Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Baker brings lifelong passion to Grant Street

Ahmari Stevens and Latoya Hailstock standing behind baked goods at Bee Sweet Bakery

By Rylee Shott         

            For Latoya Hailstock getting an Easy Bake Oven was the start of her lifelong passion.

            Once Hailstock started baking with her Easy Bake Oven she could not stop. Her parents had to make her batter just to keep up. This is when Hailstock truly learned the “magic” of baking.

            She learned that from one batter she could make cookies, cakes, and pies.

            “I always thought it was almost magic how you could take these things and a little bit of science to create all of this stuff, that always intrigued me,” Hailstock said.

            After running her business in her home for two years. Hailstock at 43-years-old finally achieved her dream of owning her own store front to sell her sweet treats.

            Bee Sweet bakery opened its doors at 1006 Grant St. Buffalo on Dec. 23, 2023.

            You can stop by the bakery between the hours of noon and 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday to get a that day’s array of cookies, cakes, brownies, brookies, pies, cobbler, and Big Deborah’s. Bee Sweet menu also occasionally makes baked macaroni and cheese. To keep up with the ever changing newest and most popular sweet treats you can follow Bee Sweet on Facebook here.

            Bee Sweet is not just about the treats being sold, there is a hidden message behind the name.

            “Every time you mention the name of my shop, Bee Sweet, you are telling someone to be sweet. So, let’s be sweet to one another. We are acknowledging the bee, the small things in life and reminding each other it’s not just to eat sweet we need to be better to one another,” Hailstock said.

            Hailstock inspires those around her particularly her two daughters: Ahmari Stevens and Ahrie Stevens.

            “My mother had us young, we always see her work extremely hard for everything. If she can do this on her own, it really motivates me. It goes to show it doesn’t matter how old you are, if you have kids, you can achieve any goal you set your heart too,” Ahmari said.

            Hailstock isn’t the only talented baker in the family, she has her mom, sister and her two daughters helping her out.

            Her daughter Ahmari is known as the Macaroon Queen.

            “I have just seen her create beautiful works of art literally with different configurations of sugar and flour. I just found that amazing so just seeing that really made me be like, well I can do it too and I did. She is why I like to do this,” Ahmari said.

            Hailstock’s favorite part about baking is being able to have a creative outlet that puts a smile on people’s faces. Particularly she loves to make cut out cakes where she can mold and create cake to shape things like guitars, pirate ships, the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland, and even recreating famous paintings like Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

            Bee Sweet is not just about getting a sweet treat, but it’s also a welcoming fun place to be, just ask some of their longtime customers and they will tell you.

            “It’s a nice sweet welcoming good vibe, you walk in there and you don’t feel like you are being judged, you walk in there thinking this is about to make my day,” Justice Skillon said.

            The realization set in for Hailstock that she wanted to have a job that made her happy like all the other woman business owners she always looked up to, although that created a challenge within itself.

            When inquiring about purchasing the building for the bakery Hailstock was told this building was not for her with no explanation behind it.

            “Being a Black woman owned business is probably the hardest part opening a business, people don’t take you seriously, they don’t give you the breaks they give everyone else,” Hailstock said.

            Hailstock feels like there are always eyes on her waiting for Bee Sweet to fail since she is a Black woman business owner, but she found a way to lift some of that pressure off her shoulders.

            “I do realize I am a success story but at the same time I am just that little girl and I just grew up and I’m living my dream,” Hailstock said. “I just try to think of it as that because otherwise it’s too much weight.”