Lilian Halabi arrived in the United States on Dec. 10, 1995. That’s when she said she officially started living her American dream.

The dream is even sweeter these days. Halabi is the co-owner and designer at Lily’s Cakes in Harker Heights, a family-operated business that has boomed since the doors opened in October.

The workforce at the bakery includes Halabi, her two sisters-in-law and a cousin who help bake, decorate, set up display cases and assist customers.

“Each and every one of the people who help me in my place are very hard workers, and I am very thankful for that,” Halabi said.

Halabi’s husband, Sam, provides support by watching out for the business and helping with the children.

Working a family business is tradition for Halabi, whose family operated a retail store and bakery in her native Venezuela. She hopes to pass on the values she learned there to her own children, Amir, 14, Sara, 11, and Zeina, 6, who pitch in by helping customers and maintaining a friendly atmosphere in the store.

“They learn responsibility, and see you have to work for things,” Halabi said.

Halabi acquired her cake-decorating skills by attending classes and watching online tutorials.

“I have always had a love to decorate food, especially if I have a special gathering,” she said.

She has had some unusual requests since she originally opened the business out of her home in December 2010. So far, the most unusual cake was a zombie design that featured a disembodied head. She’s also done shoes, monkeys, bows, monster trucks and a drum kit.

In the beginning, Halabi was sometimes up all night working to perfect a design for a customer. She credits her success to persistence.

“At the end of the day, when all the orders are done, it feels good — it makes me happy.”

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