Shantee Gott Manuel and her husband, Mardy, are small business owners who opened CAKEBAR on Oct. 11 on Parkerson Avenue in Crowley. 

I grew up in Iota, a very small town, but in a large family. My mom and my aunts were always baking something — cakes, pies, breads, cookies, candy, you name it they made it. There was constantly a bowl of batter around to be dipped your finger in for a taste. Thinking back, baking was always a part of my life thanks to the women in my family. Everything good in life starts with a stick of butter and bag of sugar.

Growing up, my mother had a side business making wedding cakes. She was always baking all sorts of other baked goods as well. She taught my sister and I how to bake, but it wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I became really interested in it. In the late 1990s my best friend and I took a baking class, and that is when I knew this was something I wanted to pursue. I started small taking orders from friends and family and then the word started to spread to others about my baking. Over the next few years my side business started to grow and I was baking almost every night in my small apartment kitchen. One night I decided it was time to open a storefront.

My first location of CAKEBAR was opened in Moss Bluff on Nov. 6, 2017. I had a great business in Moss Bluff with lots of wonderful support from the community. In 2018, I got married and relocated back to my hometown of Iota. The drive back and forth to Moss Bluff everyday was a bit tiring. My lease in Moss Bluff was up for renewal this year, so I decided to start looking around Acadia Parish for a new location.

My husband and I were really excited to find this location on North Parkerson Avenue in Crowley. It is in a high traffic area and very visible. I love all of the large windows on the front and side of the building. It lets so much natural light in. I am also happy that it is larger than my first location. With all the extra space, I was able to add more seating and I now have more space in my kitchen to work.

To establish yourself, you must have a good product that people want and consistency is key. Branding and social media are also important in establishing a business. My sister works in marketing, and she designed my logo and worked with me to create my brand and promote my business on social media. Social media has really helped to grow my business and get people excited about CAKEBAR.

I work really hard to make sure each item has a signature look and taste every time. If it is not the right taste or if the frosting is not piped correctly, it will not come out of the kitchen. When I am training a new employee, I am extremely particular and will not let them take on responsibilities in the kitchen until they perfect it. So until that happens I do it myself, which can sometimes be a very big challenge because I am baking all day long from early morning before we open until after we close. It's non-stop baking, but it’s worth it.

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Email Adam Daigle at adaigle@theadvocate.com.