It’s been four years since Tiffany Washington and Jo-Laine Duke-Collins first joined forces to launch baking and dessert table-design company I.M. Pastry Studio. “I.M. started in 2009, and it’s named after my grandmother Ilene Miriam,” Washington explains. “Jo-Laine and I were introduced in 2010 by friends who thought we should collaborate. I make cakes, and she does dessert table design,” which involves setting up a pastry table as a centerpiece for an event, like a wedding or a corporate party, Duke-Collins says.
Since they teamed up, they’ve grown steadily — even while holding down full-time jobs elsewhere — and now they’re building out a brick-and-mortar outlet at 1131 Nostrand Avenue in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens.
“We finally signed a lease,” says Duke-Collins. “This is a thriving community, and we wanted to give people a place to come in and order custom cakes and cupcakes, plus a cafe where they can sit down and enjoy WiFi and espresso.”
Both of the partners come from Brooklyn, but Duke-Collins grew up on the same block as the shop, which is why she saw potential in the space. “It’s an up-and-coming neighborhood,” she says. “We jumped on it immediately.”
“There’s nothing like this in the area,” Washington adds. “It’s a great opportunity to supply the community with somewhere to sit down and have a treat, and bring activities to the area.”
To wit, Washington will offer cake-decorating classes, some of which will be dedicated to teaching baking to children. She’ll teach kids to make cake pops and cookies in addition to cakes, and they’ll graduate from a junior baking academy at the end of her course.
The duo will also continue to offer their baking and table design services, and you’ll also be able to score their treats from their counter.
Washington and Duke-Collins are aiming for a summer opening, and their interior designer are hard at work on the address. But I.M. has also launched a Kickstarter campaign for, says Duke-Collins, “the final push — to buy things like equipment and signage.”
And while they build out, they’ll still be offering the services they’ve built their business on. “We definitely have the passion,” says Duke-Collins. “Tiffany is an outstanding baker, and I love event design. We’re ready to take the leap of faith.”
Head on over to I.M.’s Kickstarter page for more information and to help bring this project to life.