[Indulgence Baking Co.]
Story by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by M.Schleif Photography, additional photos by Fernweh & Liebe Photography
By day, Kayla Houchin's Oak Grove students know her as Ms. Houchin, their physical education teacher. By noon, Houchin is stirring up sweetness with her business, Indulgence Baking Co. As if 138 students and a thriving baking company weren't enough to keep her busy, she also devotes much of her off-time to an organization called charity: water. Although she seems to always be creating something beautiful, this month, her beautiful baked goods will benefit a beautiful cause. Join us as we take you inside Houchin's kitchen to see how a simple birthday party and a few French macarons can change the world.
Originally from Fessenden, N.D., NDSU alum, Kayla Houchin returned to Fargo nearly two years ago to pursue her teaching career and launch her baking business. She first heard of Scott Harrison and charity: water when she read Start Something That Matters, by Blake Mycoskie (TOMS shoe founder). She quickly realized the catastrophic need that was all around her. According to statistics, more than two times the population of the United States lacks access to clean water. "Months later, I was in the audience as Scott told his story, right here in Fargo," said Houchin. "I was hooked. I was shook. I was moved. I wanted to do something."
A few months ago, Scott Harrison released the autobiography, Thirst. It was then, reading through tears of joy, that Houchin would decide to start helping in any way she could. By purchasing one of Harrison's books, she had already started on the journey to give something that she never realized so many people needed. One book unlocks clean water for one person, for life. One hundred percent of Thirst profits go to charity: water to make this possible. This was her turning point and the inspiration to combine her passions.
Granting Birthday Wishes
With her 29th birthday on January 11, Houchin created a campaign to tie in her business, Indulgence Baking Co. with charity: water. This would mark the third time Houchin has invited others to help bring clean water to the world. Her goal would be to raise $4,140 - $30 for each of the 138 students she teaches every day. This time, for a $29 donation, Indulgence Baking Co. will give 12 birthday cake macarons or 10 water drop sugar cookies. A larger donation of $129 will you earn a larger reward; an eight-inch Confetti Birthday Cake crafted by Houchin.
"When I look at the kids in the gym that I get to teach, I think of how unfair these kids would think it is that so many people don’t have clean water. I would like nothing more than to give 138 other students, halfway around the world, clean, safe water."
To get her campaign off to an inspired start, Houchin reached out to Fernweh + Liebe Photography to capture interest and show what each donation will garner. Gathered: Boutique and Rentals set the stage, and Houchin took to Facebook and Instagram to share the story and make a bigger splash. "The first three letters in fundraising are F-U-N, so, whenever I’m raising money for a cause, I make sure that it’s fun," said Houchin.
Get to Know charity: water
With roughly 780 million people, more than double the population of the United States, in need of clean drinking water, it's no wonder Scott Harrison's non-profit is inspiring people like Houchin to help. With private donors covering 100 percent of charity: water's operating costs, his life's mission is made even more appealing. To date, they've funded 29,725 water projects for 8.4 million people around the world. There are over 35,265 charity: water members in 99 countries around the world.
"100 percent of the money raised will be used to build clean water projects," said Houchin. "Providing clean water is the single most powerful thing we can do for the whole human race. It will, without a doubt, affect more lives than anything else could. This issue could be completely eradicated in our lifetime. If you want to become a monthly contributor, become a member of The Spring. A $60 monthly donation will give 24 people clean water every year, but donors are free to choose any amount of monthly donation."
Those who donate will receive multiple updates via email, detailing each step of their progress. "The first update will be information on the country your money has been sent to, and this money won't go into the field until July. Charity: water only grants the money bi-annually," said Houchin. "The second update will be a progress report about the groundwork and when it should be completed. The third update will be a completion email with GPS coordinates, photos, and a population of the exact community that you helped. Keep in mind this is quite a lengthy process, totaling 18-24 months. The last time I did this, the money helped bring clean water to the Maweni community in Kenya."
Houchin isn't just working for an organization she'll never meet, through social media, she is able to share ideas and chat back and forth with the founder, Scott Harrison as well as Cubby Graham, the person heading up the charity’s Instagram page.
Meet Indulgence Baking Co.
