"You can only burn so many stoves and microwaves before you think, 'Maybe we should get our own place,'" laughs Karen Watkins of Blondies Cakes and Pies. She and her best friend, Nylas Hall, have taken their baking from a pandemic pastime to a community favorite in just over three months, but naturally it took some trial and error.
The two have been friends for nearly three decades, and during the pandemic they joined the 4.4 million Americans who saw an opportunity to take a chance on themselves, opening a brick-and-mortar bakery in Rossville.
"We worked in offices," Hall said, describing her career path pre-COVID as "uninspired."
"The situation with COVID had just changed everything, so we started baking more and more, and people started hearing about us," she added. "Eventually, we looked at each other and thought, 'Why not?'"
The decision to go into business for themselves is something the duo can attribute to the influence and teachings of their mothers, both cake decorators, wedding planners and hairdressers with creative Southern hearts. When venturing out on their own, Watkins leaned into the examples shown to them from their maternal mentors on crafting works of marital art.
"She was in the wedding business for about 25 years," Watkins said, remembering her late mother. "When she was close to her passing from cancer, she had four weddings remaining that year. Nylas and I got some help and stepped in to help fulfill those obligations.
"Even now, everything from the buttercream we make to the cake batter we use comes from recipes of both of our families. A few original changes, but it's all rooted in those recipes."
Hidden among the shops along Cloud Springs Road, Blondies can be hard to spot. But it is currently the only bakery along the busy strip of road that connects East Ridge and Fort Oglethorpe, something the ladies not only enjoy but see as a strategic pathway to bigger and better things.
"Ideally, we'd like to be double the size of what we are now," Hall said when visualizing their plans for the next year. "Obviously that's always the goal, but I think we've got so much of an advantage being where we are and offering what we do. I think it can work. We have so many things we want to offer to our customers."
She and Watkins have created a menu that boasts options for every sweet tooth: cream cheese pies, cream puffs, layered cakes, cookies, hand-pies and more, all made in the spirit of putting a smile on the faces of their hundreds of new fans.
"When people come in, they are so excited that we're tucked away here," Hall said. "We're just so happy at the response from everyone so quickly. She (Watkins) makes it look good, and I make it taste good. People come in and they just love that we're here in the area to bake."
Blondies Cakes and Pies is located at 2497 Cloud Springs Road. Call 706-820-6492 or visit tinyurl.com/BlondiesRossville to learn more. The bakery's summer hours are Wednesday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Contact Erwin Marice Davis II at firstname.lastname@example.org.