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Totally Buggin’

Heather Bugg (and her mother, her sister, and her triplets) make Ladybugg a family affair.

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Ladybugg Bakery takes the concept of a family business to a new level: Heather Bugg, her mother Valerie, and her sister Chelsea form the team that brings Ladybugg's signature banana bread, cupcakes, scones, cookies, muffins, and cakes to shops around town. (Heather's 17-month-old triplets make up the supportive B-team.) From their commercial kitchen on South Main, Heather and her crew prepare baked goods to stock Miss Cordelia's, Otherlands, Poplar Perk'N, and Trolley Stop Market, as well as cookie dough, ginger snaps, and brownies for the two YoLo locations. In fact, upstart sensation YoLo has been one of Heather's biggest customers. "They're going through almost 100 pounds of cookie dough a week," Heather says.

Heather started cooking at a young age and attended Culinary Institute LeNôtre in Houston where she specialized in pastries. She then returned to Memphis and ran her own baking business, Sugar Shack, and focused on wedding and birthday cakes and breads for Otherlands. She also worked as a pastry chef in a number of area restaurants, such as Yia Yia's, Wally Joe, and the Inn at Hunt Phelan. It was at Hunt Phelan that Heather met Mike and Debbie Rose (founder of Mrs. Fields Cookies). After preparing breakfast for the couple, Heather was offered a position as the Roses' personal chef. "I worked for them up until the time I went into the hospital with the triplets," Heather says.

When she left the hospital with three new additions to the household, working at all was a stretch for Heather and working alone was out of the question. That's when she and her mother decided to collaborate and turn Sugar Shack into Ladybugg Bakery. With Heather's 18-year-old sister Chelsea as resident babysitter, the mother-daughter duo has cranked up a small baking business since they first secured their kitchen in March.

Ladybugg aims to continue expanding their presence in local groceries and shops. "We're working really hard to get into Whole Foods," Valerie says. "That's our next step." Then they'd like to find some retail space and operate a storefront bakery. They're also in the process of getting Project Green Fork-certified and in the meantime are using cage-free eggs and whole-wheat flour as much as possible. Vegans will be happy to know that Ladybugg also has a line of vegan baked goods, and Heather is perfecting her vegan wedding cake for an upcoming ceremony. Other treats include carrot cake, strawberry cake, and a unique chai cake with brown-butter frosting.

On top of filling orders and tending to triplets, the Buggs have been particularly busy lately. Last week, Heather traveled to Nashville for the live casting call for The Next Food Network Star. She laughs and points out that, strangely enough, TLC is currently airing a show about a baker with triplets called The Bakery Bunch. But perhaps there's room for a baking mother of triplets on the Food Network?

The Buggs are also gearing up for their part in the Great American Bake Sale on Saturday, September 18th, at the Hernando Farmer's Market in Mississippi. All proceeds from the sale go to Share Our Strength, a national organization that combats childhood hunger. Ladybugg Bakery organized the event.

"There will be Mrs. Fields Cookies, and our stuff, and La Chica Bakerita, and a bunch of people who have volunteered," Heather says. The event coincides with Hernando's Water Tower Festival and will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Find Ladybugg's booth by looking for the T-shirt with the Ladybugg slogan: "Local Bakers Have Better Buns."

You can find out more about the Great American Bake Sale and Ladybugg Bakery on the bakery's Facebook page or e-mail ladybuggbakery@aol.com.

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