NKY woman turns severe food allergies into successful business

NKY woman turns severe food allergies into successful business
Published: Oct. 20, 2022 at 4:30 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - The world changed for a Northern Kentucky woman when she was diagnosed with severe allergies. Instead of letting it stop her, she used the diagnosis to start a business.

Food allergies affect about 32 million people in the US, according to Food Allergy Research and Education.

Among those millions of people is Tickety-Boo Treats owner Abbi Rettig.

She opened the Newport business two years ago to focus on allergy-friendly desserts.

Rettig says it all started in her kitchen while practicing different recipes after being diagnosed with celiac disease.

“Usually when you hear plant-based gluten-free cheesecake one or two things go off in your mind like, ‘oh, I can’t wait to try it,’ or, ‘oh, you better make me a believer really quickly,’” says Rettig.

She has done just that - growing a fan following of many excited for their next bite. However, Rettig says her success with the business came after she was put in a dark isolated space.

“For me, that was being diagnosed with celiac disease, being diagnosed with that, and then other food allergies and really learning how to cook and bake again,” says Rettig. “And when you have a food allergy, you all of a sudden become isolated from social settings, from family gatherings from holidays, and that can be really difficult.”

Celiac is an autoimmune triggered by eating gluten, a protein found in wheat.

Soon after her own diagnosis, Rettig says her daughter was also diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.

“To take a small kid, and to change their diet, is a big struggle, and seeing her thrive on a healthy diet is the motivation to keep going,” she explains.

So, she took that challenge to her kitchen to practice different vegan gluten-free, and dairy-free recipes.

And brought her cheesecakes made with cashews to parties mainly so that she would have a dessert to enjoy. She never planned for her treats to become an instant hit.

“People were wowed with that there was no gluten, there was no dairy, there was no eggs and it was sweet, naturally,” explained Rettig. “I mean, I think they kept challenging me like, ‘Oh, no way this isn’t true.’ And so I was like, ‘I think I’m onto something here,’ you know. You think it’s a little weird using cashews as an alternative to dairy.”

That’s how Tickety-Boo, which is British slang for “it’s all good,” was born.

A term that Rettig says encompasses the whole mission of her company to make healthy desserts that taste good.

She also recently won the Aviatra Accelerators Grant to help fund her startup business.

Her products, including her grain-free crusts allowing people to create their own recipes, can now be found online and on the store shelves of Fresh Thyme.

Rettig says owning a vegan bakery is not what she ever imagined for herself, but it’s been a journey she’s proud of.

“It feels like such an honor that people trust me, especially when you have allergies that you’re going to eat it and not get sick,” says Rettig.

Rettig says her goal is to keep expanding into more stores.

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