Rachel Baas slowly backs up her newly renovated 1968 Shasta Compact Camper into the driveway of the historic Belknap home in Heritage Hill. Tufts of orange and yellow hair peek out of the window. “Is this good?” she calls out, swiftly shifting into park.
As Rachel begins her set up, she begins sharing her journey of renovating the camper with her family. Bringing out her phone to show before and after pictures. It took her months of scouring Facebook Marketplace for the perfect trailer; when finally, this iconic and adorable camper caught her eye. “We fixed the damaged roof, walls, refreshed the interior, added a wooden service window, and topped it off with a new paint job,” explains Rachel. She even kept in touch with the previous owner to show them the upgrades and renovations. They loved it.
At only 12 ft long, so it’s perfect to set up shop at farmer’s markets, graduations, weddings, and any other gathering. She carefully hangs her menu and begins setting up her cake pops and custom cookies. For boomers, it’s nostalgic, a reminder of their childhood camping trips with their families. For millennials and gen z, it’s an instant ‘aww, it’s so cute!’ A perfect custom dessert bar with a vintage, chic feel.
You can tell she puts a great deal of effort and pride into her work. Rachel started baking as a hobby, making treats for friends and family. Later she pursued a degree in Culinary Arts with a Baking and Pastry focus. In 2019, Chef Rachel graduated from Secchia Institute of Culinary Education and later in 2020 graduated from Ferris State University with a degree in Hospitality Management. She started Equinox Pastries and Pops LLC while still in school.
WomanUp & Pitch Competition
In 2022 she began her journey with Michigan Women Forward’s WomanUp & Pitch Competition. This pitch competition is a funding opportunity for women who wish to start or grow an existing for-profit business. Rachel participated in the Statewide Food Competition in the established business category.
The top forty finalists are connected to advisors, coaches and mentors who provide professional services and expert advice as the women create viable business plans and prepare to take the stage to pitch their idea to a panel of business experts. The business plans, reviewed in advance of the pitch by each judge, account for 60% of the final score; the pitch accounts for 40%. Businesses must be at least 51% women owned.
Rachel came out of it earning 3rd Place and $2,500 toward her business at the Statewide Food Competition this past March. While she admits the monetary winnings are great, it was in fact the business plan preparation and being paired with an experienced coach that was most impactful. Crafting a 10-page business plan was both challenging and rewarding. Rachel admits that it was daunting task made easier with the help from Michigan Women Forward.
So how is she spending her winnings? Quite frankly she’s not. Instead, she’s saving for an even bigger dream. Chef Rachel’s goal is to have a brick-and-mortar bakery south of Grand Rapids. She feels much closer to her goal than ever before and knows it’s just around the corner.
Support Rachel’s Dream
To support Rachel, visit her Treat Trailer at the University Health West Hospital (previously Metro Health) Farmer’s Market every Thursday from 9AM to 2PM at 5900 Byron Center Ave, Wyoming, MI 49519 and at other small artisan markets around West Michigan! For specialty and custom-made desserts, check out her Instagram @equinoxpastriesandpops and website equinoxpastriesandpops.com.