Noi Reagan doesn’t even like sweets. There are people who drive more than 20 miles to pick up one of Noi Gifts & Gourmet’s decorative cakes or to buy a batch of morning glory muffins, but she says she never eats the creations herself.
It may seem odd for a woman who makes her living baking decadent desserts and gourmet cookies, but the owner says it’s the magic of mixing, beating, and blending that she’s fallen in love with—not the sugar.
“This is an escape for me,” she said. “It’s become my passion. I get to bring happiness to people through my baking.”
The smell of the store’s fresh-baked red velvet cupcakes and chocolate confections have been wafting from 1210 West Main Street since 2010, but Noi has been providing treats since she was a student at Middle Tennessee State University. Raised in Thailand, Noi earned her degree in master computer information systems from the school. At the beginning, she had trouble breaking the communications barrier with her peers. She says her baking skills helped fix that problem.
“I began bringing treats for people in school. Then I became recognized as the girl who could bake!” she said. “I was new to the country, and I noticed people loved what I made.”
All of Noi’s techniques are self-taught, and many of her recipes are the result of long hours and several attempts.
“I love experimenting,” she says. “Right now, I’m working on a carrot cake jam. It’s our best selling cupcake, and I think it’s going to turn out delicious.”
The owner says though she never thought she’d open her own bakery—she planned to return to Thailand, but that was before she married a Middle Tennessee man—it was a natural step after seeing how much people enjoyed her creations. Her specialty, it seems, is decorating. Currently, she’s working on Easter bonnet cookies and holiday-themed cake bites.
“It’s become an adventure each time, and I get to stretch my imagination,” she says.
The gingerbread-looking bakery has a personality as energetic as the baker’s: brightly colored rocking chairs and picnic tables welcome visitors to stay a while, and the store’s waiting area is a combination of nostalgic pieces and vintage furniture. It’s filled with whimsical décor and confectionary treats: counters are stacked with turtle stixs and dunked s’mores, the glass cake stands contain the likes of apple pie and coconut crème cupcakes, and the old-fashioned cookie jars are ever-rotating with gourmet goodies.
“Sometimes I look at these things, and it surprises me that I did all of it,” she says. “This is a joy for me to do.”
Noi offers everything from extravagant wedding and celebratory cakes to rich petit fours and snicker doodle cookies. All of it is made from scratch, and she says she makes sure to use the highest-quality products.
“We have a lot for sale in the bakery,” she says. “But when people order something, we make sure it’s highly personalized.”
Noi’s been in business since 2002, but says she’s enjoyed the community aspect of the area since moving the bakery to Downtown Franklin. Just last Sunday, she hosted an Easter Egg hunt at the store for local children. Instead of hiding candy in the eggs—she says she gets sick of finding those wrappers littered around her house — she inserted coupons for homemade treats. The event was free, but Noi asked that each child bring canned food to donate to the Nashville Rescue Mission.
“Just something to give back,” she says. “I’ll spend days of work and preparation, but the smile of the person who receives it is worth it.”
For more information, visit www.noigiftsandgourmet.com.