Colleen Berg can’t really connect her love of baking to something in her past.
But if you listen to the native, you understand what has presently created such a strong connection to fulfilling her aspirations to open her own bakery.
“I love kids,” said Berg. “Peter Pan has always been my hero. I will grow more responsible, but I will not grow up. I start the food fights at home. Not my kids.”
Berg, who now lives in Mundelein, has a place in mind to open a shop and also provide space for local teens to hang out after school. Kids are equally a focal point of the products she already sells through her website called 'Colleen's Sweet Treats'.
“Bakeries are a dime a dozen,” she said, “So I knew I would have to find something that would make me stand out.”
Berg’s thoughts turned to the women she brought baked goods to at the car dealership where she worked. Two of the women in the office were diabetic and one had a daughter who was diabetic and needed gluten-free products.
“I was always making sugar-free stuff for them,” Berg said.
As the graduate took greater notice, she found more and more cases of people needing specialized foods due to allergy or health challenges.
“My oldest son, his girlfriend’s mother had gastric bypass surgery, so she can’t have sugar and glutens either,” Berg said. “She needs sugar substitutes. One of my friends, her granddaughter, was born with her intestines outside the belly button, and she’s now 4. She can’t have sugars or glutens. There is a lot I didn’t even think about or realize.”
She added nut-free products in addition to the non-allergic products she was already baking for co-workers and friends. Her research took her first to the Lake County Health Department and onto the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which quickly pointed out that if she wanted to have an FDA-approved product, she needed to start calling them nut-safe or gluten-safe.
“They told me if I see something in the store that says gluten-free, it’s not FDA approved,” Berg said. “Chances are there are still traces of nuts or gluten in those products being sold.”
To eliminate that chance in her own bakery, Berg said she will have to create three separate kitchens that have solid partitions from floor to ceiling to ensure particles do not travel from one to the other.
“Each bakery has to have its own ventilation,” Berg described . “Ingredients will be listed for every product. Everything will be individually wrapped before it leaves the baking room to ensure there is nothing in the atmosphere for kids who may come in.”
She has looked at a site in Mundelein not far from Mundelein High School where one of her sons attends, the other is in junior high and both play sports. She has become a popular team mom thanks to her baking talents.
“Whatever I do, I want to have a space for the kids,” Berg said. “Some place they can be outside of school. I think it will be fun.”
Though enjoyment is the underlying theme, it’s business that will get this bakery built. Berg is seeking financial assistance, using a couple of Internet websites to raise funds to reduce the amount needed to borrow from the bank.
To assist Berg, visit these two sites: