Kelsey Shepard never intended to become a baker. Now, with stores in Rocky River and Avon Lake, her creations are drumming up more attention than she’d ever imagined.
Her stores have become so popular that almost every weekend, Kelsey Elizabeth Cakes at 20033 Detroit Road has seen more than 1,000 customers a week and 600 customers every weekend. Long lines wrapping around the corner of the store and reaching Whole Foods, nearly a half-mile away, are not uncommon on Saturdays.
“We normally start preparing our confections at 4 a.m. every Saturday morning to prepare for the day,” she said.
The 31-year-old baker can’t explain why there are so many long lines in front of her store. Instead, she attributes her shops’ success and long lines to the variety of flavors they offer. Her stores, clad with pink walls and balloons are filled with macarons, cupcakes and other confections featuring flavors like birthday cake, triple chocolate and creme brule.
Elizabeth also believes part of her bakery’s success is due to its seasonal menu of treats that rotates every few months. For the holidays, the bakery offered confections like hot cocoa bombs, a chocolate treat filled with marshmallows and cocoa mix that you put into hot water or milk for instant cocoa. The menu was so popular that it sold out in just an hour after going live, she said.
“It’s extremely humbling to see so many people enjoying the food we create,” Shepard said. The business does most of its promotion through Instagram, where its page has more than 110,000 followers that regularly comment about how beautiful the confections are and that the bakery is an inspiration to the community.
The business also has a location in Avon Lake, 720 Avon Belden Road. Store hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The stores also offer online orders from kelseyelizabethcakes.com.
Born in 1989, Shepard lived in Rocky River until she was 8, when her family moved to Idaho. She eventually moved to Avon Lake, where she and her mother, Elizabeth Smith, a co-owner of the bakery, made confections for the holidays. This is how her love for baking began.
“The holidays were always really important to me. I remember growing up, my mom and I would look through Martha Stewart Living magazine to find new recipes to make,” she said. “Baking was a stress reliever for me.”
Before becoming a baker, Shepard attended Baldwin Wallace University but left before graduating. During that time, she felt lost and didn’t know what she wanted to do. At her father Joseph’s suggestion, she got a job working the midnight shift at the now-closed Main Street Cupcakes in Rocky River.
In 2013, she traveled to London to study culinary arts at the Peggy Porschen Academy for six months. When she returned, she tried to apply for positions at other bakeries, but they wanted her to sign a non-compete clause. She refused and instead opened her first bakery in 2014.
Since then, her business has taken off and now Shepard is trying to figure out what’s next. However, she doesn’t plan to change what makes the shop special for a wider audience.
“We’re not trying to be something other than what we are. You won’t see super fancy French flavors here,” she said. “We are fun nostalgic flavors. They taste like how your mom used to make.”
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