Jill Donaldson’s fondest memories include baking alongside her maternal grandmother Lilly. She lovingly describes her as a patient, kind, and generous person whom she admired for never judging others. They shared a sweet tooth which they happily fulfilled by baking treats together like Labneh cake (a Greek yogurt cake) and Lilly’s infamous chocolate butter cream.
With encouragement from her Sito (Grandmother in Arabic), Jill focused her studies on entrepreneurship at the University of Miami with an ultimate goal to work in the pastry food business. Sadly, Lilly passed her Sophomore year but she honored her inspirational role by attending L’Academie de Cuisine in D.C. to become a pastry chef. She still uses her trusty Kitchen Aid mixer from the seventies. She landed a crucial job at the celebrated Upper Crust French Bakery in Florida. This is where she honed her skills and consistently met the high expectations of the owner, who still works daily in her seventies!
Jill started noting some health challenges in her early twenties that she connected to certain foods. She experienced significant relief upon eliminating dairy and gluten. Soon she realized her options for treats that didn’t sacrifice taste were limited. So she set off to make the best pastry mixes she could that avoided the top allergens so everyone could enjoy them. The result of her determination and persistent testing and retesting is her line of LillyBean baking products that are vegan and free from gluten, soy, dairy, nuts and artificial colors.
Elwood Thompson’s quickly became the first retail store to sell her products and also served as a supportive marketing resource. Her relentless energy and work ethic led to the addition of an impressive array of stores like Good Foods Grocery, Libbie Market, Wegmans, and Whole Foods. RVAg Markeplace is proud to offer her scrumptious cupcake mixes in chocolate, lemon, and vanilla and her irresistible buttercream frosting mixes in chocolate, vanilla bean and cinnamon. Oh and don’t forget the popular gooey blondie mix!
What made these top retailers embrace her products and why did she win the 2019 Sofi new product award? Taste and versatility! Jill didn’t want to deprive herself of the ideal taste and texture of treats due to her food intolerances and she knew customers deserved the same. A variety of preparation options are listed right on the bag so customers can use their preferred source of milk and fat. Her website features tutorials and even creative ideas from customers. Try adding blueberries and lavender to her cupcakes for additional taste and color or walnuts and raisins to transform her cupcakes to breakfast bars! She also has creativity-inspiring cupcake baking kits for kids!
Jill feels fortunate to provide her baking mixes during this time of social distancing remarking, “Baking is comforting and people are doing more of it these days at home with family and friends. It helps to fill up your home with a yummy smell.” Her labor of love is reinforced when customers relay how meaningful her products are to their families. She states, “I am filled with pride and gratitude when a customer tells me the whole family loved it and especially when a parent says I baked one treat for the whole family versus something separate for one child with allergies.” Her products are made in an allergy free environment with precise guidelines to prevent cross-contamination. Her customers appreciate this attention to detail as illustrated in one review: “First vegan and gluten free bake that meets my strict allergy requirements, my simple and lazy cooking skills and they are AMAZING!!”
Jill is frequently experimenting with new tastes with small batches. You have her pumpkin spice cupcake mix to look forward to soon! Her baking mixes and cupcake kits are a great way to make someone feel special and to enjoy family time!
Check out her appearance on CBS 6 Virginia this Morning!