Kat Gordon, founder of Muddy’s Bake Shop in Memphis, says her business only survived its early days due to the kindness of strangers. “There is no scientific reason we should still exist today,” she tells us. “I had no idea what I was doing; I had no money. Somehow, despite that, we had people take a personal interest.” Kat explains that people who didn’t know her stepped up and washed dishes, swept floors and brought their friends. She feels forever indebted for their kindness and, with the realization that we all impact each other, works to pass it on.

The mission of her bake shop is to make Memphis a happier place by creating delicious food and delightful experiences, treating everyone with kindness, and doing the right thing. At Muddy’s that mission means a commitment to real community in every aspect of the business, both inside and beyond its own walls, and to serving each other, its customers, and its neighbors. Full time employees of more than three months are eligible to be paid for up to 1.5 hours per week for regular volunteer work they do with one of the community partner organizations. Since the first day it opened, Muddy’s has had a “rocwpc” (refill our community with positive change) jar at the cash register. Nominations of recipients from friends, neighbors, employees, and organizations are taken, and, instead of taking tips, employees vote quarterly on which nonprofits will receive the change each month. Employees may participate in special benefit packages, optional job and life skill workshops,  and staff-wide gain share.

Treating people right and valuing community certainly pays off. Yummy cupcakes, sweet  smiles, satisfied employees, and happy customers all abound at much-loved Muddy’s. Memphis is fortunate to have so much lovin’ from the Muddy’s oven.