“Free-From” Business Spotlight: Carly Shapiro, Founder of Carly’s Better Bites
It’s no surprise that I’m always on the lookout for new gluten-free treats! A few months ago, a new company I saw on instagram caught my eye: Carly’s Better Bites. These bright, beautiful cake bites were 100% gluten-free, made in small batches in NYC. I knew I needed to try them! I reached out and ordered the holiday edition of the bites. I can safely say that as beautiful as they look on the outside, they are equally as delicious on the inside. I got a chance to chat with the founder Carly Shapiro of Carly’s Better Bites.
AFW: How was Carly’s Better Bites started?
Carly: I’ve been gluten free since I was ten years old. At that time there weren’t many gluten-free foods available. In an effort to make sure I still had treats I could enjoy, my mom taught me how to bake gluten-free treats that were safe for me to eat. It became an activity that my mom and I did together quite often. When I went to college at Syracuse I studied business I cooked the majority of my meals as it was hard for me to find food I could eat on campus.
After graduation, I got a job at a PR agency where help many meetings & events with other companies that was catered. They would constantly serve cupcakes and cookies and many other things I wasn’t able to eat. There were never many gluten-free options, especially ones that were desserts. At first I thought I was the only one wanting more gluten-free options, but over time many of my co-workers also began to ask for gluten-free options as well.
AFW: I love the idea of bites versus full cakes. What inspired you to go with a smaller sized treat?
Carly: I wanted to make something that was small because no one ever eats the whole cupcake! There really aren’t other bite sized gluten free desserts available other than a macaron. I started experimenting and it took me a month before I came up with the bites. I left my job and they’ve taken off!
AFW: Your bites have become very popular! How are you handling the high demand?
Carly: My mom is a huge help! She does a lot of the baking and I do the coating/decorating. I have a few interns who also help with the baking. Every little bit helps! I’m looking at hiring someone full-time as well.
AFW: Your bites are 100% gluten free. Do you make your own gluten-free flour mixture, or use a store-bought brand?
Carly: I use store brand gluten-free flour, but I add and eliminate different ingredients. We’re looking towards creating our own flour mixture since what we’re using currently is a hybrid of a few different store-bought brands.
AFW: How do you dream up the different flavors?
Carly: I’ve had the main five flavors since I started red velvet, chocolate chip cookie dough, funfetti, chocolate, and vanilla. During the holiday I released the limited-edition seasonal flavors. Those flavor ideas really were inspired by holiday drinks (pumpkin spice & peppermint moca), caramel fig & cranberry cinnamon were based on holiday treats that I had never found in a gluten-free form. The flavors are primarily things I see that I wish were gluten-free that aren’t!
AFW: Your bites are not just delicious, they’re also beautiful! Does the design/look of each bite go into the flavor decision process?
Carly: The cake comes first, then I’ll base the topping and decor on the flavor profiles.
AFW: You take custom flavor orders which is amazing! What’s the best/worst flavor request you’ve received?
Carly: Most custom orders I get are for special occasions (baby showers, weddings, etc.). I also can create edible images which can be used as a topping (this is perfect for a logo or picture). There’s no “bad” requests, but when people ask for one flavor instead of a mixture I feel bad because I want them to taste them all!
AFW: Living in NYC is a haven for those who are living a gluten-free lifestyle. What are your favorite gluten-free spots?
Carly: Bistango, The Little Beet, Grey Dog for gluten-free sandwiches, Jennifer’s Way Bakery, and Juice Generation. I really want to try Sadelle’s as I haven’t found a gluten-free bagel that I love yet!
AFW: You’re now running Carly’s Better Bites full-time. What are your future plans for the business?
Carly: Lookout for more bite sized treats beyond cake! We’ll see where that takes us in terms of opening a pop-up shop or possibly being sold in stores.
AFW: Describe your bites in three words.
Carly: Gluten Free Heaven!
Thanks so much for Carly for taking the time to speak with me! Purchase the bites online here.