Baking latest project for Kasson’s Nicole Lambright
Nicole (Draheim) Lambright’s parents, Roger and Ramona, moved to Kasson in 1971 with their two children and Nicole was born on January 1 the following year. Nicole attended Kasson-Mantorville schools, and was very involved in choir with director Clark Johnson, and took voice lessons from Nancy Johnson. She was also part of the K-M band program for several years. Nicole said she really enjoyed her art classes and was inspired by longtime K-M art instructor Marilyn Fredrickson. Her family would take a week’s vacation and go to a lake area in the Alexandria region to do some fishing and boating. Nicole said she would spend a lot of time in the summer at the K-M swimming pool.
After graduating from K-M, she enrolled at Alexandria Technical College in their two-year commercial arts program, now called graphic design, as she wanted to be an illustrator. Her father had a long career at the Post Bulletin newspaper, so he encouraged her to check out the PB. She worked there for five years, and designed ads for the paper and other businesses including the DCI newspaper on a freelance basis.
In 1991 Jimmy’s Pizza came to Kasson, and Nicole’s mom worked for the owner, Jimmy. Since the owner lived some distance from Kasson, Ramona became the manager, and they bought the business in 1993. Nicole started part time for her mother at Jimmy’s Pizza in 1999.
Donovan Lambright grew up in Missouri, graduated from Northwest Missouri State, and then grad school at the University of Missouri. He came to Rochester, in 2000 when he was offered a job with the SELCO system for Minnesota libraries. Donovan continues to work as a resource sharing consultant for 35 libraries, and also with many area schools in southeast Minnesota.
Nicole had her own house in Rochester so was able to use her artistic talents in interior decorating. Donovan and Nicole were introduced to each other by a mutual friend, and they were married in August 2005 and they continued to live in Rochester. They welcomed their daughter Rayna, and when Kaylee was born in 2007, they decided to move to Kasson.
In 2007, Nicole’s parents opened a Jimmy’s Pizza in Zumbrota, and Nicole managed this store full time for the next five years and then the business was sold. She liked to try out a variety of pizzas with a pizza of the month and even had a Chile Cheese Dog pizza which many people really enjoyed! Jimmy’s Pizza in Kasson was sold in 2016.
Nicole then worked at a couple of jobs such as Hy-Vee, and with the Kasson Elementary kitchen staff. In 2018 an opportunity became available at KMTelecom in Kasson in a customer service position. She will work with TV, internet, telephone, and streaming issues, to get customers steered in the right direction working with their technicians.
In February 2020, a dramatic event occurred when their 12-year-old daughter, Kaylee, took her life. It is something that no family ever thinks will happen or being an alumni member when it occurs in your own family. Donovan and Nicole said they are grateful for the support the community showed to them during this crisis. It has drawn them closer together, and also shown the importance of family. They think about things that will never occur for Kaylee in the future on a regular basis.
They have taken part in Out of the Darkness Walks in Rochester for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. On June 16, NAMI will be holding a walk at the Dodge County Fairgrounds, and they will have a team (similar to the annual cancer relay) with food trucks and other events. This event is to make people more aware of suicide prevention, and the help that is available. Many students have struggled being isolated, and not able to attend in person at school and also some people working at home during the COVID shutdowns.
Donovan is an avid history reader, especially books on the Civil War. He also does some home brewing and tries out different beer recipes for friends who are also into brewing beer. Nicole said she has a hard time keeping focused reading a book, but she certainly enjoys listening to audio books and podcasts. They like to listen to music and Nicole prefers country and Christian styles while Donovan leans toward various types of rock music. He was in a rock band after he finished college. Donovan and Nicole will take in concerts and plays in Rochester and the cities at times.
Their daughter Rayna is a junior at K-M and is also very artistic and loves to draw. Nicole’s sister is a quilter and has made many very beautiful quilts so artistic ability seems to run in their family.
The Lambright’s are a split football team family as Donovan is a Kansas City Chiefs fan while Nicole is a Viking fan. They will watch the games, but sometimes the teams play at the same time so they might have to make a choice when that happens. They have attended some Twins and Timberwolves games in person when they have had the opportunity. They like to do some bike riding around our community. Donovan takes their two dogs on walks for exercise for the dogs and himself and Nicole will also do her share of dog walking. Nicole said this might sound a little strange, but she enjoys watching WWE wrestling on TV as it seems to take things off her mind when watching the action on the mat!
The family has tried to take a vacation trip every couple of years. While Donovan’s mother was still living, they would go to Missouri each year for a family visit. They have taken trips to the Black Hills in South Dakota and Florida plus some other states.
The Lambright’s became members of St. John’s Lutheran shortly after they moved to Kasson and were involved with the CKP program for their children and are part of other volunteer projects in church.
Nicole said one of her grandmothers was very crafty plus a good baker and she enjoyed the things that she made so perhaps that got her inspired at a young age. Nicole would sit on the kitchen counter and watch when her mother prepared her baking projects. One day she got too close to the mixer and got her hair caught in the beaters, but fortunately her mother was right there and got it turned off. She lost a little hair and the cake batter got tossed away, but perhaps that was the start of her baking career!
Nicole started to experiment with birthday cakes when her children were young. The first cake was designed like building blocks, and the next year was a Tinkerbell design. The cakes seemed to get more artistic each year. She would decorate cookies and bring them along for her co-workers, and they were quite impressed. Nicole said she was really looking for a purpose in her life, and in January 2022 she asked Donovan what he thought about her getting more involved with baking. He went along with the idea as he always liked what she made anyway.
She started making cookies, cakes, cupcakes, and scones for sale when people would ask her to do this. Nicole tries out different recipes, and said her co-workers are really honest when she brings items to work and they will tell her what they like or if something should be changed. Nicole has had a food license for several years being involved with the pizza business, and now with her own baking.
Her baking is considered a cottage business classification which is a small business that is run in your own home. She can’t ship baked goods or sell foods that need to be refrigerated. She can take part at a food venue, but she needs to be there in person at the display. Nicole calls her baking business Kayker’s Cookies and Cakes for custom cakes, bars, cookies, and other tasty confections. Word of mouth has really been how people have discovered her baking products so far with her contact phone 507-951-4121.
The Lambrights feel Kasson is a great community to live in with a good school system. The town has almost doubled in size since Nicole was growing up, but it still has a lot to offer people working in Rochester, and they like the atmosphere of a small town. Even though Nicole grew up in Kasson and then lived in Rochester for 15 years, she said you really don’t know what you had or may not have appreciated things when you were younger.
Photo: Submitted Photo The Lambright family: Nicole, Donovan, Rayna, and Kaylee.