Sugar Arts Bakehouse offers a (very) personal touch.
By Sharon Holbrook
If you’ve ever wished for an update or expansion of your historic home’s kitchen, just know you might not exactly need it. In her Lomond neighborhood home, Becki Dina individually bakes each cake or sheet of cookies for her Sugar Arts Bakehouse customers, and one cookie sheet or cake is quite literally all her petite wall oven can fit at any one time. But that suits Becki just fine. After all, each of her creations is custom – as the name of the business indicates, they’re works of art — and she gives each order her full attention while she creates it.
On the day I visited Becki in her home, where she and her family have lived for 15 years, she showed me her current cake-in-progress — a Buckingham Palace cake for a first-grader with very specific tastes. The birthday girl submitted a crayon mock-up showing a castle with a purple door, yellow windows, and a request for “wite ising.” Becki delivered all that plus turrets, green grass, blue sky, and palace guards.
Unique requests like this are part of the reason Becki’s job is always interesting. “It’s still fun for me, because I never know what someone’s going to ask for.”
Surprisingly, Becki says she never thought of herself as an artistic person before she opened her business four years ago, although she has always loved to bake. Now she sees the world through an artist’s eyes.
“I look at things differently as a decorator. I’ll look at somebody’s dress and say, ‘Ooh, I like that flower. I wonder if I could turn that into a cookie,’” Becki says.
It’s no wonder she’s always thinking about baking. As a work-from-home baker, her business is seamlessly integrated into the rest of her life. She has previously worked as a teacher — and still does, part-time at the Shaker Heights Co-Op Preschool — but she wanted more control over her time.
“The whole reason I did this was so I could be home and be flexible,” says Becki. In addition to baking during the school hours of her four children, she often works afterwards for a few hours once the kids go to bed. “I can’t do that if I have to drive to some shop somewhere.” That’s why Becki, though she receives more cake and cookie requests than she can handle (orders often close a month ahead), has no desire to open a storefront and hire employees.
“Ooh, I like that flower. I wonder if I could turn that into a cookie.”
“I will often get up in the morning and get a cake in the oven or mix up cookie dough before school even starts. I just feel like I have so much more flexibility working from home.”
Becki’s business is exactly where she wants it to be right now. Most of her customers find and contact her through the Sugar Arts Bakehouse page on Facebook, where she posts photos of her creations and alerts her customers about upcoming order deadlines. Her customers can browse the designs there and on her website for inspiration, with options ranging from classic simplicity to Minecraft whimsy to flowery sophistication. It seems that Becki is limited only by her imagination — and, of course, the customer’s.
“My favorite thing is just being able to create something that makes people’s celebrations more special,” says Becki, “whether it’s a baby shower or a little girl’s birthday who wanted Buckingham Palace with yellow windows and a purple door. Who’s going to do that for her?”
Sugar Arts Bakehouse, of course.