Debbie Spangler decorates a wedding cake at Edible Artistry, the business she operates in partnership with Cindy's Catering.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Life is sweet for Debbie Spangler.
After she separated from her husband last year, the part-time corporate trainer had to find a way to support herself and her daughter. Rather than comb the classifieds to find a job, she decided to start her own business.
"My sister showed me an article about people who had left traditional jobs to follow their dreams. There was an article about a lawyer who quit his job to start baking," said Spangler, who had dreams in college of owning a coffee shop and bakery. "I thought, 'Why am I going to look for a job, not that I dislike, but not that I love?"'
She now owns Edible Artistry, creating decadent confections from wedding cakes to classics such as carrot cake. Her business has grown so much in the past year, that in November she moved out of her home kitchen and into a commercial kitchen at Cindy's Catering Shop on Washington Road across from the Columbia Square shopping center.
Her business has grown bite by bite. She began by playing host to a tasting party, inviting everyone she met to sample her cakes. More than 200 people came to her first party, and the orders kept coming.
"In August, I did a birthday cake for a woman. Another lady at her work heard about it and ordered her birthday cake, and another lady ordered a cake for her husband's graduation," said Spangler, who worked part-time as a corporate trainer and as a waitress until her business got off the ground.
Her holiday business was almost overwhelming, she said. In the three days before Christmas, she baked 45 cakes.
Having the commercial kitchen has allowed Spangler to expand her business. Where at home, she would have to bake each layer of a wedding cake; now she can bake up to 10 cakes at once.
She said much of her success has come from her willingness to experiment. Her carrot cake includes crushed pineapple and brandied raisins. Her best selling Seventh Heaven chocolate cake is a chocolate cake with chocolate icing and a chocolate glaze decorated with white chocolate stripes. Her personal favorite is a banana cake with peanut-butter cream cheese filling topped with chocolate ganache and chopped peanuts.
From the corporate world to one filled with chocolate, Spangler said the transition has been a sweet one.
"In the corporate world, everybody has problems. In this business, everybody's happy," she said. "I'm baking wedding cakes, birthday cakes. Nobody calls and gets a cake if they are mad at somebody. I get to work with happy people all day long."
Just as the name implies, Spangler's business has allowed her to explore her creative side, creating themed birthday cakes from Lizzie McGuire to SpongeBob SquarePants.
"When customers come in to order a cake, I ask them if they like the more contemporary or more traditional, elaborate or simple. Instead of having a pretty cake, it's a breathtaking cake to them because I've captured some of their personality," she said.
Having her own business has also been educational for her 10-year-old daughter, Angela.
"She helps every Saturday - washes dishes, measures ingredients, cracks eggs," Spangler said. "It's been great for our relationship. Now she knows what mommy does all day long to make ends meet."
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