Two-hundred mini-cupcakes promised to a company anniversary party in Philadelphia stood between Honeecakes Bakery founder Andrea Dashiell and her plans to attend her alma matter University of Delaware’s homecoming.
Business came before pleasure for Dashiell, 24, of Forestville, who will celebrate seven years of Honeecakes on Nov. 10 at Suitland’s Applegate Clubhouse. She baked nonstop at a friend’s house near campus that weekend to fill the order.
“That’s when you realize your heart is really in it,” Dashiell said.
Dashiell began the business in 2005 in a Suitland High School Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship class and was named a NFTE National Youth Entrepreneur of the Year award winner in 2005. Asked why she didn’t celebrate five or 10 years, Dashiell said the number seven is a number of completion, as referenced in the Bible with Sunday being the seventh day of the week and a day of rest.
Mena Lofland, Dashiell’s NFTE teacher at Suitland, said she was surprised when she told her it had already been seven years already. Lofland, who retired from Suitland after 10 years in June, taught the highest number of NFTE regional and national award winners from one Washington, D.C., metropolitan area high school, according to Verice White, the NFTE DC Region program director.
“Some people don't celebrate what you do and that's what you should do,” Lofland said. “You should have people celebrate how far you've come over this. It was her faith. It was her family. It was NFTE, who would always have her selling her cake when we had our annual gala at the Marriott Wardman [Park] Hotel. People would be looking for those cakes.”
Dashiell gets one to two orders a week since she graduated college in 2010 and since then has started her own website, began a Twitter feed, taken cake decorating classes at chain craft store Michaels and works on branding such as making her own buttons. She charges $30 for cakes, $15 for one dozen cupcakes and $50 for cheesecakes.
While in college, Dashiell was limited to taking orders during holidays like Easter and Christmas and often asked professors to take exams early to fulfill orders. Dashiell continues to play a balancing act today as a full-time human resources assistant in Washington, D.C., and as a graduate student at Bowie State University, majoring in English.
“I had to do a lot of rearranging owning a business as an 18, 19-year-old,” Dashiell said. “But it was worth it. I still have my bakery so everybody wins.”
Dashiell is doing some rearranging in the way she bakes too. She said she is getting more requests for healthier options such as cupcakes for vegans — those who do not eat eggs, dairy or meat products — and gluten-free baked goods that contain no wheat.
Ashley Russell got a taste of Dashiell’s gluten-free chocolate and vanilla cupcakes in September when she asked Dashiell to bake a batch for the Prince George’s Women’s Lacrosse Association kickoff event in Landover. Russell is president of the organization.
“Gluten free is a better option than a big time cupcake with a lot of frosting on it,” Russell said. “Although she makes those classic bakery items, she can make healthy conscious items as well for people with different needs.”
Dashiell said her next step by 2013 is to get a limited liability company license to have formal recognition as a business. Though she is in school, she said her ultimate goal is to make the business a full-time venture based in the county where after a day of sales she can open the place later for baking classes.
“I feel like that’s something that needs to happen because that’s what makes me happy,” Dashiell said.