Kia Robinson-Jarrett never was known as "the cook."
"I never knew how to cook," she says. "I remember asking my mother, 'How do you make tuna salad?' She said, 'Boil the eggs.' I said, 'How long do you boil an egg?' She was patient."
But, Robinson-Jarrett says, "If there was one thing on earth I could do well, it was make good pound cake."
Robinson-Jarrett now is owner of KiaKakes — where she cooks up mini pound cakes in a variety of flavors.
- Mary Kate Steele
- Kia Robinson-Jarrett
A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Robinson-Jarrett originally majored in broadcast journalism at Langston University, but she graduated with a physical therapy degree.
Her sister Grace taught her how to make her first "foolproof" pound cake. "I made that cake for every occasion. If your baby was born, you got a pound cake. If you were graduating, you got a pound cake. Christmas. Thanksgiving.
"Mine are not dense and dry like other people's pound cakes. Mine are super moist and sweet and buttery. They melt in your mouth."
Now a physical therapist, Robinson-Jarrett began her pound cake business earlier this year. Her friend ran into one of Robinson-Jarrett's old boyfriends, who said, "Oh, Kia. All she was good for was making good pound cake."
Robinson-Jarrett thought, "He's still a jerk, but he's got a point. If I can do that one thing well, I should do it. I said out loud, 'I'm going to be a pound cake mogul.'"
Robinson-Jarrett tweaked the recipe her sister gave her. "I wanted to make as good or better a recipe." Three batches later, she created her giant muffin-sized KiaKakes. "I still manage to keep that moist, velvety texture."
She made a Facebook post announcing the debut of KiaKakes, which she sells for $5 each. "People immediately wanted to try it."
She delivered them all around Memphis for free. "It just really blew up to the point where I couldn't keep up with it."
When COVID-19 hit, Robinson-Jarrett was working 50 percent of the time as a physical therapist, so she had more time for KiaKakes. "This voice said, 'Start shipping.'
"People started asking me, 'Does this come in lemon?' That sounded absurd to me. What a crazy thing. Putting flavors in my world-famous pound cake? It's like desecrating a national treasure." Her husband Corey said, "It's not what you like, but what everybody likes." So she started with lemon and added Strawberry Swirl and Blueberry Lemonade.
Her business really took off when she started doing photo shoots and posting the pictures of herself with her cakes online. "For my Tropical Series, I turned my backyard into this tropical oasis."
Robinson-Jarrett, who now works out of a commercial kitchen, offers 10 flavors, but not all at the same time. Her Summer Series included Kia Lime Pineapple, Kia Lime Peach Cobbler, and Orange Oasis. Upcoming flavors include Pumpkin Latte and Salted Caramel Rum Cake, which has a glaze made from Ole Smoky Tennessee Salty Caramel whiskey.
"In the Pink Series, I'm going to be coming out with Pink Lemonade, Pink Cotton Candy, and New Orleans Wedding Cake, a vanilla almond wedding cake."
KiaKakes are now available at Bazaar in Collierville, Cordelia's Market in Harbor Town, and Buster's Wines and Spirits. "I want to be all over Memphis and, really, all over the South and the nation."
Robinson-Jarrett, who says her entire family helps in the business, doesn't want a brick-and-mortar bakery. "I don't want a storefront. I don't want to have to go and stand at my counter and wait for people to come in. I want to mass-produce as many as possible and get them to everybody."
Visit kiakakes.com to order KiaKakes online or call 210-2005. Delivery is still free. Ships anywhere in the nation.