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Some dreams are born in childhood. Others appear later in life when least expected.
That’s how it happened for local culinary artist, Dana Priestman, business owner of Piece of Cake, Jamestown, NY. While working on her associates degree at Jamestown Business College, Priestman looked for an opportunity in the business world. She happened across a video on YouTube. The woman in the video was a bakery owner giving a tutorial on decorating sugar cookies. Priestman wanted to give it a try. From there, her business was born.
In the beginning, Priestman got three to four hours of sleep a night. She worked full time during the day, then baked all night.
“Balance is the key,” Priestman said. She had to turn away orders so she could have that balanced life.
Priestman works full time outside the home, operates her business baking 20 hours a week and is single mom to Connor, 14. Being a mom is high priority for Priestman, who spends numerous hours cheering on Connor at sporting events, as well as musical performances and competitions. She is also an active member of the 96th Highlanders Pipes and Drums, for which she participates in fundraisers and local events.
So, why take on a home business?
“I like baking. I like decorating,” Priestman said.
Priestman has been in business for four and a half years. She is self taught and says she has improved with new techniques. Another benefit of operating her own business is working when she chooses.
“I can set my own hours,” she said.
Priestman chose baking as a creative outlet. “It lets me be creative. I liked being artistic, drawing, and sketching as a kid,” she said.
Priestman has lived in Jamestown for 9 1/2 years. She grew up in San Antonio, Texas. Her stepmother, originally from Jamestown, moved back with Priestman’s father 30 years after she’d left. Priestman followed three years later. She worked for Fed Ex and transferred to Jamestown from Fort Worth.
“It just kind of happened,” she said of her move to Jamestown.
All of Priestman’s creations are made with fresh ingredients and no preservatives. Her items are made mostly for special occasions like birthdays, holidays, special events, and baby showers. She has 500 various cookie cutters.
A cookie order is a three day process. Decorated cookies have to be ordered several days in advance. Priestman hand decorates her cookies and cupcakes. “What makes me unique is how I customize the desserts,” Priestman said. Cookies and cupcakes can be decorated as the customer desires. They can be personalized with a message, names or initials.
Priestman obtained a permit through the Department of Agriculture for her home based business. She has a regular customer base of 15 people who order consistently for birthdays and holidays. She also bakes and donates her confections locally to Relay for Life. Nationally, Priestman has baked and donated cookies for the last three years to the ‘Go Bo’ Foundation bake sale in Door County, Wisconsin. The organization helps children fighting cancer. Their fall festival and bake sale raised over $27,000 last year.
Priestman’s business has flourished by word of mouth advertising. Initial contacts are made through her Facebook page, ‘Piece of Cake (Jamestown, NY)’ or she can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. She delivers in Jamestown. Orders are also available for pick up. Orders outside of the city can be delivered for a small fee.
As for the future of Piece of Cake, Priestman said she plans to continue baking. So the specialty treats will be available for many years to come.