In 2009, in a desperate attempt to prevent foreclosure on her Teaneck home, Angela Logan set a goal to bake and sell 100 cakes in 10 days at $40 each with the hope of raising enough funds to sustain her mortgage payment. Along the way, the then single mother of three very supportive sons not only lifted herself out of debt and saved her home, but also ended up launching a successful business to boot.
“Pride was the obstacle I had to overcome,” said Logan, the former actress who was buried in bills after her talent agency had closed its doors without paying her what she was owed. “My face had been on TV shows as well as numerous commercial print and TV ads, but I was in danger of losing my home and so swallowing my pride, I released myself from whatever shame that could come in my life.”
Humbled, yet determined, Logan prayed for a blessing and set out a five-year plan that included going back to school, making ends meet by working as a hairstylist while studying nursing and selling her home baked cakes. That blessing did come, albeit via an unexpected source – a special recipe for apple cake.
“My grandmother was a tough frontier woman. Survival was her way of life,” explained Logan. “They called her Duce, because she ran a mean card game. That was part of survival too. She could cook, can foods, knit, fix her own electrical wires, skin a pig and make everything from soap to chitterlings. Grandmother’s cakes were the best: Lemon pound cake infused with fresh lemon and covered in fresh lemon glaze and yellow cake so rich and aromatic that one could eat the batter alone. There were pies, too, made with fruit from her garden. It was in her kitchen, as early as age 5, that I learned how to bake.”
Harking back to those roots, Logan said: “There is an underground world no matter where you live – like Atlanta, Ga., where I grew up, or New York City, where I lived while acting – where people go to find the best homemade cakes. It’s not the grocery store because they are made from scratch and have a richness, taste and aroma that you cannot find there. Neighborhood people know where to look for the cake lady. She lives by her reputation – great cakes and strongly influences entrepreneurism.”
Inspired by that legacy, Logan looked to her own passion for baking and the idea to sell her family’s famously moist apple cakes took shape.
Establishing the 10-day challenge was the easy part, following through on it and making sales… well, that was another story. Undaunted, Logan wrote down and practiced what she would say to potential supporters, including everyone she knew. However, she recalls somewhat painfully, “When it came time to ask people to buy my cakes to save my home, the words stuck in my throat. First I sent out emails, which were more impersonal. Next, I called key friends and read what I had written. They were happy to help.”
Eventually, easing into confidence, she decided to try her pitch out on fellow classmates at Burlington Community College.
“We were preparing for final exams,” she explains. “I remember several pausing moments wherein I would begin to stand up and then not stand up to ask. Finally, in the anatomy and physiology lab, among all the plastic cadavers, parts of hearts and blood type samples, I stood up and repeated my script. The room stood still like the extra-terrestrials in the movie ET when the mother ship was communicating with the aliens. Then a voice said, ‘I’ll buy a cake,’ followed by several others. They gave me money right on the spot, and I was baking day and night.”
From that humble beginning, Mortgage Apple Cakes (MAC) was born. The rest is cake-lady history. As serendipity would have it, news outlets around the country picked up Logan’s story, with coverage from the likes of CNN, Fox News, The Today Show, MSNBC and Oprah. It even went global thanks to a TV movie, “Apple Mortgage Cake,” starring Kimberly Elise, which is available on Amazon Prime. Within a matter of days, her cakes were selling like hot cakes and garnering rave reviews. Logan reached her goal and saved her home. Empowered, she began expanding by creating a complete line of natural moist delicious cakes made with fresh apples as her reputation and return customers continued to grow.
“My signature cake made with cream cheese frosting, whole wheat flour and organic sugars and spice was even catered at the 2014 Super Bowl,” she said with pride.
Moving forward, the company celebrates ten years in business in 2019.
“It is a long time for what some call our 15 minutes of fame,” said Logan, who admits her venture has been one of the greatest struggles and adventures of her life.
A labor of love and appreciation, too, as Logan is joined by her husband Melvin George II whom she credits with helping to keep the business side of things running smoothly while she dreams up more delicious specialties.
“Right now I have four main apple cakes: original, apple rum upside down cake, apple pound cake with Ghirardelli white chocolate and caramel apple cake,” she said. “The realization that people came out to help by buying my original cake is why we work hard to keep the brand alive.”
Alive, yes… and thriving! MAC recently signed a contract with Goldbely, a curated online marketplace for regional and artisanal foods crafted by local food purveyors throughout the United States. Logan has also aligned with QVC agents and is working out details on a new facility to meet demand.
Looking back on her path from survival to success, Logan offers some sage advice: “Let go and let God. Sometimes when life creates stressful situations, take yourself to a place where there is no fear, no anger, no embarrassment. Ask yourself, ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ When you commit to that ‘worst that could happen place’ and you still have your life, health and strength, you will be free. That’s where you start your survival plan.”
Finally, summing up, she added, “I went into business to save a brand, Mortgage Apple Cakes, which was created overnight when my story made national news. I had, in my hand, a gift that would have cost millions of dollars. I had to learn how to be a businesswoman on the run to save a business that was handed to me by caring and concerned citizens who bought my cakes and the news media who reported on my story. I did not become famous acting; however, I was shopping for ingredients in a major store one day when someone called out, ‘Cake Lady.’ That’s when I felt I had arrived.”
For more information on Mortgage Apple Cakes or to purchase a cake, visit www.maccakes.com. Mortgage Apple Cakes Bakery Café is located at 740 Chestnut Ave. in Teaneck.
By Louise B. Hafesh
Louise B. Hafesh is an award-winning artist and journalist and president of AdVantage Publications, Inc., an international editorial syndicate. She lives in Bergen County with her daughter and husband, and can be reached at www.louisebhafesh.com.