//Pamela Richard in the kitchen, a plate of tea cakes in hand. Photos provided by Richard.
Tea cakes are a cross between a cookie, scone and biscuit. They’re not as dry as a cookie or scone, nor as moist as a biscuit. They’re not overly sweet either. According to Pamela Richard, who has devoted her later career to bringing the southern treat to Denver, tea cakes are a perfect homage to childhood summers spent in Louisiana. She says almost everyone who tries one loves it.
Richard opened Miss Peabody’s Tea Cakes in 2017 after being let go from her nonprofit job combating Black infant mortality. With her newfound free time, she started binging “The Great British Baking Show.” One episode, in particular, asked participants to craft a dish inspired by their childhood.
“What did I grow up making? I put myself in those baker’s positions, and it was tea cakes,” Richard said.
As a Black female entrepreneur, Richard is inspiring other women to pursue their passions by advocating for women to support one another in business interests. Her story illuminates the importance of reviving familial traditions to serve the greater community no matter the challenges that arise.
“After being let go from my job, I realized I didn’t like the idea of people having control over my life, being able to say they could keep me or they couldn’t keep me,” she said.
Richard’s new motto became, “let’s just try this out.”
“It doesn’t have to be perfect, you just have to start,” she said. “In the process of doing, you get your perfection. But don’t let perfection keep you from starting a business.”
During the first year, the operation didn’t have a website. Now that she has one, she added a tab to her page for online ordering as soon as she had the means to do so. She didn’t have a KitchenAid mixer at first either, but she made it work until she had the funds to purchase one.
“I wasn’t perfect, but I was doing it, and that’s really important,” she said.
As a Denver native, Richard has seen the lack of Southern bakeries in the city. She worked to bring the dessert to the area as a way for customers to make their own memories with tea cakes, or to be reminded of memories they’ve had in the past.
Richard’s tea cake recipe is a salute to her grandmother, Helen, who she grew up visiting in Louisiana. While she adapted the recipe to produce five unique flavors rather than just one, the foundation is aligned with her lineage. The name Peabody was her grandmother’s nickname for her as a child, inspired by the 1959 show “Mr. Peabody and Sherman.”
Richard says her business allows her to use all the best parts of herself. She wants other women to experience it, too.
Collaboration is central to her method, which is why she created Miss Peabody’s Sweet Box, a subscription box of assorted baked goods that feature a unique female guest baker each month.
Richard admits women have a much harder time as entrepreneurs, which is why she believes it’s exceptionally important to support one another with “girl power.”
“Being an entrepreneur is hard. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but having other people, having that network, that tribe of women that I can go to, that I can say, ‘Hey, this is going to be challenging[…]’,” she said. “We need each other. We don’t often know that, but we need each other.”
Richard’s ultimate goal is for women in Denver to know they can have a baking business, or any other kind of business, and that they can do it with the support of one another.