“Homemade with a touch of love” is how Nikki Wright, owner of the Canton-based Mrs. B’s Homestyle Eatery, describes her dreamy baked goods and take-and-bake vegetable lasagna. When she’s not working in the commercial kitchen she rents, she can most often be found at one of two farmers markets — the East Asheville Tailgate Market or the Haywood Farmers Market.
Mountain Xpress: Where are you originally from, and how did you end up in Asheville?
Nikki Wright: I grew up in Elon, North Carolina, in Alamance County. In 2009, my husband and I visited Asheville and fell in love with it. We moved here in 2009 and lived here until 2012. We then moved to Colorado for a few years. I was working for the parks department and did a few other state jobs but decided I was done with that. In 2015, I started a small catering business in Colorado, but we ended up moving back to Asheville. Asheville is so beautiful, eclectic and progressive. I just had to be in these mountains.
Who is Mrs. B?
My mom, Brenda. She grew up on a farm and had 15 brothers and sisters. Growing up, there were some days when I would come home from school, and I’d see brown eggs on the kitchen table and just knew she was making a dessert.
What are some of your must-have ingredients?
To this day, I only use brown eggs in my recipes. I get them all from farmers markets or Duckett’s Produce, a produce stand in Clyde. I sell my pecan pies there, too. I think they [brown eggs] make for a richer product. They also have to be free-range. If I could afford to use duck eggs on a regular basis, I would. They’re “oh-my-God.”
Other than naming the business after your mom, has she had other influences on the business?
Yes. The coconut pie is her recipe. I’m also hoping to start making a fruit-bread cake this fall — that’s also her recipe. She just inspires me. A lot of times, if I have questions about baking, I’ll call her, and she’ll give me advice — “Do this. Don’t do that.”
I started doing the farmers markets in May, and honestly, I’ve probably done more business here in one month than I did the whole time I was in Colorado. I’m more comfortable here. I didn’t want to step outside of my comfort zone until I was in Asheville. There’s just a vibe here that I wanted to be a part of. I love the farmers markets. I’m meeting so many people. I’ve developed such an appreciation for food and farmers. I love to trade things, too.
Has the local business community been supportive?
Oh, yes. I tend to be kind of shy. It was always easier for me to just sell my products to friends and by word-of-mouth. I’ve grown so much here. I’ve had some great resources such as the Western Women’s Business Center — they’ve been amazing. They have opened up doors for me, helped me get funding for different things, provided workshops and connected me with other vendors.
What’s been your greatest challenge?
Me. I have been my greatest obstacle. Sometimes you just have to face yourself and ask, “Why haven’t I gotten to the next level?” I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish and started checking things off. I was like, “Oh, this is what happens when you step outside your comfort zone.” Now I’m more confident. Not everyone is going to love what I do. I accept that.
What products do you sell?
On a regular basis, I sell pecan pies, coconut pies, mini-red velvet cheesecakes (they’re my husband’s favorite), homemade salted caramel sauce and a take-and-bake vegetable lasagna. All these items are for sale on my website, too. I also try to do seasonal things. I am thinking about doing a bread with candy roasters [winter squash] and maybe something with apples. I just did a peach cobbler over the summer.
Do you do any catering?
Yes. I’ve done some special-event catering for the Western Women’s Business Center, and I also do a monthly breakfast for them.
What’s your educational background?
I have an associate’s in technology. I also have a B.A. in hospitality management. These things have helped me to have a better understanding of the technical side of business. I’m also a veteran — I was in the Army for six years. I worked in administration. My husband was in the airborne, and they called us “Chairborne.” I have to give the credit of learning how to cook to my mom.
What makes your food so good?
Love, energy and passion. I also use very good ingredients.
Before I step out into other, bigger business ventures, I want to make sure I have everything together — my packaging, pricing. I’m just about there. I would love to have a food truck one day. I’ve been talking with the Small Business Administration in Haywood County, so I’m hoping something happens in the next six months or so. I love the flexibility of being in different places. Maybe one day — brick-and-mortar.