Spotlight on small business

Vavette Blevins shows off the medals her cakes won from the Food Network at her bakery, Work of Art Cakes, in Killeen.

Vavette Blevins has been on both sides of the professional spectrum when it comes to looking out for her customers’ teeth.

The owner of Work of Art Cakes in downtown Killeen was an Army dentist before she started filling people’s mouths with frosting instead of fluoride.

But she isn’t just another cake decorator. Blevins is probably the only baker in town whose cakes have been honored by the Food Network.

“We’ve done Food Network competitions, the National Wedding Cake Competition, three times,” Blevins said. “I won bronze medals for the last two. My cake was on TV.”

Blevins said the cake earned her notoriety back home in East Texas and has helped boost business.

“(My cake being on TV) is a big thing back home,” Blevins said. “We have very few people who have done big things, and most of those are things you don’t want to brag about.”

“My customers know about it, and they are very proud of it,” she added.

Food Network personality Bronwen Weber played a pivotal role in the creation of Work of Art Cakes.

“I was in one of her classes in culinary school,” Blevins said. “I am very artistic, and she noticed my work. She actually approached me about entering the contests.”

Weber’s attention was an important confidence boost for an inexperienced baker who entered the industry after baking only one cake for a friend’s child.

“I just kind of tripped into it,” she said. “I was on convalescent leave, and a neighbor asked me to do a cake for her daughter because she was just too busy at work. I did that, and it was pretty cool. I went to culinary school, and I have been doing this ever since. But it really did start with just one cake.”

And from that one cake, a full-service cake operation was born. Work of Art Cakes offers everything from cupcakes to wedding cakes.

“I can do just about any kind of over-the-top cake a customer can come up with,” Blevins said.

But it takes a lot more work than people realize. “It’s a lot of work,” Blevins said. “You see the cake shows, and it shows you one hour, and they have built this amazing cake. Well, that doesn’t happen in real life.”

Blevins said the work is worth it because the end result is so rewarding. She said because cakes tend to be ordered for celebrations, she usually has a blast working with her customers. But there is one exception.

“It’s the moms,” Blevins said. “Most of the time I don’t have problems with my brides. The brides come in and pretty much know what they want. It’s when the bride’s mom comes along with the idea she has dreamed up all these years for her daughter’s wedding. Then all of a sudden, her daughter has a complete personality other than what Mom wants her to have. So I am thrown in the middle of a conflict.

“Most of the time, I pretty much tell the bride, ‘It’s your day. You need to do what is going to make you happy because you’re the one who is going to have to look at those picture and have those memories.’ It should be about you. Mom may not be happy with that, but Mom needs to respect the bride.”

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