A woman with a lifetime love of cake decorating has opened a shop on Main Street called Patty Cake Bakery, the newest business downtown.
“I started out helping my uncle decorate cakes when I was 11 or 12 years old,” said Denetra Jackson. “The first cake I really ventured out with on my own was when I made my own wedding cake.”
Jackson has lived in Clayton for six years. She has three children.
Each day, Jackson starts baking around 5:15 a.m. While cupcakes are in the oven, she’s fixing her children’s lunches and taking them to the bus stop.
“I fix the icing the night before,” said Jackson, whose home kitchen has passed state inspection.
“Knowing I’m producing a product that is fresh every time someone buys it makes it worth it to me,” she added.
Part of what inspired Jackson to open her bakery was seeing cakes at the grocery store that were nicely decorated but maybe not as fresh as customers might want. From her own time working at a grocery store, she knew those beautiful cakes are sometimes frozen.
“I thought that was really misleading to people,” Jackson said.
Before opening her bakery downtown, Jackson owned a hair salon on U.S. 70. When she wasn’t working at the salon, she’d spend time making cupcakes and cakes for birthdays and graduations.
“I stepped out on faith and decided to open my own shop,” Jackson said. The shop on Main Street opened in February.
The fear of launching a business in a down economy had kept her from taking that leap of faith, but, finally, Jackson decided she could not let fear hold her back.
A tight-knit group of friends and her husband serve as her support team. One friend, Brenda Irwin, helps with marketing. Another, Sonya Davis, helps with the baking.
Jackson said she also relies on friends and her children to help her with taste-testing.
Each week, she experiments with new flavors, and what’s for sale at the bakery varies depending on her latest inspiration.
Recent flavors include include fudge marble, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and butter pecan. The best-selling flavor this month has been strawberry buttercream.
Each cupcake sells for around $2.
Jackson has already attracted the attention of groups that have asked her to provide cupcakes for large events. She and her team created 200 cupcakes for an event at Johnston Medical Center and will soon provide desserts for an event at Riverwood Middle School.
Along with cupcakes, Jackson sells homemade cookies and cake pops, which resemble ice cream push-ups and are a less messy way to indulge in a dessert on the go.