Elemental Coffee Roasters in Oklahoma City. Goins said it is important to be involved with the small business community. Not only do they rely on local places for quality baking ingredients, but for the business and support of other blooming businesses.
The local businesses work together to connect their community with people who can help them find exactly what they need. “It’s really comforting, and really unusual to find in the business world.” Goins said. “It’s this really nice sense of community we’ve got going here.”
Reflected through its simplistic decorating style and unique atmosphere, the bakery focuses on creating a personal experience for each customer that stops by. This experience can especially be found behind the counter and in each cup of coffee.
“We try really hard to let all of our baristas have their own identity.” Goins said. The baristas are able to take pride in their creations, because they are given the freedom of creativity. Take away the measuring cups and timers, and these baristas are left with an eco-friendly coffee cup, and endless possibilities.
The baristas are given the opportunity to make their drinks with personality, and can take pride in knowing their coffee creation is one-of-a-kind. “I think that everybody really has their hands in what they’re doing, and it stands out.” Goins said.
Not only are there food artists behind the counters and coffee steam, but a large glass window reveals crafty bakers in the bakery. Ashley Wiglesworth, a pastry chef, has been working at the bakery for almost three years.
Wiglesworth draws her baking inspiration from her grandmother. As a child, she learned how to make sugar cookies and birthday cakes while spending time in the kitchen with her grandmother.
Wiglesworth said her love for art and hands on creativity carries over into her baking. It is this traditional, personal aesthetic that Barnett strives to reflect through her business, with baked goods that remind you of your grandmothers baking, and a cozy setting to enjoy them in.
After pastry school at Platt College, this Norman native found Crimson and Whipped Cream to be the perfect place for her to exercise her passion.
The location of the Crimson bakery attracts a diverse group of customers, from young couples to college professors. Barnett said she has fond memories of Campus Corner from her childhood, making this location even more significant.
“We get foot traffic and we aren’t just a car destination,” Barnett said.
Although its proximity to campus does help boost business, Barnett said the regulars keep the bakery busy even when students are gone. The summer months can be exciting for the bakers, with new recipes to try as seasonal ingredients become available, and the demand for delicious treats remains.
“Trying new recipes keeps me on my toes,” Wiglesworth said. “It’s always fun to challenge yourself and create something new, and then see people enjoy your creations.”
The summer months can be exciting for the bakers, with specialties like fresh fruit pops and strawberry Nutella muffins. These pastry chefs work hard to keep up with the seasonality of their ingredients, as well as their customers, Wiglesworth said.
Barnett hopes that the personal interactions and relationships with the customers will continue to grow, as her business grows. “I love meeting everyone and getting to know them,” Barnett said. “The customers are my favorite part of the job.”
According to crimsonbakery.com, treats such as Red Velvet Cupcakes, bearing the name of the business and spirit of the Sooners, are available daily. Other menu items vary from day to day, but the freshness and quality is a constant.
The hiss of an espresso machine may sound intimidating, but paired with the sweet smells drifting from the bakery, the atmosphere of Crimson and Whipped Cream invites its guests to kick up their feet, plug in their laptops and cozy up to a hot cup of joe, and enjoy Norman one treat at a time.