From the moment Emily Grable stepped inside the Hazel Artisan Bakery Café, she knew it was where her heart belonged.

From the moment Emily Grable stepped inside the Hazel Artisan Bakery Café, she knew it was where her heart belonged.

A culinary artist with a passion for sharing her talent, Grable dreamed of owning a shop just like the bakery.

“I've always enjoyed the creative side of being a pastry chef and I was truly inspired when working next to the previous owner (of the bakery),” Grable said. “I was a pastry chef for the Canton's Women Club and Giant Eagle Corporate before coming to work here.”

Nine years after visiting Hazel Artisan Bakery Café for the first time, Grable’s dream came true. She purchased the bakery, located at 1176 S. Main St., saying it was something that was just “meant to be.” It was a transition she was comfortable with, having worked as a pastry chef for the previous owner for more than a year before taking over the business herself.

“I may only be 24 years old,” Grable said, “but I have worked as a pastry chef for five years and in the food industry for 10 years.”

By making the move to become her own boss and oversee her own business, Grable became part of a growing business trend that is seeing more women taking the reins of business.

In 2014, more than nine million companies across the U.S. were owned by women, according to the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO).

The National Women’s Business Council noted during National Small Business Week in May 2014, that women entrepreneurs were the fastest-growing segment of small business.

Gail Jones and her daughter Misty Brown also are among some of the area’s newest business owners. They purchased The Cake Lady in February 2014. The business has been located in the current location
for more than 13 years. Jones and Brown purchased the recipes and the name.

Brown worked for the previous owner and had been decorating cakes from her home for a number of years. Jones had a career in managing nursing home kitchens for a number of years. They knew they wanted to start a business together and when The Cake Lady became available, they made
the move.

“We had talked about starting a business to help coordinate weddings,” Brown said, “and we do a lot with weddings with the bakery.”

FINDING SUPPORT

New business owners are discovering that networking is key if you are going to establish a strong business.

Grable has faced a few challenges since purchasing the bakery and said her lack of a strong financial background and the long hours required have been among the biggest hurdles she’s faced. She said, in some ways, it's still a man's world when it comes to financing, insurance and opening vendor accounts.

Getting her through that, though, are some of the people she has met along the way. Many of her contacts with the art world in downtown Canton and at Kent State University have helped her with networking and putting her in touch with people who can help her business
 
Jones and Brown found that community resources, such as those support and educational opportunities offered through organizations including the chamber and SCORE, are important to tap. While both women had management experience, they attended several workshops to learn more about the business side of things.

“We both had some experience working with all of the paperwork but we still needed to learn about all of the regulations and licenses,” Jones said.

WORTH THE REWARD

Taking your greatest passions and turning them into a business venture isn’t the easiest thing to do. Both Jones and Brown have said the long hours invested in the business were unexpected. They also found it hard to find employees who had a strong work ethic.

But there are plenty of rewards along the way as well.

“The business has been a creative outlet for both of us,” Jones said. “Misty has always been a painter, she has drawn, worked with charcoal and this is just another creative way for her to work. I've always been that way with cooking, I don't remember a time when I didn't enjoy cooking or baking.”

“It's really nice only answering to each other,” Brown said. “The interaction with all of the customers makes the long hours all worth it.”

Grable agrees. When you’re doing something you love and sharing your talents with the customers you love, it makes it all worthwhile. As Grable works to add her own personality and culinary flare to the already-established menu at Hazel Artisan Bakery Café, she’s doing what she was meant to do. Her specialty, after all, is taking typical French pastry and turning into something more modern.

“I've spent two years perfecting my recipes for macaroons and have sold more than 20,000 of them,” Grable said. “I make a macaroon that looks like a hamburger and French fries that people really love.”