“We get flowers delivered. Why not a cake?” mused Rigdzin Drolma, the proprietor of Me3 Bakery, an online business providing gourmet, elaborately decorated cakes to Woodstock and the surrounding region. She offers both custom-made creations and an array of standard styles such as Confetti Ganache, the cactus-themed Succulent Maple Walnut, Vegan Sunflower, and others.
Drolma’s formative years included time spent in the kitchen at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra (KTD) Monastery at the top of Meads Mountain Road, enjoying the bustle of people cooking and baking for retreats of 100 people or more. She is the daughter of Tibetan-born Bardor Tulku Rinpoche, who helped establish KTD, where he taught for years before founding the Kunzang Palchen Ling center in Red Hook.
When asked if her baking is influenced by Buddhism, Drolma smiled. “No matter what craft you have, if you’re doing it sincerely, focusing your whole energy on it, it becomes a meditative experience. If I’m up for five hours, focusing on a buttercream cake, piping flowers, there’s a bit of a trance happening. Sometimes if I’m feeling sad or angry, I’ll go bake a cake and feel better from the hours of mixing and piping in silence.”
Drolma attended Woodstock Elementary School and graduated from Onteora High School in 2011. She spent the past two years teaching English at a private academy in Korea. “It was fun but intense,” she said. “I missed home. I came back thinking about what to do for work.” She loves baking but didn’t have the funds to set up a brick-and-mortar shop. When she told family and friends about her idea to start an online bakery, she received particular encouragement from Janice Hardgrove-Kollar of Peace, Love, and Cupcakes, the tiny but successful Tinker Street shop.
It took nerve for Drolma to put herself out as a businesswoman. Peers from high school are on the police force, doing construction, or working for other companies. “I don’t see many people my age starting their own business,” she said. “It made me feel I shouldn’t or couldn’t do it. But I decided to go for it.”
Two friends in graphic design gave her advice on making a website and promoting the business on social media. Soon after her April 2019 launch, she met a member of the Woodstock Rescue Squad, which was preparing to have its annual dinner. Drolma suggested desserts from Me3, and she had her first event order.
There are other websites offering cakes, but they are generally extensions of existing storefronts. Me3 appears to be the only local online bakery. The name, a familiar pun on “Me, too!”, relates to Drolma’s position as the youngest of three sisters.
Her repertoire includes vegan and gluten-free cakes, but her specialty is buttercream, not only for the flavor but for “the texture and what you can pipe with it.” Most of her creations are crowned with elegant, startlingly realistic buttercream flowers. All the cakes are made to order and hand-delivered, with free delivery offered within a 15-mile radius, with a charge for longer distances.
Customers may choose flavor and decoration from existing styles or request a theme. For a recent event at the Red Hook monastery, Drolma made lotus cupcakes, since the lotus is a Buddhist symbol for compassion. A two-tiered cake was topped with a relic common to Tibetan shrines, modeled in fondant. She looks forward to doing weddings. “I would love to sit down with people and see their inspiration for an event,” Drolma said, “including invitations, gowns, flowers, so I can make something in line with the look they’re going for.”
She also finds staging an unexpected creative outlet. Drawing from her collection of cloths, marble slabs, teacups, and knickknacks from antique or craft shops, she designs an ensemble to visually set off each cake, both in person and on her website. “I had to learn what it means to take proper photos,” she said. “I’m confident I can make a wonderful cake, but I’d also better make it look good.”
From learning to make a website to handing out business cards, she’s had a lot of new experiences. “It’s been a new identity to take on, representing myself, promoting my business. I’m happy to be doing what I want to do.”
Me3 Bakery will be participating in the 2019 Woodstock Rosé Crawl, a free rosé-tasting event to be held once a month throughout this summer. The first one is on Saturday, June 8, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., when Drolma will be at The Colony on Rock City Road, Woodstock, handing out cake bites and treats in line with their “Pretty In Pink” theme.