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Hobby baker turned professional: Nelson mom starts at-home business on eve of pandemic

Hobby baker turned professional: Nelson mom starts at-home business on eve of pandemic

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On a silver cake stand sits a tall, multi-layered, pink Disney princess-themed birthday cake.

Cascading dollops of deeper pink frosting flow down the tiered cake before coming to a rest at its base, and brightly colored sprinkles fill in the nooks and crannies left behind by the frosting.

When Amanda Milton first got into the baking game in March 2020, a couple years after having moved to the Faber area in November 2018, her experience with the craft was fairly limited. She had mostly experimented with with macarons, a French sweet, and some breads, but had hardly touched a cake up to that point.

Fast forward to today, and now the stay-at-home mom routinely creates confectionary creations in her kitchen for her home-based bakery business, Eclectic Mom Creations LLC. A business she started after having moved to the county only a couple years ago at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Milton is one of many who have turned to running businesses at home because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m proud of the progress she’s made. I don’t think she or I ever thought she was going to become the cake lady that she’s grown into, and I’m really amazed at where she started off and now with the cakes she’s putting out,” Milton’s husband, David Milton, said.

Milton, who is self-taught, said she never intended to have a “full-on business,” but a neighbor had one day asked her to bake a cake, and from there she “just kept getting a few requests here and there to have cakes made.”

“I’m just a crazy mom that decided I could bake cakes one day,” Milton said with a laugh, later adding cakes could take anywhere from five to 12 hours to complete based on the request.

She had hoped to be a hobby baker to have something to do while at home, but she received notice from Nelson County Commissioner of the Revenue’s office that said she needed to file for a business license, and from that came Eclectic Mom Creations, which operates under cottage food law, defining what she can and cannot make, Milton said.

Milton said it can be difficult at times to balance her business, home life and her own self care. She also considers herself a people pleaser, doing her best to meet customer expectations, which has pushed her baking skills to the point they are now.

“It becomes a little overwhelming,” Milton said. “I’ve had many sleepless nights because when I take on a cake project I really put my heart and soul into it, it consumes my sleep.”

The best part of the process for Milton, which she called a mixture of art and science, is being able to bring others’ ideas to life and seeing the reactions or smiles on children’s faces from her creations.

“For me that makes all the headaches, all the stress, all the time into it completely worth it,” Milton said.

While she enjoys baking cakes, Milton said baking fresh bread was one of her favorite things to make.

She said she loves the artisanal part of bread-making and the complexity of the craft, despite always having been drawn to the freedom cooking gives over the more precise and technical craft baking.

The pandemic also presented a hurdle for her early on in getting her business establish, having closed the door on different opportunities when everything shut down, she said. As the warmer months began to roll around, however, business began to pick up, and at her peak she was filling about a dozen different orders per month.

“People still wanted to have small celebrations for their kid because you don’t want to take that excitement away from that kid for their birthday so a lot of people more than anything wanted this really spectacular cake for their kid even though they couldn’t have this big celebration,” Milton said.

Milton said has aspirations that take her beyond just her at-home business. She and her husband, who both enjoy cooking, have a shared dream to one day open a food truck. David Milton said Amanda’s business can help them build a potential customer base and secure connections for when they take that next step.

For now though, Milton said she plans to continue her baking business for the foreseeable future.

The younger of her two sons, who is 3 years old, helps her in the kitchen often, and Milton said whenever she bakes, she makes extra for her son to decorate as well.

Neighbor Lorie Hubbard said she has ordered often from Milton for many special occasions.

“I am a big supporter of local business and especially young moms who are trying to raise kids and balance a family and a business as well. And I see how much detail and how much thought she puts into every order she gets,” Hubbard said. “She really is just a super-dedicated person who wants to make sure whatever she produces really represents just her passion for baking and for life.”

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