Dylah Ray would likely say that baking is an excellent antidote to the stresses of life. The owner of The Botanical Bakery of Denver has created a floral wonderland as part of her mission is to offer a community gathering space where everyone is welcome to share in the joy of baking, botanicals and creative expression.
Nestled among the houseplant paradise of neighboring garden boutique Birdsall & Co., The Botanical Bakery of Denver provides botanically themed baked goods, Denver-roasted coffee and The Botanical Collective – a shop of curated merchandise from local artists, focused on female makers.
Ray came from a much different, harsher work life than the one she inhabits now. With time spent in the corporate world, the United Nations and on political campaigns (including working on the presidential campaign for Elizabeth Warren in 2020), her love of baking has always been one of the things that kept her happy.
“During the pandemic, I had two main pastimes: baking and gardening. Then I started blending the two,” she says.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with her work with the Warren campaign over and most of her time spent at home taking care of her infant daughter, Ray wanted more from her next career path. She sought to bring her creative outlets to a new venture that would be her own.
She began selling her treats at pop-ups and holiday markets throughout the city before collaborating with her best friend, who owned Birdsall & Co. and had an opening in the location. The two businesses came together perfectly in September of 2022. Although the aesthetic brings in many customers, the food keeps them coming back.
“It’s equally important for me for it to taste good and look good,” Ray says about her baked goods.
Many items are baked in-house, all of which feature a strong floral or botanical element. They include the aforementioned signature pansy cookies and Linzer cookies, as well as seasonal tarts and mini pies. The bakery also hosts other local bakers who typically don’t have storefronts. Rebel Bread supplies the bakery with ciabatta and sourdough, Pandemic Donuts provides its donuts as well as breakfast sandwiches and Bonfire Burritos contributes its breakfast burritos.
Ray discusses how her bakery has changed drastically in the six months since it opened. The business grew fast, which creates challenges. It’s a good problem to have, but still a problem when it comes to scaling up.
The demand has been high for what The Botanical Bakery of Denver offers. At the start of May, the bakery began its wholesale program, partnering with local coffee shops, bars, florists and other businesses to supply them with its lavender shortbread pansy cookies. Additionally, online ordering has allowed the business to reach even more customers.
Community is also integral to the bakery’s identity. It hosts a variety of events, from cookie decorating classes to floral arrangement workshops to open mic nights. The bakery prides itself on being a welcoming environment where people can not only show their talents, but meet others and enjoy the social aspects of a public space.