At just five-years-old, Houchin caught the baking bug alongside her babysitter, Karla DeJong, while learning how to make bread, cookies and caramels. At 16, she perfected the art of cheesecake for a school fundraising auction. Both sold for $400-$500, and shortly after, the orders started coming in. At 17, she had been hired to make 12 cheesecakes for a local wedding.
As a self-taught baker, it's nearly impossible to believe that her frosted perfection and artistic ability didn't hail from years of training within culinary schools. The only formal training Houchin has experienced is a cake class she took this past July in Savannah, Georgia. To gather inspiration and education, Houchin relies on her travels and following other talented bakers on Instagram.
"Currently, my favorite thing to bake is French macarons and naked cakes. This means no frosting on the sides and is inspired by baker Christina Tosi," said Houchin. "I literally dream of elaborate dessert spreads, covering tables. I love a wide variety of different items and favors."
Weddings are Houchin's favorite events to bake for. "I really enjoy setting everything up and adding special, final touches. It’s the little things that add so much appeal to the entire display. Little signs, various heights of stands, greens, vases of flowers, candles, etc., really make the dessert pop and can create a show-stopping table," said Houchin. "Playing that small role in someone’s wedding is so meaningful to me. I have had countless people talk about their dessert, even years after their best day ever. It’s so neat to hear that and be a part of it."
Indulgence Baking Co. Classes
Interested in taking a class from Houchin? Make sure to "Like" Indulgence Baking Co. on Facebook or follow her on Instagram to stay in-the-know on her upcoming classes. She is currently offering French macaron baking classes and will soon be coordinating a cake class. All classes are located at her kitchen inside Chef's Table and Private Dining in South Fargo.
The Giving Gene
Houchin believes that giving is part of her being; and part of everyone's being, even if they haven't discovered it yet. Her inspiration started as a child, watching her mom raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for local causes that were important to her. In college, she was even further inspired by her membership in the Blue Key Honor Society. "These things play a big role in the way I operate and why I do the things I do. I attribute the biggest part of this to my mom and God. Giving brings me the greatest joy. Every time I give, it makes me to want to give more; it's addicting."
For the past ten years, Houchin has seen first-hand, the impact one person can make. In fact, she's helped raise over $80,000 for various organizations closest to her heart. "Let me make this clear, this is not because of me, this happens because of the amazing, generous folks that give; sometimes they are complete strangers, and sometimes they're the people I know really well," explained Houchin. "I believe we should give whenever we can. If there is something you truly believe in, don’t ever be afraid to step up and expend effort for the benefit of others. Never underestimate how influential your actions could possibly be for someone else."
Give Back + Treat your Valentine!
With Valentine's Day right around the corner, Indulgence Baking Company and Floret+Foliage are teaming up to help bring clean water to more people through charity: water. Place an order for your Valentine and you'll receive 10 French macarons in your choice of three flavors, plus a gorgeous floral arrangement by Floret+Foliage. All proceeds will be donated to charity: water. According to Houchin, a $30 donation unlocks clean water for one individual for a year.
The French Macaron + Floral Package Includes:
10 pack of French Macarons, nestled in a white box, wrapped in pink ribbon.
[Choose one flavor: vanilla bean, sea salt caramel, birthday cake]
Flowers by Floret+Foliage: Pink ombre posies, seasonal flowers, and greens wrapped in paper and ribbon
Valentine's Day Donation/Cost:
$30 for macarons / $75 for macarons + flowers
Pick Up Location: Chef's Table Private Dining + Events 3241 42nd St. South Fargo
[Once you order, you will be emailed the link to pay charity: water directly]
Join Houchin's Birthday Party + Give the Gift of Water
If you'd rather celebrate Houchin's birthday than Valentine's Day, make sure to check out her birthday charity event which promises that for every $29 you give, Indulgence Baking Co. will give you 12 birthday cake macarons or 10 water drop sugar cookies.
For a $129 donation, you will receive an eight-inch Confetti Birthday Cake created by Indulgence Baking Co. Simply include your name and cookie or macaron preference in the comment section after you make your donation. Reminders will be sent for pick-up information. To be clear, you can give any amount, but as Houchin says, "Every single dollar cultivates change."
Donate to Houchin's charity: water birthday link:
Midwest Nest Magazine is a monthly print and digital publication that focuses on culture around the upper midwest.