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More Than A (Gourmet) Biscuit

How Lesley Riley, Founder of Mama’s Biscuits, is Using Her Unique Business to Give Back to the Community

Article by Arliss Veldhuizen

Photography by Rebecca Mitchell Photography

Originally published in Frederick Lifestyle

When you think, “biscuit,” what comes to mind? A dry, crumbly pastry? How about Kahlua Stuffed Brie with Brown Sugar Pecan sauce? Time to expand your biscuit palate!

Lesley Riley, aka Mama Biscuit, is changing the biscuit game and giving back to her Frederick community at the same time.

It all started at grandma’s house. No matter the occasion, age or head count, Lesley’s grandmother was always hard at work in the kitchen for her family. Witnessing this day after day, a passion for baking was planted in Lesley that would eventually yield the founding of Mama’s Biscuits.

Years before her beloved biscuits hit the scene, Lesley baked character cakes on the side while her son attended daycare. Next came her family-owned restaurant, Legends (located in NC), which served her family’s favorite recipes.

Then, while working as an IT Project Manager, Lesley headed to New York to audition for Master Chef, but she didn’t make the cut. Despite her discouragement, Lesley's social media following rooted for her to continue, and that’s just what she did. The result? Mama’s Biscuits: gourmet biscuits serving up delectable flavors made with top-quality ingredients.

Incorporated in 2015, and based in Frederick, Mama’s Biscuits offers a rotating schedule of 50+ flavors; and quality over quantity is the priority. Lesley and her tight-knit team produce small batches to maintain the quality biscuits her fans have come to love. But the journey to Mama’s Biscuits’ success was no walk in the park. 

In 2019, the company plummeted from lack of capital funding, and Lesley had exhausted all her personal funds to keep it going. Nevertheless, she and her team pressed forward, and after carrying out a company rebrand with a major packaging upgrade, they found the push they needed and came out stronger than before.

Aside from a resilient team and unparalleled biscuits, there’s more that makes Mama’s Biscuits special. Lesley’s heart for giving back to the community is something to admire, and she uses Mama’s Biscuits to do just that. Lesley created the Feeding Faith Initiative with a focused mission to serve and has teamed up with local agencies, including the Department of Aging, Frederick Rescue Mission, Religious Coalition Shelter, Frederick Community College and Community Action, donating thousands of biscuits to the community each year. Even still, she wanted to do more.

This year, the Mama’s Biscuit team hits the streets of Frederick and three other U.S. cities to roll out their Biscuits and Blankets initiative. Each street team will deliver care packages to members of the homeless community that include a fleece blanket, toothbrush, pair of socks, and of course, a bag of Mama’s Biscuits. Lesley and her team plan to carry out Biscuits and Blankets yearly with the hope of expansion to more cities.

  • Photography by Lesley Riley
  • Photography by Lesley Riley