In one hand, she cradles a perfectly prepared platter of Biscuit de Francie cookies.
Slung over the other arm is a bag filled with her vintage-font Blue Jean Baby designs, sewn with such French phrases as, “Je suis très sweet” and “Mon Amour.”
“I am a little crazy sometimes,” admits the charmingly accented Irvington blonde, a hint of a smile surfacing as her eyes crinkle. “My friends, they say, ‘You don’t want to do fashion anymore?’ and I say I do, but I want to combine different concepts. Kids – they absolutely love these cookies.”
This closet confection-lover with Magnolia Bakery brand-loyalty can see why.
Witte’s recipe, 120-years-old and passed down by French-Swiss four-times-removed Great Aunt Francie, combines pure vanilla butter cream frosting with a succulently sweet, yet delicate cookie that rendered us wordsmiths wordless.
Spoken like the savvy woman she is, “It’s not low-fat (250 calories a cookie) and certainly not high-fat (black-and-white cookies are double the calories). But a little decadence in moderation is the spice of life, no?”
“Kelly, I never, ever thought I would bake,” is the first phrase she utters as we sit for coffee.
A Diploma de Styliste graduate of the 1841-established French fashion school ESMOD, L'Ecole Supérieure des Arts et Techniques de la Mode, Witte began her career designing baby clothes at Burberry in 2001.
Design posts at Givenchy, The Gap, Old Navy and the most recent, OshKosh B’Gosh, followed.
“For me, combining fashion and food – I can realize both my passions,” Witte says. “Designing in corporate America was great. But (with the economy) the way it is, trying to establish your own line is really hard.”
So Witte took to baking with her mother-in-law, Margaret, and perfecting a skill she never thought she’d acquire in the first place.
“It actually turned out to be quite a lot of fun,” she says. “Baking is like being into design and like the French – about food and art.”
France is indeed her muse.
“Nobody ate very fast,” she remarks of her years spent in university. “They take small bites. Love is the culture. It’s about personal, small little pleasures and indulgences in life. The French know how to do it. They pay attention to detail in everything. That’s what I’ve done with my packaging.”