We had the good fortune of connecting with Layce Smith and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Layce, what inspires you?
There is a legacy of female artisans in my family that I draw a lot of inspiration from. My great-grandmother on my mother’s side had 18 children, and I’ve always been fascinated with the stories about how she baked everything from scratch, churned her own butter, and sewed nonstop to keep everyone fed and clothed. She and my great-grandfather were country folk, so these skills were a necessity rather than a hobby for her, but I admire so much what she was able to accomplish on a daily basis. What were her daily chores are now a form of artistic expression for me, so I think about her a lot when I’m developing recipes for my business. She didn’t have the luxury of wasting any ingredients, so I try to avoid any wastefulness in my recipes. This is part of the reason why my cookies are more of a shortbread texture. Egg whites are required for the royal icing decorations, which sometimes results in yolks being discarded and therefore wasted. To avoid wasting the yolks, I’ve adapted my cookie recipe to be slightly different in texture than a common sugar cookie, but the result is still delicious. My great-grandmother on my father’s side is another female artisan from whom I draw inspiration. She had a bit more time on her hands with only two children, and she was big into the hand-painted china and porcelain plate movement. I have a series of hand-painted plates that she produced in the 1950s, and they are some of the most precious items that I own. The palettes she worked with and the style she developed in her work have definitely influenced my personal taste and designs. She used a lot of soft, muted colors and did mostly floral patterns. When I first started making my cookies, they all had floral patterns and soft, muted colors. That’s still my favorite set of cookies to make because it reflects my own personality and the vision I have for Heirloom Baking Company: carefully curated collections of custom consumable curios.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
When I’m not baking and decorating cookies, I teach English Literature. As one might easily guess, I love to read. When I was a child, I would sneak off alone and read for hours and hours, and it was always fiction. I was (and still am) fascinated and inspired by the vulnerability of great storytellers who put so much of themselves into their art. Reading a fairly extensive number of stories and being exposed to and learning to appreciate the unique styles of a wide range of writers has always given me the confidence to develop and express my own unique style in every aspect of my life, but especially now in my baking. All of my original cookie designs are what I would call “nostalchic”—they look a bit like something your grandmother would have embroidered on a pillow or painted on a dish, but I also like to mix in sleeker shapes and play around with my colors, which sort of disrupts the fresh-out-of-the-antique-store aesthetic. Making cookies that reminisce on the past (without completely ignoring current trends) is what I think sets my brand apart. However, antique-themed cookies are a bit of a niche market. Most of the time my clients already have a theme picked from something they’ve seen on the Internet, so I’ve had to adapt a bit. Consequently, I don’t get to devote as much time to developing my original designs as I would like. Be that as it may, I enjoy each and every set of cookies that I work on because every order is another chance for me to hone my skills. As I continue to grow my brand, I do hope that more people will ask for my original designs, but for now I am having tons of fun trying new things and adding my own flair to the popular themes that I often find myself working on.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m basically a 90-year-old woman trapped in a 29-year-old body, so my answer to this question is definitely going to reflect that. Before the pandemic, I met my dad almost every Saturday morning at Swiss Pastry Shop on Vickery Boulevard to drink coffee and split a plate of sticky buns. It is a cozy local treasure that I love to share with out-of-town visitors because it has an established history in the area, and it’s location next to the train tracks keeps it sort of hidden away and makes it feel timeless. From there, I would cross over I-35 to the Montgomery Street Antique Mall. I’m on a constant and never-ending search for jadeite dishes and early editions of Louisa May Alcott novels, but the antique mall is fun to peruse even when I’m not on the hunt. There are some really impressive pieces of history spread across the expansive sea of booths, so it’s almost like walking through a museum. Archie’s Gardenland is another local business worth visiting. The entire nursery is picture-perfect, and sometimes they host food trucks on the weekends to support other local businesses, so I love that aspect as well. For a fancy night out, I love to go to Saint-Emilion Restaurant, but for a more relaxed atmosphere my go-to is Tokyo Cafe. There are some obvious Fort Worth staples that also come to mind: the Kimble Art Museum, the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, The Fort Worth Zoo, Joe T. Garcia’s, the Trinity Trails, Sundance Square, all the Magnolia Street shops and eateries, fun local breweries like Martin House and Rahr, and the list just goes on. Fort Worth has so much to offer. There’s really no excuse to feel bored here.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My business would be nothing without the support and encouragement of the staff at North Side High School. My fellow teachers are often my guinea pig recipe testers, and they are such good sports about it. I appreciate them with my whole heart. I also have to give a shoutout to my three sisters: Lindsey, Lauren, and Londyn. They are the ones who introduced me to the idea of decorated cookies, and their children are my favorite little customers in the whole wide world. Finally, I must mention and thank my husband, Tanner, who gives and gives and gives of himself so that I can be more.

Website: https://www.heirloombaking.company/
Instagram: @heirloombakingcompany
Facebook: @heirloombakingcompany

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