Sugar Arts Bakehouse
In Becki Dina’s Shaker Heights home, she uses her wall oven to make all of her custom cookies, and baked goods orders. You might imagine a 10” x 15” cookie sheet lined with unique sugar cookie shapes. After the dozen or so cookies have cooled down, they must wait their turn for the baker. One by one they turn into a canvas, brushed with icing and painted into a work of art. And, one by one, they are packaged, delivered, and satisfyingly accepted.
What if it isn’t just one dozen? What if it’s a custom order of 900 cookies, each necessitating a hand-painted logo? We’ll let you calculate how long it takes to bake 900 cookies when the oven takes 18 at a time, baking for 6 minutes. In your formula, be sure to include time for exceptional design and patience. This is SugarArts Bakehouse.
In the fall of 2019, Becki Dina decided to take her baking side hustle and turn it into her full-time job. “Things were going well! And then, in March and April, not so great.” In March 2020, when COVID-19 shutdowns permeated across the U.S., Becki experienced order cancellations, and, like many small businesses, she had to pivot.
Expanding on her services, Becki began offering custom cakes and sugar cookies for birthday parties. These met the emotional needs of a community who, for the moment, couldn’t celebrate birthdays or other festivities together. Instead, drive-by birthday parties and other celebrations were complimented by SugarArts Bakehouse, alleviating the distress the pandemic had caused - at least for a moment.
When we asked Becki how she first began baking, we expected her to talk about growing up and holding onto nostalgic recipes. These are warm memories, but, Becki’s passion for baking is self-taught and absolutely admirable, reminding us all that we are capable beyond measure.
In 2013, Becki officially quit teaching music after 10 years. By this time, she had four young kids and decided to stay home with her youngest. She recalls, “it was the first year in ten years that I wouldn’t be preparing to go back to school in August, and, by the time December rolled around, I wanted to be involved in something.” Each year, she made a custom cake for each of her children’s birthdays. She decided to take that passion for baking cakes and make Christmas cookies.
Becki checked out 15 books on cookies from Shaker Library and watched plenty of videos on cookies. She fell in love with it, teaching herself a skill that transpired into a thriving home-based business -- from a tiny wall oven, to her kitchen table, and into the hands of a grateful community. The biggest rewards, she explains, “is the freedom that your small business gives you; the ability to serve your community, and when a customer or a friend reaches out to you about how their order brought them joy.”
Of course, owning a home-based business can be challenging too. Becki explains that “it’s hard to relax at home sometimes because the work never stops. There’s always something I could be doing and it’s hard to take time off.” She balances this with being in charge of her own schedule. After all, this is a great benefit of working for yourself.
When we asked what advice Becki has for those who want to start their own small business, she advises to “begin with a vision, ask yourself what you want to be and what’s out there. Do you want to offer something new or something that already exists? Make sure to brand yourself, too.”
This is great advice. We’d add: remember your why. For SugarArts, it’s in the name: A.R.T.S. represents the first name of Becki’s four children: Andrew, Rachel, Tabitha, and Sara. They not only inspire the name, but also the work.
SugarArts Bakehouse is typically booked one month out. For order inquiries, visit the website and be sure to give at least a week’s notice.