Home Culture The North Jersey Resident Behind Luxury Gingerbread Company ‘Edible Estates’

The North Jersey Resident Behind Luxury Gingerbread Company ‘Edible Estates’

by Danielle Farina
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Many (if not all of us) have, at some point, taken a go at decorating a gingerbread house. With the tablecloth down, pastry bags at the ready, and an unusual amount of gumdrops and/or mints, we channel our inner architects to construct the living quarters of every gingerbread person’s dreams. Of course, this holiday activity is rarely easy, and the final product is usually defined by rogue drops of frosting barely keeping the haphazard pieces of candy “holiday lights” in place. Unless you’re Molli Dowd, the local North Jersey baker behind Edible Estates.

After years of gingerbread making and studying architecture in college, Molli stepped into the gingerbread business to turn the holiday activity on its head. Her luxury gingerbread company Edible Estates draws on her love of baking and designing to create realistic, detailed, and edible gingerbread structures. Molli and her brand have an impressive roster of structures: she’s created gingerbread renditions of The Empire State Building, The Chrysler Building, and a BVLGARI building, to name a few. On top of all that, Molli made an appearance on the Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship, an experience she describes as “gleefully exhausting.”

Now, Molli and Edible Estates plan to open the first retail location that will double as a bakery studio and cafe. The Montclair Girl spoke with Molli to talk about all things baking, gingerbread, and North Jersey. Read on for our interview with Molli Dowd, North Jersey baker and founder of Edible Estates. 

(Photo Credit: Edible Estates)

Montclair Girl: Where are you originally from if not from Montclair/North Jersey and why did you choose to move here?

Molli Dowd: I am originally from Arizona, but attended Graduate school at NYU in Manhattan (where I studied film and theater production) and where I met my husband who is from Montclair.

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MG: Tell us about your business — its mission, service, and products.

MD: We are a female-founded luxury Gingerbread company, specializing in beautiful products and creatively fulfilling experiences. We are committed to the highest quality and design standards. With our easy-to-decorate kits and custom architecture, we have created a new standard for the traditional gingerbread house. Amazingly beautiful with none of the hassle!

(Photo Credit: Edible Estates)

We offer Gingerbread Houses (custom and seasonal), Gingerbread and other delicious flavored Cookie Kits (custom and season), Sugar Detail Decorating Kits, Private Parties, and Custom Edible Architecture.

MG: What about North Jersey made you want to invest in the area by opening your business there/establishing your brand here?

MD: North Jersey has it all! People in this area are from all over the world and the proximity to the city keeps everything interesting and exciting. Consumers in this area are discerning and have a great appreciation for quality.

MG: What is your favorite aspect of living and working in the North Jersey area?

MD: North Jersey is so diverse with amazing and beautiful vegetation and incredible architectural history that is inspiring to me.

(Photo Credit: Edible Estates)

MG: What inspired you to get into the gingerbread-making business? What were your first experiences with it?

MD: My foray into gingerbread started exactly the way you might expect – an activity that I did with my mom and two sisters as a young child for the holidays. My mom and grandmother were amazing bakers that inspired me to be creative. I’d originally gone to college to study architecture and even though I ended up with a liberal arts degree, there was something about constructing houses that had always called to me. My gingerbread houses became one of the places I’d play around with my architecture training. It was a fun and creative outlet, and when I became a mother it developed into a bonding family tradition, and we made some incredible, edible houses. Gingerbread Houses feel magical and full of hope. And making them leaves people feeling creative and cheerful. I’ve been so grateful to be able to offer others the opportunity to create a gift that’s made with love. It is truly one of the greatest feelings in the world.

MG: What would you say makes your business special?

MD: I refer to it often as ‘Happiness in a Box’ ….because everything we do and create is special, unique and customized. There is no other company like ours on the market. My passion for architecture, coupled with a degree in landscape architecture allows me to create gingerbread dream houses with an acute knowledge of overall design and scale that is unmatched.

(Photo Credit: Edible Estates)

MG: What’s something about you or your business that people might be surprised to learn about?

