Ashley D’Acunto, the co-owner of Phat Ash Bakes, says she has always enjoyed baking for fun — feeding her husband, Israel Erazo, and her co-workers — but when the pandemic hit she suddenly found herself with more time on her hands.
“I was working at Lululemon in Winter Park and the store closed for COVID. And it gave me time to, you know, actually make a website and focus,” D’Acunto said “And then it just really took off you everyone was on their phone. Everyone was quarantined, spending time on social media and Instagram, scrolling and so it really just worked out for us in that sense.”
D’Acunto actually credits her coworkers at Lululemon for pushing her toward starting the business with her husband. One worker in particular really gave her the nudge she needed.
“Maddie is my friend from Lululemon who set up my first bake sale, she made me my first Phat Ash shirt, she named business. I mean this girl is incredible just because she’s a good person,” D’Acunto said. “She was like, ‘I know you like to bake. You should really just make a company called Phat Ash Bakes.’ And I was like, ‘Oh my God, you’re right. I’m not even gonna change it. It’s perfect.’”
That bake sale was D’Acunto’s first foray into cookie sales, but when the pandemic shut down much of the country, Phat Ash shifted to Instagram.
“People would slide into our DMS, place an order with us and we would meet them in the Target parking lot next to our house,” D’Acunto said. “And then we were like, ‘OK, this kind of looks a little shady. And maybe we should have a real location, instead of meeting in this parking lot and handing a brown bag over to these strangers.’ And so then we had a pickup location, we made it more official.”
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Her social media success continued to swell. Now, with more than 17,000 Instagram followers, Phat Ash has moved into Orlando’s Trendy Mills 50 District. The business shares the space at 912 N. Mills with Grilled Cheezus.
“We are located in the back of the building. So, kind of, like you could pull up into our discreet location,” D’Acunto said. “There isn’t a lot of signage, which is intentional and so it’s like you feel like ‘Yes, I found it.’”
D’Acunto said she already has more than 200 flavors for her cookies which get rotated in and out weekly and seasonally. There is one flavor that is always offered, the chocolate chip cookie.
“One, you can’t go wrong with chocolate chip,” she said. “Two, I think you can always base how good cookies are from someone off their chocolate chip, because if they make a good chocolate chip, then I have faith that the rest will be good too. And the last reason is we do a lot of charity and community work. We donate $1 of every chocolate chip cookie that we sell at the end of the month to a different charity.”
In the latest episode of Florida Foodie, D’Acunto talks about how her business has grown and where the inspiration for her cookies comes from.
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Florida Foodie is a bi-weekly podcast from WKMG and Graham Media that takes a closer look at what we eat, how we eat it and the impact that has on us here in Florida and for everyone, everywhere. Find new episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you download your favorite podcasts.