Staci Dunn, who owns The Cake Lady in Fort Pierce, won’t tell you her secret to baking the perfect cake. What she will share, however, is her recipe for success, which in her case involves a leap of faith, some trust and a serious passion for sweets.
“Being in the corporate world was never for me,” she says. “After being out of the workforce for so long, I felt it would be hard to find a job. That’s when I turned to baking.”
In a little over six years, Dunn has racked up numerous accomplishments with The Cake Lady, which debuted in April 2013. So far this year, she’s created over 700 custom cakes and sold more than 5,200 cupcakes, not including corporate orders or donations. She also hosted more than 200 children for a hands-on cupcake camp over the summer.
But her biggest achievement to date was her appearance on Food Network’s “Cake Hunters” in September 2017. She and two other bakers were challenged with designing a unique cake for a Boynton Beach bar mitzvah.
“The experience with Food Network was something I will never forget,” she says. “When they first called me, I thought it was a hoax.”
It’s safe to say the future looks bring for Dunn and The Cake Lady—so bright that she and her team will appear on Food Network again, this time for an episode airing in March 2020.
“They flew everyone to Canada, all expenses paid, for filming,” she says. “And that’s all I’m allowed to say about that, unfortunately.”
What sparked your interest in baking?
I was a legal assistant for 15 years, then worked in the school system for five years and started my own medical transcription business for another five years after that, all while homeschooling my children. When my clients transitioned to voice recognition, I was phased out and had to find a job. That’s when I took a leap of faith and opened The Cake Lady. I was very familiar with baking and cake decorating as a hobby.
How do you gather inspiration for your confections?
Clients will often ask me if I have made a flavor, and if I haven’t, we’re always willing to try. Right now, we are up to 82. They’re mostly inspired off of what we like to eat. For example, Butterfingers are my favorite candy bar, so we found a way to make that into a cupcake. Also, we always bake flavors in combinations we know people love, such as chocolate and peanut butter or maple and bacon. As far as inspiration for our designs, that comes from the heart.
Of them all, which are the most popular?
Our most popular is probably pink Champagne with white chocolate mousse filling. Another favorite is lavender and lemon.
Tell us about your experience on Food Network.
I learned the show has “researchers” who spend their time scouting cake artists on various social media sites, which is how we were found. They asked me to do a Skype audition, and two weeks later, we were slated for an episode. Receiving national recognition and being able to showcase our work on television was intimidating, though. People have asked to take pictures with me or asked for my autograph. They say things like, “Oh, you’re famous!” and I honestly don’t know how to react to that. I’m like, “No, Tom Cruise is famous. I just decorate cakes.”
What advice do you have for someone who wants to turn a passion into a career as you did?
“Be very sure that’s what you want to do because it can sometimes ruin your passion. I’m happy to report that hasn’t happened to me though.”