We would like to extend our warmest welcome to our newest producer, Katherine Frankstone of Grey Ghost Bakery! Katherine has always loved baking since she was a kid, especially at her family beach house in Pawlie’s Island, SC. There, her family and friends would enjoy homemade cookies and share popular ghost tales of the Carolina Lowcountry. One of her favorite stories was the one of Grey Man, the resident ghost of Pawlie’s Island, who inspired the name of her cookie company. Check out her interview with myPanier!
How did Grey Ghost start?
Five years ago, when the oldest of my three sons left for college, my empty nest was taunting me. I decided to preoccupy myself by launching a company making cookies from scratch. I’ve always enjoyed baking cookies since I was little. My grandparents were entrepreneurs so they inspired me to pursue my own business too.
So I heard when you were 5, you asked your parents for an Easy Bake Oven.
They ended up teaching you to bake with a kitchen oven instead. What inspired you to want to want an Easy Bake Oven in the first place?
My little best friend had one and I had to get it too! I thought it was cool how the cookies would travel through the conveyor belt and come out ready on the other end. My parents thought that since I had an interest in baking, I should learn using a real oven instead of a toy one. My dad baked more than my mom, so he was the one who taught me how to bake. Some of My favorite past times were making cookies with him on Christmas and Sunday afternoons. I also picked up a lot of math skills growing up through baking measurements.
How long have you been baking cookies and what do you love most about it?
I’ve been baking cookies for about 50 years now. I love mixing ingredients together and sharing cookies with friends and family because it always makes people smile.
What do you think makes cookies made from scratch different from all the other cookies out there in the market?
You can’t beat the flavor of fresh cookies that’s made with premium butter, sugar, flour and fresh eggs. Most of the commercially available cookies on the market are not made with ingredients that are as high quality as what we use and it really makes a difference.
What made you decide to get into the cookie baking business after working in corporate lending and investments for some time?
In college, I thought about going to pastry school and even worked for a pastry chef for a brief period. I realized if I ever got into the food business, I would want to own it instead of working my way up. So I studied business and worked in banking for a while. Even when I was working in corporate lending and investments, baking cookies was still a constant in my life. I intended to open up a cookie company in my 20s and I just decided to give my idea another go.
Has your family been involved with your cookie baking business?
My youngest son worked with us for a while. Growing up, he was the son who spent more time than the other two baking with me. My recipes for baking cookies have been passed down for three generations from my father’s family, who also loves to bake.
How did spending summer days baking and sharing ghost tales with friends and family inspire you to name your company Grey Ghost?
There’s an island on the coast of South Carolina called Pawley’s Island and I spent summers at our family home there. Pawley’s Island is only 1/2 mile wide and 3 miles long and is very low-key and laid-back. It’s one of my favorite places on earth. The friendly ghost who lives at Pawlie’s is named the Grey Man, which is where our name comes from. The recipes that we have are handed down to us just like the ghost stories our grandparents would tell us on the porch of our beach house.
What exactly is the legend of Grey Man?
Grey Man is the resident ghost of Pawlie’s Island who comes to warn you of storms. Legend has it that he was on his way to visit his fiancee, but he got into an accident. His horse suddenly threw him off into quicksand and he died. His fiancée was heartbroken and devastated. She was walking along the beach one day and saw a shadowy figure that looked like her fiancé. When she approached the figure, it disappeared. When she went to sleep later that night, she had a dream that Grey Man told her to leave the island because a hurricane was its way. She and her family packed up and left the next day. During the storm, many houses on the island were destroyed except her family’s.
Out of all the ghost stories you’ve heard, why did you decide to go with Grey Ghost ?
People believe that when you see the Grey Man before a storm, your house will be protected. I actually saw the Grey Man one time when I was 13! I was with a friend, who ironically works as our Shipping and Customer Service Manager. One spring weekend, we were at the beach around dusk when there was a man standing some distances away from us. As we walked towards him, he disappeared. There was a storm that night so we were convinced we saw his ghost!