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COVID Cripples Cake Artist’s Business - She Stays the Course and Wins Big!

“I remember the smells of the kitchen. I remember her wedding rings hitting the side of the bowl when she floured the pan, the old-school way.”

Cake artist Kimberly Outlaw has a knack for creating spectacular specialty cakes. For her, baking is a passion that started in her grandmother Marjorie’s kitchen.

“That's when I first had a love for baking, not only because the sweets were so amazing, but spending the time with her, listening to her stories about when she baked with her grandmother when she was a little girl and waiting to lick those beaters at the end. It's about making something with your hands for someone you love. You're putting your love into baking and the cakes and they're something that everyone remembers.”

Kim continued the tradition of baking with her own kids.

‘“I was just making cakes for my babies, and when I started posting the pictures, people were like, ‘Hey, could you make a cake for my mom's birthday or my children?’”

Soon, everyone was asking for cakes and in 2016, Kim started Sweet Cravings bakery. As her business grew, Kim put into practice something she learned from both her grandmothers

“My grandmother, Marjorie, and my grandmother, Mattie, taught us how to pray, they taught us how to talk to the Lord, they taught us how to live, taught me that a closed fist cannot receive. Their whole lives were putting God first and trusting God. I always gave to God because it's an honor to do it and it's the least you can do. He gives us so much. He's only asking for a little bit if you really think about it, and I give willingly.”

For the next three years, Kim’s business did well. Then Covid hit. Soon, the restrictions on gatherings took their toll.

“I'm in the celebration business and most of my cakes are very elaborate cakes; usually I’m booked for like huge events, like military retirements, graduations, things of that nature where there will be a large gathering. That definitely put a hit on my business.”

By mid-2020, Sweet Cravings was barely surviving. Kim turned to wholesaling to keep her business afloat. Then, she suffered more losses.

“I went from having two grandmothers to having none by November 2020. I lost my grandmother, Mattie, in November of 2019 on November 6th, and I lost my grandmother, Marjorie, on November the 9th of 2020. My grandma, Marjorie, lived to be 100 years old, which is such a blessing in itself, you know. And even though she lived 100 years it wasn't enough; it would never be enough for me. To lose someone like that that is so close to you, was basically so devastating to me.”

Discouraged and overwhelmed with grief, Kim felt like giving up on her business completely.

‘“Creativity was shot. I didn't want to touch another cake at first because the last cakes that I made, one was for my grandmother's birthday, so in my mind I'm thinking ‘The last time I did this my grandmother was living. How can I do this again?’"

Again, following her grandmothers’ example, Kim stayed the course, tithing, praying, and trusting God to see her through.

“I did a lot of praying. I was praying a lot about my direction, about my purpose, just the physical, you know, hurt I was going through.”

Then one day, Kim was flipping through Tiktok when she came across a young woman giving tips for small businesses.

‘“So, she said, ‘Hey, you know, did you know that Beyonce Knowles-Carter and her Beygood Foundation have partnered with the NAACP and that they're offering $10,000 grants to black-owned business that were affected during the Covid-19 pandemic?’”

Although it was a long-shot, Kim applied online and quickly put it out of her mind. When she checked her email a few months later…

“‘I just clicked on it, ‘Oh, let me see who won.’ Like, never thinking it was me. And when I read it, my kids will tell you I scared them to death because I screamed, probably this bellow and then I started crying.”

Kim had been selected to receive the $10,000 grant!

“It was such an emotional moment; it was one of the most beautiful, exciting moments of my life.”

Since that time, her business has not only rebounded but exploded! She says through her prayers God supplied the inspiration—and the funds--to keep going.

‘“God just encouraged my heart. I think he really did wrap his hands around my tender, raw heart, and massage it, literally like, ‘It's-it's going to be okay.’ This is one of the most beautiful, exciting, fantastic occurrences that's ever happened to me during one of the most tragic times of my life and I just think it's just a beautiful gift from God for me to keep moving forward and validation like, "Yes, you're doing the right thing, please don't quit!"’ 

Kim continues to keep her grandmothers’ memory alive through her baking. She says she’s learned she can trust God to help her through any challenge she may face.

“When I'm working on a cake it's like worship – it's my worship to him. God has us here for a reason and I want to make him proud. I want to make those ladies proud. I want to do exactly what I'm here to do and I want to inspire my babies to be strong and make it through things too. Whatever challenge comes, God kinda guides me to maneuver it, with him. Because by myself, I don't think I can do it, but as long as he's leading me in that, I know I'm in good hands, and I can tackle anything.”

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