Inspired by motherhood and her late mom’s oatmeal, CT woman opens vegan bakery in Norwalk

Photo of Joseph Tucci

Taking inspiration from the cooking of her late mother, a Connecticut mom has opened a bakery in Norwalk that aims to help other parents live longer, healthier lives. 

Stylish Spoon, which opened in Norwalk at the loading dock at 97 Water Street near The Sono Baking Company & Cafe this past September, offers a variety of healthy sweets including its signature baked oatmeal, grain-free chocolate donuts, trail-mix cookies, wafers, granola bars and cookie-dough bites. All the products are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and vegan and some are made with ingredients like cinnamon, Jalapeños, bananas, blueberries, chia seeds and oats. 

Sweets for sale at Stylish Spoon in Norwalk.

Sweets for sale at Stylish Spoon in Norwalk.

Joseph Tucci / Hearst CT Media

"What makes us special isn't just what we don't put in our products, it's what we do put in our products. There are a lot of gluten-free baked goods out there, there are a lot of vegan baked goods out there but a lot of them are made with a lot of sugar and refined carbohydrates," Founder Ilana Eck said.

Eck started baking the oatmeal cups around seven years ago when she was a new breastfeeding mother struggling to find something healthy to eat that would provide nutrients to her child. Taking inspiration from the baked oatmeal cups Eck's late mother used to make her, she ended up creating what would be Stylish Spoon's signature product. 

"When I was breastfeeding I couldn't eat gluten, dairy or soy and a whole host of other things. And I was like, 'What can I eat with one hand, while holding a baby, to get nutrients in and feed myself.,'" Eck said. "So I started making them in cupcake tins in big batches and I froze them and every morning I would heat them up in the microwave. They brought the joy back into eating for me."

Stylish spoon founder Ilana Eck.

Stylish spoon founder Ilana Eck.

Ilana Eck / contributed

When Eck was nine years old, her mother passed away from breast cancer at the age of 46. Because of her mother's early death, Eck has had the desire to be around for her children as long as possible and said that eating healthy is part of that. 

"I feel like she's there with me when I'm baking. Especially when I started making the baked oatmeal cups at night, when the kids were asleep in the other room, I had this banana masher that my mom used to use. I have a lot of her kitchen tools still," Eck said in a YouTube video.

Eck said that eating the oatmeal cups made her feel better physically and helped her milk output when breastfeeding. Aiming to help other new moms, she shared the sweets with friends who then encouraged her to sell them. She listed the cookies on a Facebook mother's group. She previously worked as both a part-time baker and full-time attorney before committing to following her passion and baking full-time. 

"If I'm leaving my kids every day, I want to leave them for something that I care about," Eck said. "I decided to take the leap and really grow the business." 

Eck originally had a kitchen in Harlem, N.Y., before moving to Connecticut during the pandemic and setting up the Norwalk location. The bakery also offers a three and six-month online subscription service that delivers the oatmeal cups directly to customers' doorsteps and offers a 5 percent discount. The bakery will offer its products through DoorDash and Uber Eats within the coming months, according to Eck. 

Aside from the Norwalk storefront, the bakery's products are offered at local businesses, including The Granola Bar, Westport Playhouse, Affogato and Candlewood Market. The products are also offered at the seasonal Westport Farmers Market and New Canaan Farmers Market

During the first two weeks of February, those who visit the bakery can receive a free oatmeal cup with no purchase necessary.