One of the best things about the Eat Here ATL platform is that we have been working so hard to build up the people behind their brands. Atlanta is home to some of the world's best restaurateurs, chefs, and bakers. Several months ago my intern (Ashleigh Byrne) and I attended a film screening at Ponce City Market where she introduced me to Shelly Jones of Pastry Shells.
Shelly is pretty much a bad ass. Although she may not define herself as such, she is. By day she is an engineer, yet by night she is an innovative pastry chef. What started as a project fueled by passion in college transformed into a full-fledged business.
Passion comes with sacrifice. Shelly's hard work is evident in the elaborate cake designs and the amazing service she offers her clients via her customization process. I learned about Shelly's business's inner workings while conducting an interview at her home. One thing that is very clear- Shelly is a woman who works hard for what she desires. The below questions are just a taste of the things I learned from our time together.
*I will also add that she made the most adorable sugar cookies fashioned after the Eat Here ATL logo. Too bad I ate them before I snapped a good picture.
- When did you start baking and how did you decide to turn that passion into a business?
I have been baking for as long as I can remember. At a very young age, I would make pies every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas with my Dad as his little helper. Now, he has turned into my helper for many of my orders, and it seems like I am baking more often than not!
- What's your favorite thing to bake?
My favorite thing about Pastry Shells is decorating! I love all the different designs that come with every order; no two orders look exactly alike. My favorite order consists of creating an outside-the-box type of wedding cake. For example, the ruby red marble cake that is going to be published in the Celebration Society - Weddings: Fall 2016 magazine
- If you could only bake one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Sugar Cookies! These come in all shapes, sizes, colors, etc! There is no limit to what I can put on a sugar cookie!
- What's the hardest thing about being your own boss?
Being my own boss is a dream come true; however, it is also quite challenging. I'm responsible for learning and perfecting every aspect of my business. People see the finished product as a beautifully decorated dessert, but there is so much more that goes into consideration. Not only am I responsible for designing and decorating the desserts, but I also have to learn and perfect effective social media usage, advertising, website design/ layout, accounting, etc. - the list goes on! I am constantly learning new things about every different facet of my business, which definitely adds both the challenge and excitement of building this on my own! Eventually, I will task off some of the admin-related responsibilities via hiring and outsourcing; therefore, I will solely focus on the creative aspect of this business- what I love the most!
- Who is your biggest supporter?
By far my biggest supporter is my fiance, Chris! He not only helps with my orders, but he supports me in every way possible. It means the world to me! Especially to have someone that puts so much faith and trust into my business's future.
- Where do you find inspiration for cakes?
I love following wedding blogs! I get inspiration from all aspects of weddings. I'm inspired by lace ideas from dresses, color ideas from flowers, texture ideas from the linens, etc. The wedding industry is constantly changing and bringing more and more inspiration for my pastry designs
- Where do see your brand in 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?
This is a tough question, but my goal is to work full time on Pastry Shells in the next year or so. This would be such a huge leap, which I can't wait to experience! In 5 years I fully plan to have a great team to help me take on and fulfill many more orders. In 10 years I hope to have a full staff to help create some amazing pieces of edible art and run a successful year-round baking business.
- If you could give advice to an upcoming baker what would you say?
Never stop learning! I know this is true in all aspects of our lives, but baking can get very frustrating. It took me MANY attempts to finally get the hang of covering a cake in fondant. I watched countless online videos, took some local baking classes, and joined some various Facebook groups. Even now, I am constantly learning new tips and tricks to continuously hone my craft and perfect the art of decorating a cake. Don't let one failed attempt or cake bring you down. I assure you- all bakers had hundreds of failure experiences that they could share on their journey to whatever their definition of success looks like for them today.
Be sure to follow Pastry Shells on Instagram.