Passion: Designing and Baking One-of-a-Kind Cakes and Desserts

Background: In October of 2020, Justine fulfilled months of planning and dreaming by opening her own cottage-style bakery. Her story of pursuing her passion is as complex as it is inspiring. Through difficulties and successes, Justine is now in a place to do what she loves, while speaking life to the people she meets. 

Justine’s passion for baking was initially realized as a junior in high school, but she graduated and decided to begin her career as a nursing assistant. She switched between various other jobs, until eventually getting into the bakery department at a Buehler’s grocery store. As you read about Justine’s journey, you will hear how she needed to navigate through difficult seasons of anxiety, PTSD, and tough career decisions. She credits her faith for her eventual emergence into the business-owner and mother that she is today. Through my conversation with Justine, you will hear her inspiring faith, endurance, and resilience as she overcomes obstacles and trials to find a more enjoyable, fulfilling life.

“I did not intend to do culinary arts at the Career Center in high school, but the cosmetology classes and other programs were booked up. The only thing left was culinary arts, and it turned out I loved it! It was the best thing ever, I am actually so glad that I did not get into the cosmetology program. A couple of decades later, that seed that was planted in high school became this full-time venture today.”

“If it weren’t for having to pay bills and keeping a roof over our heads, I would make these cakes for free. That’s how much I love this.”

“Some nights I don’t sleep and I just make it happen. That’s the thing, I don’t mind it… I have sleepless nights and I just think, ‘I’m so glad I made that cake!’

It’s therapeutic to do something I love. It makes other people happy, and it is calming for me.”

“I worked in the bakery at Buehler’s for two years and I never got to see my kids. My daughter was coming up to Kindergarten age. I had been considering beginning an at-home bakery for about 8 months. I just couldn’t nerve myself up to take the plunge, because my job had a regular paycheck, health insurance, and retirement potential.

Ultimately, the decision to leave and start my own business was simply about my kids. Between my only childcare being an hour drive, and this full-time job, I was away from my daughter for 10 hours a day. And, usually, I would have to immediately put her to bed when we got home. I felt like I was giving up her entire childhood, and the beginning portion of my son’s adulthood, to not even make enough money to be comfortable. I just thought, ‘I have to make this business work, with the Lord’s help, or they will both be 18 and gone, and I will have missed out on their whole lives.’”

“I have had some of the coolest people as my customers. I have yet to have a bad experience with a customer. Not every order comes with a big backstory, but about half of them do. The best part is not only the stories, but I get to be a part of all of these different special occasions. It’s almost like getting invited to everybody’s birthday party, everybody’s retirement, everybody’s graduation. I get to make those special times even happier. I always say that along with serving cake, I get to serve smiles.”

“I try to keep my products unique; brand new to this area. When I was planning, I wanted to create something that was new and fresh. I try to keep the design and style constantly exciting for people in this area.” 

“I know the place I have here is small, but I am just so thankful to have the opportunity to do this out of my own kitchen. Eventually, my dream would be a storefront bakery. I look at the shops downtown and just think, ‘One day!’”

“I hope my kids: 

*See that all things are possible, as long as they keep God involved.

*Realize, If you want something, you need to work hard for it

*See that I do this for our family, first. So, they can have opportunities and things that I didn’t have.

*They learn the value of loving what you do. 

*Through all of this, they pursue what they love. That their mom had anxiety and PTSD, but she pushed through and made it work, and that they can do that too.”

“There are a lot of times that my daughter wants to do something, and she has to see that there are times that we need to get responsibilities done first. ‘My wants aren’t always going to be top priority.’”

“Through what I’m doing, I hope they both learn the value of pursuing something you’re passionate about, and it can also allow you to put food on the table.”

“My absolute favorite part of what I do is the people that I meet. I get to hear their stories, I get to hear the reasoning behind the baked goods they are ordering. I get to hear stories of cancer recovery, I hear the sad stories of people passing away, but then awesome blessings that happened after that. I’ve created memorial cakes that have made me cry. Currently, a cake that I am making is for a 5 year old girl who has been battling cancer her whole life. I had a long talk with her mother, and I get to pray for these people. I feel like God sends me these open-door opportunities to pray for people who need prayed for, and they come in the form of customers. I love it.  

If they end up opening up to me, then I put them on my prayer list, it helps me to choose which scriptures to share for the social media posts. It helps me to put more meaning into my posts. Instead of just putting, ‘Here’s a three-tiered chocolate cake, isn’t it pretty?’ If the customer allows, I love to write the story about why the cake was made and who it celebrates. I love the story behind the order.”

“I am very open about the ways I’ve dealt with my anxiety and PTSD. If people are open to talking and needing conversation in the midst of this order, I love to talk to people about what I’ve been through, what has helped me, and any advice I can provide. 

I was really struggling, confused, and lost… I felt like I was just rolling downhill, and nobody could stop me. This lasted until I got with some doctors, and Christian counseling, and with some other people who understood what I was experiencing. Finally, two years into counseling, things started to make a lot more sense. I began to realize that there’s nothing wrong with me, but there is something wrong with what happened to me. If you could see me seven years ago compared to now, the Lord has done amazing things. 

If anything I went through serves to help anyone else who is currently going through it, then there was a reason it happened. Maybe I went through all of that, because someone else is going through it worse, and I can help. That’s how I look at it.”

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