Justin Livingston, the owner and creative spirit behind Scratch Bakery by Justin Tyler in Tipp City, has worked hard to curate a sweet existence in his hometown.
For nearly two years, Livingston has set up shop in the former location of Sweet by Kristy, a once-popular cupcake and sweets shop. Formerly, Livingston co-owned Moore Dessert Please, a project that he took up at the young age of 21.
Along with his employees, Amy Powell, lead baker, assistant decorator; Courtney Herbert, lead decorator, baker; Ally Sasser, sugar specialist; and Megan Jones, sugar specialist, Livingston has successfully created a cult sweet spot in Tipp City.
In his own words, Livingston shares how his love of baking fueled his entrepreneurial spirit and community outreach.
You've enjoyed so much success in the year and a half that Scratch Bakery has been open. What did it feel like when you were given the Spark Award by the Better Business Bureau?
It didn't feel real. It was such an incredible honor that left me rather speechless. To be honored as a young entrepreneur and just doing what you love is pretty amazing.
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Before you owned two successful businesses, did your life revolve around baking? Is there a single moment in your life that inspired you to get into baking?
I've been in the baking business for 10 years now. For the last seven years, it's been quite the whirlwind. The three other years I baked from home with my home business, DELISH by Justin. I don't remember a time where I wasn't baking. I've always been inspired by fun candy shops and bakeries. When the cupcake "craze" hit almost a decade ago, I really fell in love with it. I knew this is what I wanted to do. Some credit goes to Kristy Reis, who owned Sweet by Kristy in Tipp City (the same location I'm in). Sweet was the first bakery I worked in and the inspiration meter went to another level then.
What was it like becoming a co-owner of Moore Dessert Please at only 21 years old? Many other people that age would not have had the courage to invest in a business.
It was amazing. I never thought I'd own a business at 21 years old. I was waiting for someone to pinch me and wake me up. I knew this is really what I wanted so taking the huge risk just seemed natural to me. I tell people that and they're shocked. But, it all felt right —all of it. Moore Dessert Please will always hold a special place in my heart. A lot of great things came from it.
Why did you decide to open Scratch Bakery in Tipp City? What do you think is so special about the community in Tipp City? How has that informed your business practices?
I'm from Tipp City, first of all, and it's a real dream to be here — especially on Main Street and in a historic building. So, there was not even a second thought into opening Scratch here. When the opportunity arose, I said “yes” and wasn't going to take no for an answer from anyone. I really wanted it. The space I'm in used to house the first bakery I worked in, so it's really like a magical homecoming. Not to mention the building also used to house my favorite childhood toy store, Cairns Collectibles. I worked there too in high school. The community in Tipp City is a very special place. We're a small town filled with such incredible things. An amazing downtown, schools, community involvement, growth and safety. I could go on and on. Tipp City rocks!
What does a typical day at the shop have in store for you?
I arrive pretty early in the morning to begin baking for the day. Since we bake everything fresh, it's quite the process to get the store ready each day. Once the store is ready and open for the day, I then shift gears and begin working on our custom orders that might be going out that day. We do a lot of custom cakes and cookies, so I'm always creating. I work about 10-11 hours per day, 6 days per week. I love being in the shop and seeing new and familiar faces. Some days I will add in my downtown board meetings and committee meetings. Every day is busy, but it's all a dream.
What are your favorite places to eat and drink in Tipp City and Dayton?
We have so many amazing restaurants in Tipp City, so it's so hard to choose. I always enjoy Harrison's and Greenfire Bistro. But, when I need breakfast or some comfort food, I head to Sam and Ethel's. In Dayton, I love Old Scratch Pizza, Lucky's Taproom and Thai 9.
Out of all the sweet treats that you offer at your bakery, what is your personal favorite?
This question is always tough. I love our snickerdoodle cupcakes and signature vanilla bean cake swirled with cinnamon sugar, iced with cream cheese with a dusting of more cinnamon sugar. But, I snack and love all of the things we offer. It's really so hard to choose.
What is the craziest concoction that you have crafted and sold at the shop?
I would say our edible cookie dough. I was the first in Dayton back in the day to offer it in a retail bakery. I questioned the whole concept, wondering if anyone would buy the cookie dough. It quickly became one of our biggest sellers and to this day people still love it and the fun flavors we offer. Next up would be our signature ice cream cupcakes. Both are so fun and yummy.
What inspires you about Dayton?
Dayton is a great place to be. The energy downtown has changed so much over the course of the last few years and it makes me so happy to see what the future holds for the entire city. Big things for sure.
What do you see in Dayton's future and in the future of your bakery?
I see more revitalization in Dayton. There is already so much good happening in Dayton that I see that trend continuing upwards. As for the bakery, we're going to keep on keepin' on. We're going to keep adding new products and working toward making the world a little sweeter through our shop and our community outreach. Scratch will be here for many, many years to come.