Bridget Walker doesn’t want people to stop celebrating their life milestones because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Walker, who owns Sweets Boutique Bakery, said people should still — safely— celebrate with a cake or sweet treat.
As part of Black History Month in February, the Dayton Daily News spoke with Black business owners to highlight the successes of their business and the struggles they have running a business in the Dayton area.
Walker either starts her day at 3:30 a.m. or 4 a.m. because of all the baking that needs to be done.
Usually, Walker and her bakery employees are busy catering events or baking wedding cakes, but she has had to shutdown the catering and wedding parts of her business due to restrictions from the pandemic and to keep her staff safe.
Walker has also had to cut some staff and her store hours because of the pandemic.
“I’m doing the job of 10 people,” Walker said. “When you’re a business owner, you do whatever you have to do to make sure that your business can keep the doors open. So that’s what I do.”
The baker has operated Sweets Boutique Bakery on Second Street in downtown Xenia for 14 years.
She is a Xenia native. Even when she was in culinary school in England she knew she would end up back home. After she her formal training to be a chef, Walker decided to open a bakery.
“When I was a child, I always loved the science of baking and watching the dough rise,” Walker said. “And then, of course, eating it when it is all done!”
Walker said the most popular item at the bakery right now is not a baked good, but boxed lunches. The lunches come with a side of fresh baked bread and a free cookie.
“That’s the best part,” she said.
As a Black woman, Walker said she has had to work harder than some of her peers, but hasn’t run into that since owning her own business in Xenia. Growing up, Walker said she always knew she wanted to own a business.
“It’s great when you are doing something you absolutely love to do. And that’s what I do everyday,” Walker said.
Walker is proud to have raised her two daughters in Xenia around all their family and some of her friends. Walker said she is also proud to have started the business from what savings she had two decades ago.
“I look back over the years and I am just so proud of myself that I have been able to start from really nothing, you know, no one gave me anything. And I’m just proud of myself when I look back at how far I’ve come,” Walker said.
The baker said now she often tries out new baked goods or lunch items on her extended family or her friends. But owning a business in her hometown has not always been easy.
“It’s a very small town, and the economy at times has been very unpredictable and so there have been many hurdles that I just overcame and I just didn’t stress about it,” Walker said. “If something’s not working, I just switch it to something else and I just kind of go with the flow. And I think that’s a big part of why I am successful here.”
The bakery’s pivot during the pandemic is one example of that.
“I just want people to remember to not stop celebrating the happy events in their life, just because it’s COVID, they don’t have to stop,” Walker said. “And that’s what we’re here for. To make all the good food.”