MD: I am an avid traveler and adventure and architecture enthusiast. My first skydive trip with the incredible architectural backdrop of Dubai was so impactful that I now want to start an all-female skydiving group! To help encourage us all to be brave and overcome our fears. 

Our gingerbread houses are entirely edible with no artificial supports, and are made with the finest ingredients including special honey candies that create that special warm glow for the windows…..and the houses light up!  There is interior illumination that most people miss because the house itself is so beautiful. It’s like icing on the cake AND a cherry on top!

MG: Can you tell us more about your custom gingerbread architecture? What was the most difficult design you ever made?

MD: Have a special event or just want a show-stopping centerpiece? We can recreate any real-life architecture into a miniature edible version! With just a photograph we can produce a custom gingerbread masterpiece that is an architectural replica of your building.

(Photo Credit: Edible Estates)

The most difficult custom piece was the Chrysler building I made for the Food Network Gingerbread Showdown. The objective was to have the entire 36” structure support itself with gingerbread only. I had to create an intricate puzzle pattern to alternate seams to increase stability. It was a complete edible engineering feature with over 200 windows!

MG: Tell us about your time on The Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship. What was that experience like? How did it change your business?

MD: The experience was incredibly fun and gleefully exhausting! I look back and laugh about all the craziness. None of us were given much time to design, create, and or build so it was a bit challenging to be creative “on the fly” and without much sleep. I met some amazing bakers and friends for life and learned the skill of how to ignore a camera 10 inches from my face while trying to concentrate on building a massive edible puzzle!

The stories I have, the exposure, and the experience were all incredible. I get asked all the time about what it was like ….and am now inspired to create a new Edible Estates in-house event space so we can have customers come in for creative workshops or fun competitions, kind of like a mini personal group version of the Food Network showdown. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

MG: Aside from gingerbread, what’s your favorite thing to bake?

MD: I have this amazing berry pie that I love to make, especially around Thanksgiving. It is actually a personal recipe that I have tweaked and enhanced over the years with not only different types of berries but peaches and a hint of sweetened creme fraiche/cream cheese combo with a ‘to die for’ crumble topping that is my absolute favorite. Yummmm. 

MG: Who or what is your biggest source of inspiration?

MD: My two daughters are truly my best friends and my biggest source of inspiration. Their strength and happy energy have been fuel for me to chase my own dreams and potential to be the best person and mom I can be.

(Photo Credit: Edible Estates)

MG: Are there any other local business owners or leaders you admire?

MD: Bobbi Brown has always been an inspiration for me and a local neighbor, as well as Rachel Wyman of Rabel Rise who I previously rented space from before venturing out on my own, and Amy South of Moss + More. All fabulous local female entrepreneurs.

MG: What are your goals for this year?

MD: Building and bettering the brand is always the first goal, and of course designing and finishing up the new retail space to continue to provide great products for our e-commerce customers but also provide unique in-house experiences and workshops.

MG: What does a typical day look like for you?

MD: I wake up around 6:30-7:00AM and check my Oura ring (for my sleep score!), drink a lot of water, eat a good breakfast, and then head to the gym or yoga for at least an hour. Then I have my favorite match latte and answer emails, paperwork, and phone calls.

Then it’s off to the shop to check on deliveries and new orders. After that… every day is different depending on the season.  We are always baking!  But we are either in product development mode for another season testing out new ideas and designing new products and creating sample prototypes… or in production mode baking and creating the products and working on system efficiencies. Layered of course with communicating with my social media manager and analyzing our marketing goals, and trying to keep up with content every step of the way!  Time for family, friends, self-care, and the three dogs are always in the mix too!

(Photo Credit: Edible Estates)

MG: What has been the highlight of your career/life so far?

MD: Creating this business and finally stepping out of my comfort zone to work full time with my passion.

See More: Where to Get a Cappuccino in Hudson County

MG: What are some of your favorite local businesses?

MD: ERIC hair salon and Alchemy Scent Bar.

MG: What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own business?

MD: I have a couple of quotes I like: 

  • “Your time is limited so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” – Steve Jobs
  • “You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.” – Oprah Winfrey
  • “If it scares you then it’s a sign you need to do it.”
  • “An important attribute of success is to be yourself, never hide what makes you you.”

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