- By Matt Sanctis Staff Writer
Donyale Hill will open the doors to her new bakery in September, but she’s already been gaining a base of devoted customers for close to two decades.
D. Sweets Cookies and Gifts LLC. will open on Monday, Sept. 17 at 1605 E. Main St. in Springfield. Although it’s Hill’s first storefront, she’s been selling cookies, cupcakes and other treats from her home for 17 years. In the past few years, she’s also gained enough attention to attract corporate clients and baked for clients like Mercy Health. She said she baked about 2,500 cookies last year when Mercy Health kicked off a rebranding campaign at the Springfield Regional Medical Center.
As orders grew, it became tougher to run her home bakery and continue her full-time job at the Neighborhood Housing Partnership of Greater Springfield.
“The growth was undeniable and the numbers were good so it kept going from there,” Hill said of her decision to own her own business.
Hill’s family has also played a big role in her success. She credited her mother and grandmother for instilling a love of cooking and photos of her family line the bright pink walls of the bakery. Hill’s daughter Lailah decorated the business and will serve as the bakery’s other full-time employee.
“We’ll continue to learn and balance each other out,” Lailah said. “We’re a great team.”
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The business really started 17 years ago after Hill started baking and selling cookies around Christmas after her twin boys were born. She taught herself to decorate cookies and steadily added regular customers. Now that she’s getting corporate clients, she said she knew it was finally time to make the jump to running the bakery full-time.
“I think that part of the business is really going to take off,” Hill said.
The bakery will provide consultations for events like weddings and birthday parties, and Hill said she’ll also periodically mix in new baked goods so customers will have a variety of options. She’ll also offer cinnamon rolls on Saturday mornings.
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Hill said she feels blessed to be able to own her own business full-time. She also credited Springfield’s Small Business Development Center with providing tips and advice for starting a first business. But she said she’s particularly happy to have her daughter Lailah involved.
“When my daughter expressed interest that was a joy because it’s nice being able to think maybe my children can enjoy running this business as well,” she said.